A judge gave prosecutors six more weeks Friday to decide whether to file criminal charges against Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who was arrested last month outside a Santa Rosa woman's home in just his socks and underwear.
It was the second prosecution delay for Carrillo, 32, who was booked July 13 on suspicion of prowling and burglary and faces removal from office if convicted of a felony.
Cody Hunt, a Napa County deputy prosecutor assigned to the case by the state Attorney General, requested the delay to receive more information from investigators.
Hunt said he was awaiting documents but wouldn't say what they are, including whether they are phone records. Carrillo was carrying a cellphone at the time of his arrest.
He requested a similar delay at the last hearing, on July 18.
"There's not going to be a filing today, your honor," Hunt told Judge Julie Conger.
Conger ordered Carrillo to return Oct. 11 and warned prosecutors against any further postponement.
"I'm expecting a complaint to be filed at that time," Conger said. "No further delays, please."
Carrillo, who wore a dark suit and yellow tie, declined to comment as he left the courtroom flanked by attorneys Steve Gallenson and Jane Gaskell.
He returned to work representing the Fifth Supervisorial District earlier this month. He said he spent five weeks in an alcohol treatment program immediately after his arrest.
Police have said they believe Carrillo was attempting some type of sexual assault the night of his arrest.
Gallenson said prosecutors haven't said what charges, if any, they expect to file, nor have they explained why they needed more time.
"No one is saying anything on their end," Gallenson said. "We just don't know."
Delays are common in criminal proceedings. Legal experts said they sometimes arise when prosecutors send a case back to police for further investigation or are looking for additional evidence on an allegation.
"I'd be careful not to read too much into it," said Kristine Burk, chief deputy public defender. "They want more time. It may be that they are going to file x and y charges but they don't know about z yet."
Others said delays can bode well for defendants.
Joe Stogner, a Santa Rosa defense attorney and instructor at Empire College School of Law, said delays imply prosecutors don't have enough evidence to make an allegation stick.
If they did, they would file charges immediately, Stogner said.
"It implies something is still missing or that there is still evidence out there that needs to be collected before the prosecutor feels comfortable filing a charge," Stogner said. "Very often it can be a good sign" for the defendant, he said.
Stogner ruled out the possibility that charges would be held up for tactical reasons or because of bureaucratic red tape at the Attorney General's Office. Prosecutors wouldn't need six weeks to get a signature, he said.
"Sometimes in a delay like this you're sure you don't have anything, but you want to be doubly sure," Stogner said.
Greg Jacobs, a retired Sonoma County prosecutor, agreed there may be difficulty proving the most serious allegation — that Carrillo tried to break into the house to commit a sexual assault.
But he warned it would be a mistake to bring lesser charges first and try to amend a complaint later. Carrillo could plead guilty to a misdemeanor and foreclose the possibility of being hit with more serious allegations under rules preventing double jeopardy.
For past coverage of the slayings, go here