West Point woman accused of killing son awaits trial

Melody Crowell, the West Point woman accused of shooting her son Rocky Scarfo to death in the family’s marijuana garden, will return to court Oct. 21 to set a date for her trial.

Crowell, wearing a lime green jail jumpsuit, appeared in court Friday. Her attorney, Jeffrey Seaton, on Friday told Judge Richard Meyer he couldn’t yet schedule a trial date because he has to first hire and schedule expert witnesses who will testify in hearings on pretrial motions. Seaton did not say what issues he might raise in those motions.

During a preliminary hearing of the evidence against Crowell held in July, Calaveras County Sheriff Det. Chris Dorsey said that Crowell, 72, confessed to shooting Scarfo, 49.

The killing allegedly occurred in late August 2015 during an encounter in the marijuana garden at the home they shared on Lily Valley Circle near West Point.

According to a transcript of the preliminary hearing, Dorsey testified that after multiple interviews, Crowell confessed to shooting her son. Dorsey said Crowell told him that she feared Scarfo would rape her.

“And she explained that he reached out for her and she grabbed a gun that was lying on a rock and then she started firing the gun, firing the gun, firing the gun,” Dorsey said.

It was after that confession on Sept. 10, 2015, that Crowell was arrested on suspicion of murder. The arrest came only 12 days after deputies found Scarfo’s body wrapped in a plastic sheet and plastic fencing next to Winton Road.

There was no identification with the body when it was found on Aug. 29. An autopsy determined the body had bullet wounds in its chest, head, left hand and right shoulder. A .44-caliber slug was recovered from one of the wounds.

During the preliminary hearing, Dorsey described the detective work that resulted in a speedy arrest. First, Deputy Josh Crabtree, who had worked in the West Point area, came to look at the victim. Crabtree said he thought the body might be that of a man who lived on Lily Valley Circle.

Dorsey went to Lily Valley Circle. There was no one at the home of the man Crabtree named. But right next door, at what turned out to be the residence of Melody Crowell, Dorsey saw white plastic sheeting and green fencing that matched that used to wrap the body.

On Sept. 7, Dorsey had an initial interview with Dona Crowell, Melody’s daughter, and Michael Foley, who Dona Crowell described as a “sort of” boyfriend. On Sept. 8, he went again and spoke with both of them as well as Melody Crowell.

“She told me that her son Rocky Scarfo lived with her,” Dorsey testified. At that time, Crowell told Dorsey that her son was away in another county, possibly Modoc, working on a marijuana farm.

Dorsey found a dentist in Amador County who had worked on Scarfo and obtained images of Scarfo’s teeth. They matched those of the corpse. Dorsey went back to Lily Valley Circle on Sept. 10 with a search warrant. Evidence seized included the white sheeting and the green fencing and a wallet with a driver’s license, a hunting license and a medical marijuana ID card for Scarfo.

It is not clear from evidence presented at the preliminary hearing exactly how the body might have been moved from the Crowell home to the spot on Winton Road, where it was found three miles away. Investigators, however, clearly suspect Foley. Dorsey said that Foley told him he used a hose to wash away blood in the marijuana garden.

Assistant District Attorney Seth Matthews said that the fact that someone moved the body “is not consistent with self-defense.”

Judge Grant V. Barret ordered that Crowell be held for trial. She remains in custody in the Calaveras County Jail. Her bail is set at $1 million.


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