Bates trial begins Sept. 11

David Richard Bates, accused of the May 25, 2016 killing of Michael Hubbard, 44, at the Whispering Pines stable just outside Susanville, will finally have his day in court.

Bates’ two-week trial is scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 11 in the Lassen County Hall of Justice.

Witnesses — including Whispering Pines owner Dwight Bennett, Hubbard’s uncle, Randy Williamson, Normal Frost, Brett Cantrell and Lassen County Sheriff’s deputies — offered contradictory statements during a Sept. 27, 2016 preliminary hearing.

According to court testimony at that proceeding, Bennett had arranged for a group of men to help him remove Hubbard and Williamson from the property, where they allegedly had been squatting for several months.

Bennett testified Hubbard had been armed with various weapons in the past and had threatened him and his family.

“My feeling was … If I went with enough people, he wouldn’t try to shoot somebody or try to pull a gun on us,” Bennett testified.

During the confrontation that followed, Hubbard was shot in the back of the head.

While deputy district attorney David Evans asked for both first- and second-degree murder charges at the arraignment, he acknowledged the evidence for the first-degree charge was not as strong.

Defense attorney Autumn Paine argued the evidence for the first-degree charge was insufficient, and there was no evidence of premeditation. She also said in this case there was one person, Williamson, who said Bates specifically shot Hubbard, and she noted several discrepancies in Williamson’s statement.

“What the people has presented to the court is a plethora of contradictory evidence,” she said.

Paine said Bates acted in self-defense or in the defense of others.