June 20, 2024
Court officials wouldn't detail O'Connor's affliction but discussions in courtroom before hearing indicated possible spider bites or skin infection.

Los Gatos’ accused party mom was supposed to get her day in court this week to challenge felony charges that she endangered teens by hosting liquor-fueled gatherings for her son and his friends and girlfriends and allegedly goaded them into sex hookups that weren’t always consensual.

But Shannon O’Connor, jailed since her October 2021 arrest, was a no-show Monday.

In a brief hearing, Judge Elizabeth C. Peterson said only that O’Connor’s absence “may be medically related” and that she had “no reason to doubt that there is good cause” for her refusal to ride from jail to the courthouse.

O’Connor’s lawyer, Brian Madden, and Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise, wouldn’t comment on the nature of O’Connor’s affliction afterwards.

But before Monday’s brief hearing, officials in the courtroom could be overheard discussing that she believed she had spider bites or an MRSA skin infection for which she’d received hospital treatment.

The judge scheduled a court date for next Monday to reschedule the preliminary hearing, an opportunity for the defense to challenge the evidence as a judge decides whether it’s sufficient to warrant a trial. It is the second time the hearing has been rescheduled.

In April, just as the hearing was to get underway, O’Connor, who has pleaded innocent, asked the judge to reveal what sentence she’d receive if she pleaded guilty as charged. That request prompted a hearing in which prosecutors presented evidence from the teen victims and their parents on how O’Connor had harmed them.

Judge Peterson in May said O’Connor’s sentence would be 17 years and four months if she pleaded out. That was just shy of the 20-year maximum, and O’Connor opted to proceed with the preliminary hearing that was rescheduled to August.

Rescheduling the two-week hearing is no easy matter, prosecutor Wise noted, as there are multiple witnesses, including police officers, teens still in school and some whose families live out of state. She has asked that remote testimony be allowed for out-of-state witnesses, a matter that was supposed to be discussed Monday. But Wise said remote testimony isn’t an option for the defendant, who is expected to help her lawyer in court.

Told about the new delay, one victim’s parent said “that’s messed up” and a hardship on the teen victims who’ve been waiting for justice.

MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria resistant to common antibiotic treatments that produces swollen, painful red bumps that look like pimples or spider bites, and in serious cases can turn into deep, painful abscesses, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Outbreaks of MRSA infections have been known to occasionally afflict hospitals, clinics, jails and gyms. Santa Clara County has battled outbreaks of MRSA infections in the past. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jails, did not respond to questions about MRSA or O’Connor’s case.

O’Connor, 49, has had an eventful stay in the jail, from which judges have declined to release her because she faces charges of harming youths who have testified they feel she would be a danger to them out of custody.

While in custody, O’Connor was attacked by other female inmates last October. In court filings in the beating case against those other inmates, who pleaded no contest earlier this year, O’Connor told probation officials that most have apologized to her and they have all moved forward, but that one “continues to harass her while they are in custody and has made her time at (the) Elmwood (jail) difficult.”

Another court filing indicated O’Connor planned to seek $55,666 in restitution to cover medical treatment, including an $8,800 nose job and $780 orthodontic inserts, after the beating in which she suffered a broken nose, ribs and ankle,

Prosecutors in April leveled additional uncharged accusations against O’Connor that she tried to flee justice and that she had fallen in love with another female inmate with whom she planned to smuggle drugs into the jail to sell.