Jul 3, 2015

Three suspects, three stolen vehicles, three locations

On the morning of 07/03/15, at approximately 0757 hours, a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputy was on patrol in the Loleta area, when he observed a stolen vehicle parked in front of a residence in the 100 block of Bayview Drive. HCSO Deputies responded to the residence, where 31 year old Loleta resident Jeremiah Johnson, was contacted and arrested for possession of the stolen vehicle. The vehicle was recovered and towed from the scene. Jeremiah Johnson was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility (HCCF) for booking.

At approximately 1356 hours, a suspicious vehicle in the 30000 block of Hwy 254 was phoned in to the HCSO dispatch center. Upon arrival, Deputies determined the vehicle was stolen and had been painted and “cold plated”, which means the wrong license plates had been affixed to it. The vehicle was recovered and towed from the scene. HCSO Deputies continued with follow up investigation throughout the day, and developed, 30 year old Eureka resident Kenneth Burns, as the suspect.

At approximately 1418 hours, HCSO Deputies noticed a suspicious vehicle in the 400 block of Maple Lane in Garberville, which was possibly related to a separate investigation. HCSO Deputies contacted the female occupant of the vehicle, and simultaneously determined the vehicle was reported stolen. HCSO Deputies arrested the sole female occupant, 42 year old Redway resident Aronis Waters, for possession of the stolen vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. The vehicle was recovered and towed from the scene. Aronis Waters was transported to the HCCF for booking.

At approximately 1745 hours, HCSO Deputies responded to the 3800 block of “F” Street in Eureka, and arrested Kenneth Burns for possession of the stolen vehicle. Kenneth Burns was transported to the HCCF for booking.

Jury selection starts for man charged with recurring sexual acts with minor female child with whom he shared a home

Jury selection just started late last week  in Courtroom 4 for a case against John Kufner who is charged with recurring sexual conduct, PC 288.5 (a). The complaint alleges that there was "continuous sexual abuse" and that Kufner "engaged in three or more lewd or lascivious acts with Jane Doe, a child under 14 years". According to the complaint, he resided with and recurring access to the child.

Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis is prosecuting the case. Mr. Casey Russo from the Public Defender's office has been appointed to represent Kufner.

Man accused of "willfully and unlawfully inflicting cruel and inhuman corporal and injury resulting in a traumatic condition" to John Doe smiles in court like he was on a social outing

Michael Pratowski smiled as he sat in court and seemed rather nonchalant as Judge Marilyn Miles read the charge against him which is Penal Code 273 (d). The arraignment took place on July 2. Pratowski made bail. He sat in court talking with his attorney, Ms. Kathleen Bryson, as if he was out on a social call.

An emergency protective order had already been served on Pratowski and a CLETS protective order will be served on him in court on July 6. Judge Miles informed Pratowski he had to be in court on July 6, even though his attorney had filed a 977 form.

Pratowski is charged with "willfully and unlawfully inflicting cruel and inhuman corporal and injury resulting in a traumatic condition" to John Doe.

Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo is prosecuting the case.

An intervention hearing is scheduled for September 10. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 16.

From leginfo.ca.gov:

273d.Any person who willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel
or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic
condition is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment
pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, four, or six
years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, by a fine of
up to six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that imprisonment and

Public hearing on GPU at the Mateel

From Humboldt County website:

On Monday, July 13, 2015, at 11:00 am or as soon thereafter as the matter can be heard, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the Humboldt County General Plan Update - Planning Commission reviewed Draft Plan (Draft Plan).  The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and deliberate on the above listed topic.  The hearing will be held at the Mateel Center, 59 Rusk Lane, Redway California (wheelchair access is available).  A sign-up list for speakers will be provided at the venue for those persons wishing to present public testimony on the Draft Plan. The sign-up list will be available prior to hearing at 10:45 a.m. on the day of the hearing.

The Draft Plan, supporting documents and a schedule of the proposed hearing dates for the Draft Plan are available at theHumboldt County Planning Division’s website, and at the Planning and Building Department located at 3015 H Street, Eureka, California. Copies of the staff report and other meeting materials will be available at the Board of Supervisors website.

