May 16, 2014

The Timothy Littlefield story the mainstream media did not cover; another juror gives perspective

On May 9, I posted on this blog that the Timothy Littlefield case would be retried, possibly due to juror misconduct. Since I was not in court, I wanted to verify and get some information.

The next week, the NCJ and Times-Standard followed up. Those publications said that the case has a retrial and that a mistrial was declared due to juror misconduct. The first time this case was tried, the jurors deadlocked 11-1; the second time, all jurors found him guilty of 11 charges and he was sentenced to eight life sentences without parole. The District Attorney's Office is appealing Judge John Feeney's decision to the State Attorney General. That's it.

So who do you believe? The juror who did not sign the sworn affadavit  until May 5, 2014. In his affadavit, he claims he did not realize the defense had no burden of proof. But this did not dawn on him until he talked to the defense's investigator.

According to the sworn affadavit on May 5, this juror received a phone call in September 2013 from a private investigator, Kevin Stonebarger, who asked him if he was willing to talk about his time spent as a juror. Fair enough. Attorneys for both sides do that. The timing was shortly after the verdict was reached in the 2nd trial.

Russ Clanton who represents Timothy Littlefield has been vocal about his client's innocence. He has been quoted and has talked with me. He went to great lengths to get the verdict thrown out. There were motions filed with the Court after the verdict alleging that advocacy groups were communicating with witnesses. They were denied.

This affadavit comes after these other attempts failed. It was in this affadavit that this juror suddenly had questions about the victim's grandmother and mother. Again, a claim made by Mr. Clanton when defending Littlefield.

The victim is a young family member, Littlefield is someone she knew and trusted.

Even Mr. Clanton has been quoted saying that District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Judge John Feeney and he all gave explicit and clear instructions to the jury about burden of proof.

In this affadavit, the juror Michael Lynch, claims that the prosecutor and the investigating officer were communicating with other jurors. This was conveyed to Mr. Lynch by Mr. Stonebarger.

Mr. Stonebarger did not witness any such interactions or he would have reported them, he said.

It seems that Mr. Lynch came to several conclusions and a change of heart after speaking with Mr. Stonebarger.

In court, under questioning from the Judge, Mr. Lynch claimed differently and said that he did know that only the prosecution had burden of proof.

So which is it Mr. Lynch? When were you telling the truth? In the jury room when you deliberated and agreed with the other jurors? When you signed the affadavit? Or in court to Judge Feeney?

Having been a juror locally, covered and sat in on many jury trials, the Judges are serious, the attorneys hammer the point over and over again that the prosecution has the burden of proof. That is what jury selection is about.

Since I have been covering the Cook cases and a few cases, a concerned community member has anonymously communicated with me and has commented on my blog. I had no idea who this person was, except that he or she appreciated my coverage of the courts and the child molestation cases.

When I did the recent Littlefield post, I was contacted by this person. I have spoken to this individual who was a juror in the same trial. I will not reveal this person's identity because I do not want this individual harassed or intimidated into silence.

Here is what this person had to say to me initially via email:

"Seems like a ridiculous decision to me, months after the trial, one juror says something to Clanton's investigator, as easily misspeaking as anything, and even after on the stand saying he knew that the burden was with the prosecution, the verdict can be tossed?

 All three parties (Clanton, Gallegos, Feeney) gave explicit and clear instructions throughout the trial and at the start of deliberations about the burden of proof and the necessary standard for conviction. The jury unanimously decided that burden was met (easily, I might add). Suddenly none of that matters because one of the jurors has second thoughts (possible coerced or otherwise influenced by the defense, something that is forbidden during trial for this very reason)?

The limited coverage makes the mistrial sound extremely suspicious. A convicted child rapist was set free and we have almost no information as to why. Your coverage of the courthouse is as good as any in the county, I hope you can shed some more light on this."

This person summarized what many feel.

When I spoke with this individual, this person said "I had a business card left at my place from Kevin Stonebarger. Did not call him back"  Seems like one juror caved in; the question is why.

 I don't just accept what Paul says to me. I ask questions beyond the surface. That is why he does not respond to me. Thad and Will are writers I respect but it easy to accept Paul's reasons when you don't know the personal history of the attorneys, their views on certain issues; these opinions do affect the cases they try. There is often an untold story behind certain cases.

