Richard Hamlin pleads not guilty to six felony charges, including torture of his wife.
Prominent Sacramento defense attorney Richard William Hamlin has pleaded not guilty in El Dorado Superior Court to six felony charges, including torture and corporal injury to his wife.
Hamlin, 43, was arrested Saturday and is being held in El Dorado County jail on $1 million bail.
Hamlin was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on one count of torture, one count of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, two counts of terrorist threats and two counts of inflicting corporal injury to a spouse.
Court documents allege that Hamlin had made numerous threats to his wife and her family, including repeatedly telling his wife that he would kill her and her family members if he were arrested. The Bee is withholding the wife’s name.
In a court document filed Tuesday requesting that Hamlin’s bail be increased from $300,000, El Dorado County prosecutors stated that Hamlin reportedly has a “hit list” of people he would kill if arrested.
According to Hamlin’s interview and statement to detectives, cited in the court document, he believes he is the target of an assassination plot by a satanic church of which he thinks his wife and her family are members.
The document also states, Hamlin “has repeatedly threatened (the) victim with a handgun, placing it in her mouth on one occasion and against her head on another and threatened to kill her if she reports the abuse he has been subjecting her to.”
Within the past 30 days, Hamlin allegedly forced his wife to sleep next to him while he held a loaded gun – with the safety off – pressed against her chest. “Defendant told victim if she got up during the night and tried to leave him, he would shoot her,” the document states.
Hamlin has been involved in two unsafe firearm discharges within the past 30 days. He shot himself in the leg on one occasion, and on another, he fired a gun into the air outside his home, the document states.
El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Vicki Ashworth said the charge of discharging a firearm with gross negligence is related to firing a shot into the air.
Ashworth would not elaborate on other pending charges, if any.
“This has just recently come to light and because of the ongoing investigation and nature of the charges, I can’t comment on anything further,” Ashworth said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Ashworth said Hamlin will be assigned a public defender.
Hamlin was arrested at his sprawling El Dorado Hills home Saturday after sheriff’s deputies began investigating claims that Hamlin made about a cult wanting to kill him, said Lt. Kevin House, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
Hamlin had contacted the sheriff’s office Thursday and reported that a satanic cult was plotting to kill him. He also said he believed his wife and her family members were involved in the cult, House said.
Deputies interviewed Hamlin and his wife several times over the next few days. When deputies interviewed Hamlin’s wife apart from her husband, she alleged that she had been physically and emotionally abused by him, House said.
Hamlin’s wife and their four children have been placed in protective custody, House said. A restraining order has been filed against Hamlin, Ashworth said.
Hamlin worked as a deputy district attorney for Sacramento County from 1985 to 1989. During that time, he prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including that of Paul John Schneider, a prison inmate and Aryan Brotherhood member who was convicted in 1989 of attempted murder after stabbing a prison guard in the neck while incarcerated at Folsom Prison. Schneider, while imprisoned at Pelican Bay, co-owned the dogs that mauled San Francisco resident Diane Whipple to death in January 2001.
Hamlin left the District Attorney’s Office and went on to become a well-known criminal defense attorney in Sacramento. In 1994, he represented an aide for then-Gov. Pete Wilson. The aide pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge. In 1999, Hamlin defended another Wilson aide who pleaded no contest to a drunken-driving charge.
A bail review hearing for Hamlin has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.
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