"Things escalated at the spur of the moment when the decedent called my client a white boy"

"I don't find any evidence under any theory" or "I don't find any evidence under any theory I can see". First quote by Mr. Elvine-Kreis, second quote by  Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo.

It was a case of you say theory, I say evidence, theory, evidence, theory, evidence, let's call the whole thing off.

A 995 motion was heard yesterday morning by Visiting Judge Schaefer in Courtroom 6 on the defense motion filed by Vincent Ortiz's attorney, Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis. Judge Schaefer will have a written ruling by or before July 6.

Four members from the Colegrove family, one of the victim's family and one member from the Ortiz family attended this hearing.

Referring to the 995 motion filed by Mr. Elvine-Kreis, Judge Schaefer started the hearing by saying, "We are here because there are counts which the defendant was not held to answer to after the preliminary hearing."

Vincent Ortiz was not held to answer on the murder count of Daniel Colegrove. He was only held to answer for one of the attempted murder counts, that for Roger Surber. Mr. Elvine-Kreis' 995 motion seeks to dismiss charges against Vincent Ortiz for the jury trial.

"I have read the transcript of the preliminary hearing," said Judge Schaefer. "It was very confusing. I need to read it again." Judge Schaefer mentioned the use of pronouns referring to multiple people as one example. "Exhibits are not critic to the decision I have to make. I have read the pleadings each of you have submitted. I am not making a decision, I will make every effort to have the decision by next Wednesday. "

Initially, Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo said that she would be glad to answer any specific questions the Judge had but that she had handed in a 15 page motion. She did respond after Mr. Elvine-Kreis' remarks.

Mr. Elvine-Kreis referring to a quote by Judge Marilyn Miles who was the Judge for the preliminary hearing said, "Judge Miles did make findings of fact. There was no evidence that supported the theories presented. He quoted Judge Miles as saying, 'I don't find any evidence under any theory'. "

"We are not challenging the Magistrate's (Judge Miles) decision, that is usually the case, the People are" said Mr. Elvine-Kreis. 

"There is no evidence that my client knew his father had a gun," said Mr. Elvine-Kreis. "There is no evidence for any theory other than speculation that there is aiding and abetting."

Referring to Ms. Pizzo's closing in the preliminary hearing, " Seems like is not a legal standard.'

"Their own investigator said on the stand that he was going to right a wrong." Then he cited a case, Burke. "Things escalated at the spur of the moment when the decedent called my client "a white boy." At this point, the Judge indicated he did not recall reading this in the transcript and Mr. Elvine-Kreis asked him to look for it. 

"He was short (referring to the marijuana amount). The marijuana deal was in the past," said Mr. Elvine-Kreis. "I believe the shooting happened because Rodney was upset at what the decedent was telling his son."

Judge Schaefer said, "I believe it appears that there are two problems. Whether he has been selling and whether sufficient quantity  was delivered."

Ms. Pizzo cited Pizano "as far as the People's ability to file information" and said it was "appropriate standard." She also said that was Judge Miles' said was, ""I don't find any evidence under any theory I can see."

"At no point did the defendant say, Oh my God, Dad you have a gun? He was not surprised because he knew his father had the gun."

Mr. Elvine-Kreis' brief response after Ms. Pizzo's remark was, "Absence of evidence does not make evidence."

Defense motion to continue Rodney Ortiz homicide jury trial develops into a matter of laughter for defendants; 995 motion to dismiss certain charges against Vincent Ortiz will be decided by next week

A 995 motion was heard yesterday morning by Visiting Judge Schaefer in Courtroom 6 on the defense motion filed by Vincent Ortiz's attorney, Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis. Judge Schaefer will have a written ruling by or before July 6.

Trial confirmation for both Rodney and Vincent Ortiz was scheduled for 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2 yesterday. Judge Marilyn Miles has been the judge since arraignment to preliminary hearing and until the case goes to jury trial.

