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Fed charges brought in pot-related slaying

  |   March 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM
EUREKA, Calif., March 2 (UPI) -- An accused Northern California marijuana grower jailed on a state murder charge faces new federal counts that carry the death penalty, prosecutors said.

Mikal Wilde was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco Thursday on charges of killing a Guatemalan immigrant who was working on a secret marijuana farm in Humboldt County in 2010 and also faces charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants from his alleged crop.

The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco said in a written statement Wilde was being held in the county jail Friday pending a court appearance in Eureka.

The (Eureka) Times-Standard reported Friday Wilde could face the death penalty if convicted in federal court of using a gun to commit a narcotics-related homicide and life in prison if found guilty of murder in state court.

The newspaper said the shooting resulted from a dispute over money among Wilde and two undocumented farm workers who had quit their jobs and were demanding he pay them wages they were owed. Wilde, whose alleged illicit crop in Kneeland was under surveillance at the time, is accused of shooting one victim in the face and then killing Mario Roberto Juarez-Madrid as the worker tried to flee. The man who was shot in the face escaped and testified at Wilde's September preliminary hearing in state court.

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