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Case dismissed against men accused of burning Antioch woman's body; DA cites police racist text scandal

PIX Now Wednesday noon headlines 6/7/23
PIX Now Wednesday noon headlines 6/7/23 08:26

The two men accused of burning a woman's body in Antioch last year will not stand trial after the Contra Costa County District Attorney's determined the case was tainted too much by officers involved in the Antioch Police Department's racist texting scandal.

Ashton Montalvo, 32, and Deangelo Laraye Boone, 39, had both been facing arson and mutilation charges in connection with the death of 25-year-old Mykaella Sharlman.

Sharlman's body was found badly burned on Oct. 17 on the Mokelumne Trail near Gentrytown Drive. Antioch police released photos of the jewelry she was wearing to help identify her.

No one was ever charged with her murder.

Mykaella Sharlman
Mykaella Sharlman Family photo

"After thoroughly reviewing the officers' role in this case, applying relevant legal principles, and considering ethical responsibilities, the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office no longer has confidence in the integrity of this prosecution," said the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office in a statement. "Our office extends our deepest sympathies to the family of Mykaella Sharlman and we aspire to renew this prosecution if presented with the opportunity to do so."

Assistant District Attorney Annie Esposito said more than half of the officers that worked on the case are under investigation themselves in the texting scandal. 

"As much as we want to at this time, we can't proceed because we don't have confidence in the prosecution of the case," said Esposito. "We feel the integrity has been compromised."

However, Sharlman's family says there's plenty of video evidence from surveillance cameras that show Boone and Montalvo bringing her body in a trash can to the location where she was set on fire.

"Justice is not being served," said her mother Sandra Sharlman. "They have way too much evidence. This happened before all [the texting scandal] came out and they come out all of a sudden like that. It's a cop-out. The system is failing us. It's failing us."

Sharlman's family hopes that by speaking out, it will bring more attention to her case. Her mother acknowledged Sharlman was battling drug addiction, but said the two men shouldn't be able to walk away without paying for their crimes. 

"Mykaella was so wonderful. Even though she had a bad thing when she got in those drugs, she was a good person," said Sandra Sharlman. "Loving and kind and trusting too much all the time."

The DA's Office said dismissing the case now gives it leeway to refile criminal charges against Montalvo and Boone if any new evidence is uncovered.

The dismissal of this case is the latest in the growing fallout from Antioch PD's scandal. Last month California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his office is conducting a civil rights investigation into the department.


The department is already the target of local and federal investigations and lawsuits stemming from alleged rampant racism among its officers and the excessive use of force. In May, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors approved more than $2 million in extra funding to help both the Public Defender's and DA's Offices handle cases related to the scandal.

Some 45 officers, nearly half of the department, are involved in the racist texting scandal, according to the Contra Costa County Public Defender's Office.

"It angers me. I'll be honest with you. It angers me. I think most people who know me I'm pretty low-key," Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford told CBS News Bay Area's Katie Nielsen during an exclusive sitdown interview in April. "Normally it takes a lot to kind of get me going. But I would be lying if I said I weren't, you know, very angry and frustrated with what I've read and seen over the past few weeks."

In the past year, Chief Ford worked with some of those officers in the small, tight-knit department.

"You think, wow, I mean, I've worked with this person and I've trusted this person, you know, we've been out here, you know, as they say, you know, on the street doing police work," said Ford. "And so it's very disappointing, very shocking, you know?" 

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