Arnold man to stand trial in murder case

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

After a preliminary hearing yesterday, Arlin Dale Crawford of Arnold was ordered to stand trial on a murder charge.

After hearing a full day of testimony in Calaveras County Superior Court, a judge ruled that there is probable cause that Crawford murdered Bradford Lavelle Davis, 53, of Avery.

Davis' body was found July 6 beneath some bushes about a mile north of White Pines Lake in the Arnold area. Black-powder gunshots were the cause of death.

Calaveras County Sheriff's Department investigators allege that Crawford killed Davis because he believed Davis assaulted a mutual friend. They have not named that friend.

At Crawford's hearing yesterday, Davis' longtime girlfriend, Francine Reece, testified that she'd had a relationship with Crawford as well. She also said Davis had beaten her a week and a half before his death.

But it was other testimony including statements from two sheriff's deputies linking Crawford to a murder weapon that showed "reasonable cause" that Crawford committed the crime, ruled visiting El Dorado County Judge Gregory Haas.

Crawford also faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, cultivating marijuana and possessing a controlled substance.

"We think it's a very good case," Calaveras County District Attorney Jeff Tuttle said.

Crawford's next court date is a trial-setting hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 6.

The prosecution called three witnesses during the preliminary hearing: Sheriff's Detective Chris Villegas, domestic violence investigator Chris Hewitt and district attorney's investigator John Crawford.

Villegas said that interviews and investigation have revealed that Crawford has admitted to at least one person that he killed Davis.

Villegas said he was told that Crawford drove to Davis' trailer at the Safari Mobile Home Park off Highway 4, and Davis came at Crawford, but Crawford shot him in the shoulder. Davis turned to run, but Crawford shot him in the back and head, Villegas said.

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