One Ortiz family member and four Colegrove family members were present yesterday morning in Courtroom 6. No family members were in court later this afternoon. The victims' families travel from Hoopa for court hearings .

Rodney Ortiz was held to answer on all charges, one attempted murder and two attempted murder counts after the preliminary hearing.

Vincent Ortiz was not held to answer on the murder count of Daniel Colegrove. He was only held to answer for one of the attempted murder counts, that for Roger Surber.

Currently, the trial assignment is scheduled for July 17 and Jury trial for July 20. Rodney Ortiz's attorney, Mr. Casey Russo filed a motion to continue.

Last court hearing, Mr. Elvine-Kreis was not there and Mr. David Lee from his office appeared for him. Vincent Ortiz withdrew his motion to continue, on July 2, he informed Mr. Elvine-Kreis he "had changed his mind" in court.

Mr. Russo said that his client's "right to prepare for trial trumps Vincent Ortiz's right for a speedy trial."

Mr. Elvine-Kreis said, "If I am successful in my 995 motion, then there will only be one count of murder, if I am unsuccessful, we will file a motion to continue because I will need time to prepare."

DDA Pizzo responded, "The cases are joined. There is no motion to sever. The 995 motion ruling will be in by next Wednesday. Even if the 995 motion was granted, and I am not conceding, cases would remian joined."

Judge Miles pointed out, "both attorneys are indicating they will file motions to sever. If charges are less in one then Court could grant the motion, it's not that simple. I don't want to set a trial date until the 995 motion ruling is in and we know what charges both are facing. I am prepared to continue the motion to continue"

A visiting Judge will now hear the trial confirmation and Rodney Ortiz's motion to continue on on July 9 at 2 p.m.

In court yesterday, to further add to the logistics when a date could be set, Rodney Ortiz now wanted a Marsden hearing. He seemed perfectly happy with his counsel's representation so far.

Vincent Ortiz often laughs in court and so does his father and it appears they think using the legal system to delay and complicate matters is a game.

From Wikipedia: A Marsden motion is the only means by which a criminal defendant can fire a court-appointed attorney or communicate directly with a judge in a California state court.[1] It is based on a defendant's claim that the attorney is providing ineffective assistance or has a conflict with the defendant. The name comes from the case People v. Marsden. A defendant is required to know to make a challenge of ineffective assistance of counsel, and make one, or the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel or the issue cannot be raised on appeal. There is no requirement to notify a defendant of such a requirement.
A criminal defendant cannot simply fire a court-appointed attorney. The trial judge has discretion whether or not to appoint new counsel on request of the defendant.

Please read the previous posts since May2015,especially
http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2015/05/computer-error-demurrer-date-changes.html, to catch up.

Previous posts:

David Lockhart charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in 101 incident hires private attorney and wants a change in custodial status

David Lockhart is charged with a felony: homicide with the count of gross vehicular manslaughter and death of multiple victims.

When he was arraigned in May, he was led away in cuffs in front of the victim's family and friends. "What a difference this new DA has made," is what one of the victim's friends told me outside court that day. They are very pleased with DA Maggie Fleming and her office's handling  of the case. 

The Baker family, who lost their loved ones, have hired award winning and top criminal defense attorney Patrik Griego to represent them. Mr. Griego was also in court with the family.

A disposition and reset hearing was scheduled for July 2. Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo is prosecuting the case and Conflict Counsel's Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis had been appointed as Lockhart's attorney. Lockhart has retained a private attorney, Mr. Russ Clanton. In local cases that are recent, Mr. Clanton is represented Timothy Littlefield and Judson Stiglich.

Mr. Clanton tried to get another hearing on Lockhart's custodial status saying his "ciircumstances had changed." Judge Marilyn Miles informed him that OR/ Bail was denied on May 29 and that just because Lockhart gets a private attorney, he does not get another chance for OR/Bail and that he was charged with a serious crime of vehicular manslaughter but Mr. Clanton could file a motion for "change of circumstance." An intervention hearing is scheduled for July 30 at 3 p.m. and the Preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 30. 

