A scandal involving racist text messages between Antioch Police Department officers prompted prosecutors to file a motion to dismiss a high-profile homicide case.
Ashton Montalvo, 32, and Deangelo Laraye Boone, 39, had been charged with felony arson and mutilation in 2022 after a woman’s body was found burning along an Antioch walking trail.
The body of 25-year-old Mykaella Sharlman was burned beyond recognition.
On Wednesday, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office announced that the case against Montalvo and Boone will not proceed to trial because the investigators of the case are involved in a racist text messaging scandal that targets Black suspects.
“In this case, the prosecution of Montalvo and Boone for mutilation of human remains and arson on October 17, 2022, relied heavily on the investigative work of Antioch Police Officers who are associated with racist text communications,” the DA’s Office wrote.
“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,” the DA’s Office wrote.
On October 16, 2022, Sharlman’s family reported her missing to the Antioch police. The following morning, her body was found burning along a walking trail.
“To take her body and put it in a garbage can and then burn her, is one of the most heinous crimes that you can ever commit,” the victim’s sister, Nicole Eason, previously told the press.
If new evidence is found in the future, the DA’s Office could refile criminal charges and legal actions for Sharlman’s case.
“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,” the DA’s Office wrote.
The Antioch police’s racist text messaging scandal has the potential to affect cases of defendants awaiting trial.
The texts were described by Antioch Police Chief Steve Ford as “racially abhorrent.”
Officers were on-duty and were using their personal cellphones to exchange messages containing racial slurs. They also referred to Black people as “zoo” and “circus” animals.
The FBI and DA’s office are investigating 45 police officers.
In April, District Attorney Diana Becton said her office is working to identify cases that are potentially compromised.
“Once we’ve identified those cases — and any overlapping conflicts — we will initiate a detailed review process for potential dismissal, resentencing, or the preservation of convictions,” Becton wrote.