Blackhawk man pleads not guilty to murder, elder abuse in wife's death

Prosecutors drop torture charge; next court appearance Oct. 18

A Blackhawk man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from the death of his wife in what authorities allege was a vicious hammer attack in the couple's home last month.

John Tercheria, 69, entered not guilty pleas to felony counts of murder and elder abuse, as well as denied a special allegation of using a deadly weapon, during a court appearance Tuesday in Martinez before Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Cheryl Mills, according to deputy district attorney Chris Walpole.

Tercheria, who remains in jail custody with bail set at $2.1 million, is set to return to court Oct. 18 for scheduling of a preliminary hearing in the case. His attorney, William Gagen, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Linda Marie Tercheria, 69, was found dead by Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies the afternoon of Aug. 7 while they were responding to a suspicious circumstance report at the couple's home in the 4300 block of Quail Run Lane. The Blackhawk woman suffered more than 20 blows to the head from a hammer that was recovered by investigators, according to Walpole.

John Tercheria was arrested early the next morning, Aug. 8.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office initially also charged Tercheria with felony torture and a special circumstance of committing an especially heinous or cruel murder -- a special circumstance would have made the case eligible for the death penalty.

But after subsequent research, the DA's office determined a special circumstance of heinous murder -- which remains included in the California Penal Code -- had actually been deemed unconstitutional by the courts as too vague, so it was removed from the Tercheria case, Walpole said.

Prosecutors have also dropped the felony torture charge, with Walpole saying it would have been too difficult to prove given the facts of the case.

Tercheria, who was an accomplished senior softball player and had briefly played minor league baseball, spent a little more than a day out of jail after his initial arrest in the case.

He posted $1 million bail the afternoon of his arrest, but sheriff's deputies obtained a new warrant for his arrest after subsequent investigation. He was detained on that warrant at a home in Dublin the night of Aug. 9 and booked into jail with bail set at $2.1 million, according to the sheriff's office.

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32 people like this
Posted by Tracy
a resident of Alamo
on Sep 14, 2016 at 8:04 am

Again...... No one cares about his baseball history. It's irrelevant information and inappropriate to even mention it. Every article seems to focus on the baseball career.

It comes across like this..... Hear is the update on the story of the man who is accused of murdering his wife and don't forget he was an "accomplished senior baseball player and briefly played in the minor league." It sounds like Tercheria wrote it himself. There was a whole paragraph dedicated to that information. Clearly, it's his only claim to fame. There is nothing mentioned of surviving grieving children.

Enough already!

Say something about his murdered and tortured wife. Her life had value too.

Good journalism includes thorough research and not just regurgitating or rewording what another reporter or news site has published.

Like this comment
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2016 at 8:30 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

@ Tracy, We work very hard to bring quality journalism and local coverage to you and other Tri-Valley residents. It is unfortunate that the business model for journalism has changed and has forced the reduction of editorial staffs and even closures of newspapers nationwide.

You can help keep quality journalism alive and well in the Tri-Valley by subscribing to our Support Local Journalism program. Web Link

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