The first of three suspects in last month's triple homicide near Forestville was charged Tuesday with being the shooter in a special-circumstances murder case that could bring him the death penalty if he is convicted.
Mark William Cappello, 46, of Central City, Colo., made his first court appearance since his extradition from Alabama, where he was arrested Feb. 14.
Prosecutors allege that Cappello gunned down three men during a Feb. 5 marijuana deal in a rural home on Ross Station Road. He is charged with three counts of murder with special circumstances for allegedly lying in wait, killing for financial gain, committing the crimes in the course of a burglary and the slayings of multiple victims.
Other allegations include personal use of a .45-caliber pistol, burglary and conspiracy to transport marijuana.
All of the special circumstances could be used as grounds to seek the death sentence, prosecutor Traci Carrillo said.
"Based on the nature and circumstances of the case, it's death-eligible," Carrillo said after the hearing.
A decision on whether to seek death would be made by District Attorney Jill Ravitch as legal proceedings unfold, Carrillo said. Ravitch has not sought the death penalty in any murder case since taking office in 2011.
The last Sonoma County defendant sent to Death Row was Robert Scully, who was convicted of the 1995 shotgun slaying of Deputy Frank Trejo.
Cappello glanced into the courtroom gallery but said nothing as his case was called by Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite. The goateed man stood in a blue jail uniform, his hands shackled at his waist, before being led away by deputies.
His alleged accomplices, Denver-area resident Odin Leonard Dwyer, 38, and his father, Francis R. Dwyer, 65, of New Mexico, were arrested in their home states and are awaiting transport.
The younger Dwyer could make a first court appearance Thursday. It was unknown when the elder man would arrive.