STOCKTON — The trial of two men accused of murdering two Lodians in 2016 will begin Tuesday morning.
Kevin Etherton, 27, and Kenneth Vanderford, 53, are facing charges of murder with special circumstance, murder while lying in wait or during the commission of an arson or kidnapping, first-degree felony burglary, first degree-felony robbery and arson of an inhabited structure.
The charges stem from the Feb. 13, 2016 murder of Dorothy Wiederrich and the Sept. 25, 2016 murder of Alan Gregor.
Wiederrich, 74, was found in her Woodlake Circle home in northwest Lodi by her son Gary Bettencourt.
Lodi Police Department investigators at the time said Wiederrich, who lived alone, was found bound and with multiple stab wounds. There were no signs of forced entry, leaving open the possibility that Wiederrich may have known her killer, police said.
Wiederrich, who was married to local farmer John Wiederrich for 14 years before his death in 2011, had lived in the neighborhood for more than a year, according to neighbors.
Later that year, Lodi police and fire officials responded to a structure fire in the 1500 block of West Vine Street, just across the street from Lodi Middle School.
Once fire crews brought the blaze under control, the body of a deceased man was found inside the home. He was later identified as 53-year-old Alan Karl Gregor, Jr.
The San Joaquin County Coroner later determined Gregor had been stabbed to death before the fire had been started.
Gregor’s neighbors said he had only lived in the area a few years when he was killed.
The pair were arrested in 2017 for Gregor’s murder, and then arrested in 2018 for Wiederrich’s murder. The two cases were initially being tried separately, but were combined last summer.
Angela Hayes, spokeswoman for the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, said closing arguments in the case should be made by the end of February.
Etherton and Vanderford are currently being held at the San Joaquin County Jail without bail. They will appear before Judge Seth R. Hoyt, Jr. in Dept. 7A of the Stockton Courthouse, 180 E. Weber Ave., at 9 a.m.