Previous posts:


21 year old charged with oral copulation and statutory rape of minor victims hires private attorney, court hearing continued

Brendan Phillips is charged with oral copulation and stautory rape of two minor victims, one at least 10 years younger than him.

DDA Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case. Conflict Counsel's Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis had been appointed as Phillips' attorney but he has now been able to retain a private attorney, Mr.. Benjamin Okin. The disposition and reset hearing for July 2 is now going to happen on July 9.

Previous posts:


Jul 2, 2015

City of Eureka marsh clean up commences today

The City of Eureka has established a maintenance/clean-up schedule for City owned marsh areas
beginning Thursday, July 3. These areas will have routine maintenance including trash and invasive vegetation
removal on a rotating basis every Thursday.
EPD will provide not less than 72-hour notification to illegal encampments and be present to
ensure compliance during each clean-up. Illegal campers must remove any personal belongings
while the area is cleaned. No personal belongings will be discarded or impounded during this
clean-up. During the initial clean-ups, a front loader will be used to remove trash for efficiency.
Heavy equipment will not be used to remove any living vegetation. Living vegetation removal
will be limited to invasive species only (pampas grass, fennel, non-native berries, spartina,
hemlock, etc.) using a weed whacker.
This routine clean-up program is not for criminalizing houseless or solving our homeless issues.
This program is designed to address the City’s responsibility as a property owner. Those illegally
camping on City property will now be on notice that every Thursday is the day routine
maintenance will occur and to pack up all personal belongings during this clean-up period. Parks
and Recreation is responsible for maintaining the greenbelts and will be the lead on illegal
dumping abatement and encampment remnant clean up. EPD presence is just to insure
compliance with the notification process and make sure order is maintained.
The City has recently improved the PALCO Marsh interpretive walk and intends to extend public
access along the railroad corridor and adjacent properties with the extension of the Waterfront
Trail. The City intends to make the existing public access at PALCO Marsh and future Waterfront
Trail clean and safe for appropriate uses. This on-going program is important to address the
City’s responsibility as a property owner and to address the environmental damage resulting from
existing inappropriate activities.
The clean-up and maintenance will be done by SWAP with assistance from City staff. The clean-
up schedule for those impacted areas will be posted on the City’s web site and social media outlets.

Benjamin Carter jury trial date moved a week; People's offer clarified by DA Maggie Fleming in court

Benjamin Carter's jury trial could have been heard in Courtroom 5 by Presiding Judge Joyce Hinrichs but Carter's attorney, Mr. Michael Acosta said he wanted Judge Hinrichs disqualified, according to Penal Code 170.6

From a site on judicial disqulification in California:

"California has adopted a detailed statutory framework for determining whether a judge should be disqualified in a particular circumstance. Pursuant to this framework, two basic methods exist by which a party may seek to disqualify a California judge: he may either challenge the judge for cause-- pursuant to C.C.P. Secs. 170.1 through 170.5--or file a peremptory challenge--pursuant to Sec. 170.6."

"Section Sec. 170.6 may be invoked in either a civil or criminal action. "

"While Sec. 170.6 theoretically does not entitle a litigant to select the judge whom he wishes to appear before--but only to disqualify a judge whom he genuinely believes to be biased,--a party who moves for disqualification under Sec. 170.6 need not provide the court with a factual basis for its belief that the judge is biased."

In response to this post yesterday, http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2015/07/people-make-offer-of-four-years-to-be.html, District Attorney Maggie Fleming told me today today's trial assignment calendar was called, that misinformation had been provided regarding the People's offer and that she wanted to correct the information. 

On record in court, Ms. Fleming told the Judge that there has been "no other offer" made in the defense case. The People's offer "has always been that Mr. Carter plead to the remaining count and admit the prior strike and a six year term."

Carter is still determined to have his day in court. Due to courtroom availability, his jury trial is now scheduled for July 13. Trial Assignment is on July 10 at 8:30.