Edward Two Feathers Steele, who is accused of the murder of a one-year-old child, appeared by video before Judge John Behnke in Courtroom H of the Mendocino County Superior Court this morning for an arraignment.
Steele was originally scheduled to be arraigned on August 8, but refused to enter the video conference room in the jail where he could face the court remotely.
In today’s proceeding, Behnke assigned Mary LeClair of the Mendocino County Public Defender’s office to represent Steele, and ordered her to perform a thorough check of any potential conflicts that may arise from her involvement in the case. On August 5, District Attorney David Eyster filed a peremptory challenge to Judge Carly Dolan, who normally presides in Courtroom H, asserting that she is “prejudiced against Plaintiffs or their attorney or the interests of Plaintiffs or their attorneys so that Plaintiffs cannot or believe they cannot have a fair and impartial trial before such judge.” Prior to her election as a judge, Dolan served in the Public Defender’s office. Steele appeared before her previously in another matter.
Steele did not enter a plea this morning. He is now scheduled to enter a plea on August 24, at 9:00 am, in an as-yet unassigned courtroom, possibly Judge Jeanine Nadel’s.
Steele is accused of abandoning two children, the deceased infant and a two-year-old who survived, near the railroad tracks at the north end of Ukiah on August 3. He is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of the one-year-old, two felony charges of cruelty to a child, and two allegations of great bodily injury.
He is facing a potential life term in prison.