Edward “Two Feathers” Steele, the man suspected of abandoning a toddler and an infant along a Ukiah railroad track leading to the death of a one-year-old, has been formally charged with felony murder in the second degree.
Yesterday, Steele was ordered to stand in front of Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke who was going to present the charges against him but refused to comply declining to enter the video conference room at the Mendocino County jail used so inmates could remotely attend hearings.
A criminal complaint filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney charges Steel with three criminal counts including felony murder in the second degree. He allegedly “willfully and unlawfully with malice aforethought” killed a one-year-old child, referred to as K.A.
Steele faces two felony charges of child endangerment placing both one-year-old K.A. and two-year-old U.A. in circumstances that would cause great bodily harm “causing the child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain and mental suffering.”
For both counts of felony child endangerment, Steele also faces special allegations of personally inflicting great bodily injury on a child under five years old which acts as an enhancement that could add 4-6 years to a felony case.
Steele stands accused of abandoning two children on the Ukiah railroad tracks near Brush Street on August 3, 2022. A one-year-old would die and his two-year-old brother would require hospitalization due to heat-related issues. Steele was captured on August 4, 2022, at the Hopland Rancheria after tribal members reported his location to law enforcement.
In California, second-degree murder stands apart from first-degree primarily due to the concept of premeditation. Even if someone intended to kill another during the heat of a moment, that does not mean the crime was planned in advance. Another circumstance that can fall under this auspice is a suspect who demonstrates an extreme indifference to human life.
Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster filed what is known as a peremptory challenge against Judge Carly Dolan, the judge initially assigned to Steele’s case. He asserts in a document filed with the court that Judge Dolan, “is prejudice against plaintiffs or their attorney or the interests of Plaintiffs or the attorneys so that Plaintiffs cannot or believe they cannot have a fair and impartial trial before such a judge.
It looks as if the court will reattempt Steele’s arraignment tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Failing to appear at an arraignment could result in a separate felony charge.