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Trial begins in case of torture, murder and drugs

Jury will have to decide which witnesses are telling the truth
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Guy Farmer’s death was about protecting secrets. Secrets about money, drugs and torture, according to prosecutor Dave Tellman. Tellman began a Placer County double-murder trial Monday by telling the jury that he believes evidence will lead them to conclude that Peter Daniel Schoemig and Donald Hugh Sherman are guilty of torturing, poisoning and murdering Sherman’s cousin, Farmer. Prosecutors began opening statements for Schoemig’s jury Monday. Tuesday, Schoemig’s attorney Richard Corbin is scheduled to begin his opening statements. Opening remarks for Sherman are scheduled to begin later this week before a separate jury. Schoemig has denied the murder charge and special allegations against him. Tellman said evidence will prove otherwise. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Tellman described how he plans to show the relationship between the defendants and witnesses, the events leading up to Farmer’s murder, what occurred after the alleged murder and what Schoemig told investigators about Farmer’s murder and his participation in it. Over Labor Day weekend 2006, Sherman and Schoemig, along with several other men, are accused of being involved in a group torture and murder of Farmer. Sherman allegedly blamed Farmer when several chemicals he used to manufacture methamphetamine were missing. When Farmer denied taking the chemicals, Sherman reportedly called three men to “extract” information from his cousin. The men were said to have used hammers and a blowtorch during the commission of the crime. Prosecutors allege Schoemig injected Farmer with methamphetamine three times during the torture to keep the man awake. They also charge that Schoemig was part of the decision to inject Farmer with an overdose of prescription medication the day after he was tortured but had still survived. Tellman said numerous witnesses will be called to the stand including drug users and state prison inmates. “It is your role to determine what is to be believed,” Tellman said. “You have to determine who’s lying or who has lied in the past.” Tellman painted a picture of how several man and women came to know each other and how their connections all led them to Sherman’s Penryn compound the weekend of Sept. 5, 2006. “Now the common thread you’ll hear in this case that connects all of these people is methamphetamine,” Tellman said. Tellman continued to introduce multiple people involved in the crime and those who were with both defendants the days before, the day of and the days after Farmer’s murder. Some of those involved, including Brian Carr, who claims to be Sherman’s best friend, and Juan Figueroa, who was sleeping under Sherman’s pool table in exchange for landscaping work, are now in jail. Carr and Figueroa both pleaded guilty to charges related to Farmer’s death and are expected to testify during the trial. Tellman said other evidence jurors will see include pictures of Farmer’s body bounded by ropes when it was found in an abandoned mine shaft just outside of Reno and DNA evidence of a blood stain from Farmer found in Sherman’s garage. Tellman played audio and video snippets of interviews investigators had with Schoemig prior to his Dec. 12, 2006, arrest and questioning afterward. Tellman said the interviews will show how Schoemig’s story changed several times and that he lied to investigators during initial interviews. “Guy Farmer was purposely killed because of the secrets he knew,” Tellman said. “The defendant lied to the police over and over again because he didn’t want detectives to know he killed Guy Farmer.” See Wednesday’s Journal for coverage of defense attorney Richard Corbin’s opening statements. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Jury told not to tweet Judge Richard Couzens gave jury members for Peter Daniel Schoemig’s trial an extensive PowerPoint presentation of pre-trial instructions. Included among the admonishment not to talk about the case while it’s ongoing and to keep an open mind about the facts, Couzens told jurors not to use the social networking Web site Twitter during any part of the trial deliberations. He said it has happened in the recent past and warned it is “highly inappropriate.” ----------