On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the 11th Judicial convened at the Pershing County courthouse. They heard several cases including arraignments, sentencings and status hearings.



Uriel Pena Castellanos, 73, of Grass Valley, came to court for sentencing. He previously pleaded guilty to grand larceny of livestock.  Chris Houghton interpreted for the defendant. Castellanos’ native language is Spanish.

Defense attorney Kyle Swanson and DDA Todd Banks negotiated a plea agreement. Under its terms, Castellanos must pay $300 in restitution and court fees. The judge sentenced Castellanos to 90 days, suspended, with probation not to exceed two years.

A victim testified that she and her husband were starting a cattle ranch. They discovered the heifer they obtained from Castellanos was not theirs to keep. The fact that it belonged to someone else caused hardship for her family, she said.



Chance Craig Deboer, 27, came to court for a sentencing and eligibility hearing. Two months ago, at his arraignment, he pleaded guilty to the possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

Immediately after his arraignment, the judge had Deboer tested for controlled substances. The results came back positive for methamphetamine. 

As a result, the court had to repeat the arraignment. To ensure Deboer showed  up able to fully participate, the judge remanded him to custody. 

Judge Shirley ordered Deboer released from jail when he tested clean, noting that meth stays in the system for about 72 hours. After release, Deboer arranged and paid for random testing.

Swanson pointed to Deboer’s clean record and argued for 453 diversion. Under 453 diversion, the judge suspends the proceedings without entering the felony conviction. If the defendant completes all the requirements of probation, they may start with a clean slate. 

“Mr. Deboer takes pride in being a good father and providing for his family,” said Swanson, adding that Deboer was doing well in the presentencing phase of Humboldt County drug court.

The judge suspended the proceedings, granted 453 diversion and gave the defendant 36 months of probation.

“Do well on probation,” said the judge. “I don’t want to see you back here.”



Joel Adam Marcelja, 39, came to court for a sentencing and eligibility hearing. Earlier, at his arraignment, he pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

Kyle Swanson acknowledged that his client had multiple convictions and had been on parole and probation numerous times. He’d also done time in prison.

“There are, however, some things going in my client’s favor,” he continued. “This is an individual who is serious about getting his life straight. He’s been diligent about communicating with me.” 

He also noted that Marcelja would soon become a father and felt an obligation to support his family. His significant other watched the proceedings from the back of the courtroom.

Swanson observed that the judge had sentenced Marcelja’s co-defendant to probation, along with some jail time.

Due to his record, Marcelja did not qualify for 453 diversion. The judge also decided against 458 diversion. Under 458 diversion, the court enters the felony on the defendant’s record, but the defendant may have it dismissed once they complete the program. 

Judge Shirley will render his decision on Feb. 3.



Brianna Lynn Watson, 22, faced sentencing for the attempted uttering of a forged instrument, a ‘wobbler’ between a gross misdemeanor and a felony. 

Cochran acknowledged that the defendant signed her father’s name to checks but argued against nefarious intent.

Banks countered that Watson stole from an incapacitated relative, her father. 

“This wasn’t a case of innocent misunderstanding,” he said. “This was a case where somebody had a parasitic relationship with an older family member and when that family member became incapacitated, they essentially went on a shopping spree.” 

Coming down on the side of treating the case as a gross misdemeanor rather than a felony, the judge gave Watson 180 days in jail, suspended with probation for 24 months. 

Judge Shirley declined to order the defendant to seek fulltime employment, as recommended by the prosecution, but ordered her to look into vocational rehabilitation after the delivery of her child. Her due date is this spring, she said.

“You’re 22,” said the judge. “You’ve got a whole future ahead of you.”

Watson must also get a driver’s license. The judge gave her 90 days to make the appointment and take the test.

She must pay $600 restitution at the rate of $50 a month.

Other cases —

Marcos Rafael Soto, Jr., retained Debra Amens, of Battle Mountain, to defend him against charges of possessing a controlled substance, methamphetamine. Earlier, at his arraignment, Soto pleaded not guilty.

The Category E felony is punishable by one to four years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. However, due to Soto’s clean record, he qualifies for mandatory probation.

To ensure the defendant’s ability to fully participate in the hearing, the judge asked him a series of questions.

“Have you used marijuana within the past 30 days? Have you used methamphetamine within the last three or four days?” he asked.

The judge planned to have the defendant tested immediately following the hearing. A dirty test would nullify the arraignment. Soto replied that he had not used drugs.

Nonetheless, Soto tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine and alcohol. The judge remanded him into custody until he tests clean, noting that meth stays in the system for about 72 hours. 

Upon release, Soto will pay for random drug testing in Lander County. The court must reschedule the arraignment.



Brooklyn Rose, of Elko, 23, faced sentencing for the possession of stolen property. She did not show up for her last hearing, so the judge issued a bench warrant. Kyle Swanson represented the defendant.

The judge gave Rose 364 days in jail, suspended, with three years probation. She must pay $150 per month until $500 restitution is paid. 

Under the standard terms and conditions of probation, Rose is on a drug testing regimen. If she has any positive results, she must get a substance abuse evaluation and abide by its recommendations.



Cellia Dorrine Cardenas, 34, came to court for a sentencing and eligibility hearing. Swanson noted that she had no prior criminal history and asked for a 453 diversion program.

Banks said that although Cardenas had a rocky start in the presentencing phase of drug court, she was making an effort to improve. He did not oppose 453 diversion.

The judge granted probation with 453 diversion not to exceed 36 months. Cardenas must complete the Pershing County drug court program.



Michelle Gutierrez, 37, did not appear for her sentencing hearing for the possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. The judge planned to issue a bench warrant.



Gabriel Rayshawn Bourne came to court to for a status hearing. He asked the court to allow medical marijuana. Swanson showed the court a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services, indicating Bourne’s acceptance into the medical marijuana registry. The judge said he needed a doctor’s statement saying why Bourne needed marijuana.

“If I’m going to adjust the conditions, I need to see why I’m doing it,” he said.



On Monday, Jan. 13, the 11th Judicial Court selected a jury of 12 Pershing County residents to hear the case of Bruce Lee Malonson, 63. He faced charges of driving under the influence, causing a death.

“My client adamantly denies his guilt,” said Steve Evenson, defense attorney.

DDA Todd Banks argued on behalf of the State of Nevada. Shannon Bryant, Nevada’s traffic safety resource officer, acted as co-counsel.

After the Clerk of the Court, Carol Elerick, swore in the jury, Malonson, a four-time convicted felon, opted to plead guilty to a lesser charge – involuntary manslaughter. The Category D felony is punishable by one to four years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.

Judge Shirley sentences Malonson on April 6. He noted that a record-breaking 20 people did not show up for jury duty.



The court postponed David Brian Kremnitz Sr.’s sentencing until Feb. 3.