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Former tribal leader pleads not guilty in killings

Former tribal leader pleads not guilty in killings


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The lawyer for the former leader of a small Northern California Indian tribe is asking the community not to prejudge the woman as she faces trial on allegations that she shot and killed four people and tried to kill two others at a tribal meeting considering her eviction.

Cherie Lash Rhoades pleaded not guilty Monday in Modoc Superior Court to a complaint charging her with four counts of murder and two of attempted murder. The charges carry a potential death penalty.

Afterward, defense attorney Antonio R. Alvarez asked that people not prejudge Rhoades. He says the facts of what happened — "and more importantly why" — have not been fully developed.

The attack happened Feb. 20 at a meeting of the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Council. Rhoades was suspended as tribal chairwoman just three weeks earlier, pending an investigation into embezzlement allegations.

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JEFF BARNARD

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