EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The three men arrested in the death of El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Ishmael faced a judge Friday.
Juan Carlos Vasquez Orozco was escorted into the courtroom in a wheelchair and spoke to the judge through a translator. Vasquez Orozco was charged with several counts including the murder of Ishmael and assault with a deadly weapon.
Christopher Ross, 47, is also being charged with murder and involuntary manslaughter. The criminal complaint alleges Ross called deputies on Wednesday but failed to mention the two men on his property – Vasquez Orozco and Romiro Morales – were caretakers and may be armed.
Morales, who also used an interpreter, is charged with being an accessory to murder.
District attorney Vern Pierson says the trio could face more federal charges.
“Our charges are not related to what they would typically file, which would be conspiracy to cultivate marijuana,” Pierson said. “There’s no special allegations that have been alleged at this time that would put this in the category as being a potential death penalty case.”
The district attorney’s office said the men will potentially face additional charges for operating an illegal marijuana grow.
“We have provided the U.S. Attorney’s Office with a copy of the letter indicating that it’s our assessment, and actually county councils assessment, that this was not a marijuana grow that was in compliance with either state,” Pierson said.
Vasquez Orozco and Morales are Mexican nationals, but their immigration status was unclear.
“With SB 54 there’s a lot of difficulty for us in terms of knowing, specifically, who someone might be,” Pierson said.
Senate Bill 54 prohibits law enforcement agencies in California from sharing information with federal immigration officials.
While the investigation continues, Pierson says his thoughts are with those who knew Deputy Ishmael.