Following months of delays, a judge has ruled that a sexually violent predator can’t be placed in Wilton.

The decision came a year after the Department of State Hospitals (DHS) began efforts to relocate 55-year-old Dariel Morrice Shazier from Del Paso Heights to Wilton.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin R. Culhane made the decision on Aug. 17 after a four-day hearing. Asked about the judge’s reasons, Shelly Oro, a spokesperson for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, provided the following statement.

“The Court found that the proposed new location was not appropriately based on the lack of an immediate law enforcement presence and the ability of law enforcement to respond in a timely fashion,” she said in an email.

Shazier was classified as a sexually violent predator following two convictions for forceable sex with teenage boys. He spent nearly 10 years in state mental hospitals.

Residents on La Clair Road off Blake Road first learned about the placement plan in a flyer placed in their mailboxes by a sheriff’s task force in late 2020. The flyer said they had until Dec. 30 to submit online or mailed letters to the District Attorney’s Office so they could be considered at a Jan. 4 hearing. Later, the deadline for letters was changed to Jan. 4, and the court date was moved to Jan. 5.

The neighbors posted alerts on social media and placed posters throughout the community seeking support. They also interested four media outlets in their plight. Two television stations covered protests at the end of Blake Road on Jan. 5. The morning protest drew about 35 neighbors and supporters and included children living on the road. Another Wilton resident put a petition on change.org that drew 1,080 supporters.

The house on La Clair Road where DHS had planned to place Shazier is owned by the Pimentel Trust and being managed by Maryah Pimentel, a Wilton real estate agent who also lives in the community.

During the Jan. 5 Superior Court hearing, the judge said that Deputy District Attorney Denise Halstead reported receiving 200 emails opposing the Shazier placement in Wilton.

It also came out in court that doctors with contractor Liberty Health had recommended that Shazier be moved from Del Paso because harassment was interfering with his treatment. However, Shazier didn’t initially want to move to Wilton until he was taken out to look at the property.

Numerous hearings on the matter were scheduled in Superior Court. Two of them were conducted in the chambers of a previously assigned judge. Another dozen hearings were postponed.

The case was eventually assigned to Culhane, who presided over the placement hearing on Aug. 9, 10, 16 and 17 that culminated in his decision.