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A six-years long Stanislaus County, California murder case continues to wind its way through the justice system, and one thread is now in federal court. Georgia and Christina DeFilippo, the wife and stepdaughter of criminal defense attorney Frank Carson, claim the district attorney, sheriff's office, and local police department "conspired to conduct a retaliatory, unconstitutional investigation and prosecution of Frank Carson and his family, solely based on their own disdain for Carson because of his successes against them."
The pair were charged with murder, and Georgia DeFilippo ended up spending 50 days in jail. They are now suing for damages, claiming to have spent almost $1 million in bail, attorneys' fees, and court costs.
Convoluted Court Case
A man named Korey Kauffman was last seen alive on March 30, 2012, and his remains were discovered by hunters in Stanislaus County Forest in Mariposa County in August 2013. Police zeroed in on Carson because he suspected Kauffman and another neighbor, Michael Cooley, of stealing from properties containing antiques. According to the DeFilippo's lawsuit:
Stanislaus County District Attorney and Sheriff's Department, and Modesto, Turlock, and Ceres police departments -- stung by a series of high-profile defeats by Carson -- falsely and maliciously concocted a fanciful tale, wherein Carson and his family, concerned about the theft of antiques from their property, resorted to murder for hire. Thus, Carson, Georgia, and Christina's efforts to secure their property, including through police assistance, were "evidence" of a murderous conspiracy, while exculpatory evidence was ignored or destroyed. Indeed, the sum total of the evidence used to bring charges against Georgia and Christina amounts to a few innocuous communications, which no reasonable officer would find established probable cause.
The two were cleared after an 18-month preliminary hearing, with Judge Barbara Zuniga explaining her decision was "not difficult," given the insufficient evidence against them. The murder charges for Carson, however, remain pending and his trial is set for this year.
Criminal Charges Gone Too Far?
Though they have since been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the Kauffman case, the DeFilippo's claim their reputations and their health have been irreparably harmed. "Georgia and Christina have become overwhelmed with paranoia, depression, and anxiety because of the defendants' witch hunt against them and the continued efforts to violate their privacy by seeking search warrants for their phones and computers," the lawsuit claims. "Georgia and Christina live in fear of the defendants' use of power to try to deprive them of their lives and liberty."
The Stanislaus County District Attorney and Sheriff's Department, and Modesto, Turlock, and Ceres police departments are all named in the suit, which alleges constitutional violations, false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as violations of California's civil code.