Wednesday Mar 05 2008
Alleged killer of CHP officer appears in court
By: Jim Ratajczak, The Telegraph
A tiny gold sheriff's star affixed to a crucifix hung from the neck of a slain CHP officer's mother Friday afternoon as she appeared in the same courtroom as the man alleged to have murdered her son. Betty Elliott, 70, is the grieving mother of California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Russell. Russell, a Folsom resident, died in the line of duty July 31 last year when he was allegedly struck and killed by suspect David Zanon as part of a Highway 50 chase. A somber Elliott spoke after Friday's conference, held in an El Dorado County courtroom. I prefer not to say a whole lot because I want this trial to be done correctly, she said. All I can say is I'm a mother with a broken heart. The conference lasted no more than 20 minutes and was held for a status update of the case. During the conference, Elliott sat silently in the back with friends and supporters. Zanon, clad in an orange jumper and handcuffs, spent the conference rocking back and forth in his seat, flanked by armed officers. He is facing six felony counts, including murder, attempted murder, assault upon a peace officer and evading an officer causing death. The complaint claims that Zanon's actions were willful, deliberate and premeditated. Special allegations, such as murder to avoid arrest and use of a deadly weapon, were filed along with the six original charges. Friday's court appearance by Zanon lasted no more than 20 minutes. It's just a status conference, said Joseph Alexander, El Dorado County deputy district attorney. In cases like this, there are plenty of them. But there really isn't much to comment on, and if there was, I wouldn't comment. Even though this was just one of many conferences, Elliott still made the trip to the courthouse. I'm here to support my son, even if it's for five minutes or an entire day, Elliott said. The toll these last months have taken was easy to see on Elliott's face. But as this capital case moves forward, she knows the worst is yet to come. The hardest part will be hearing all the details (about Russell's death), she said. But at least I know the constitutional system is working. The judge and attorneys scheduled another review for March 14. And at the end of those few minutes, Zanon returned to custody and Elliott to her life “ a life without her son. I never thought this would happen to him, she said.