We ask a jury to base their decision on evidence. Yet attorneys can have feelings that may bias them but can be masked under procedures. We have excellent Judges and good attorneys locally and they do a good job.

The decision to appeal to the Attorney General, some attorneys feel is a lost cause, it will be denied. Judge Feeney, according to these lawyers, did not make a bad ruling, juror misconduct is a serious allegation.

A person is entitled to a good defense. Timothy Littlefield has a lawyer who believes he is innocent. Yet, something about this sudden change of heart does not add up.

Come to your own conclusions. 

Message from Alan Sunshine Marcet's grandmother to Christina's family and friends.

She left this comment on the blog. I thought this was worth sharing.

"I am Alan (Sunshine) Marcet's Grandmother, I'm 82 years of age and live in Alabama. Am unable to be at the trial, as is my daughter, Nancy Jo Marcet, mother of Sunshine. She is an International School Teacher and out of the country working. It is with deep regret that we cannot be there in person. Our hearts' and love are with Alan and Christina's family and friends".

Nancy Marcet has also commented. Having met Christina's mother and just from the emails from the Marcet family, you can see these two wonderful people were surrounded with love.

Armed robbery, set up or coincidence?

On 05-15-2014 at about 0800 a Deputy spoke to a victim on the telephone, who wanted to report that he was robbed at gunpoint on 05-14-2014 at about 7:00 p.m. The victim was calling from Windsor, California to report that he works for a trucking company based out of Windsor. The victim said last night he made a delivery of soil to a customer, who met him at the Salmon Creek exit at Highway 101 in Miranda. The victim said after the customer picked up the soil bags he was paid cash and the customer left.

The victim said after the customer drove away an approximately 25 foot, cream colored, Winnebago drove up and stopped at his location at the Salmon Creek exit. Two male suspects got out of the Winnebago and one of the suspects asked the victim if he had any money. One of the suspects then pointed a pistol towards the victim and demanded money. The victim then handed over an undisclosed amount of cash to one of the suspects.  The victim said that one of the suspects grabbed his cellular telephone and threw it on the ground breaking the phone. The suspect then told the victim, now you can’t call the cops. The victim said that the suspects then got back into the Winnebago and drove away. The victim said he drove back to Windsor then called our office to make a report.

The two suspects are described as the following:

1) 30 year old, white male, approximately, 6 feet tall, 175 pounds with dreadlocks.
2) 30 year old, white male, 220 pounds with dreadlocks.

The Sheriff’s Office is requesting if anyone has information on this incident to please call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251.

May 15, 2014

Timothy Littlefield posted bail and is out of custody

He was released yesterday at 2 p.m.

Click it or Ticket; wear that seatbelt!

Eureka Police Department wants to remind motorists to Click It or Ticket.  In order to enforce this reminder, beginning Monday, May 19th, officers will be joining in the 2014 national seat belt enforcement mobilization and cracking down on motorists who are not belted.

Even with a seatbelt usage rate of 97.4 percent, California still has 800,000 or more who aren’t buckling up.  In a crash, they stand a 50 percent greater chance of being killed than those who have taken the two seconds to buckle in.  In an on-going effort to reach those remaining safety hold-outs, police, sheriff and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) departments across the state will be taking part in Click It or Ticket from May 19 through June 1.

“Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer vacation season, and we want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safe and sound,” said Senior Traffic Officer Gary Whitmer. “If you are not wearing your seat belt, you will be ticketed.”

According to new data released from the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities are up nationwide for the first time in five years. In 2012, 10,335 people who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing their seat belts. NHTSA data also details how more traffic vehicle deaths occur at night. In 2012, 61 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed during the nighttime hours of 6:00 p.m. – 5:59 a.m. were not wearing their seat belts.  

“Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest and best things you can do to protect yourself in the event of a car crash,” said Rhonda Craft, Director of the California Office of Traffics Safety. “Taking a few moments to properly secure yourself and all your passengers before going on your way could mean the difference between life and death.”

The cost for a seat belt violation in California for unbuckled vehicle occupants over age 16 is a minimum of $161 for a first offense. The penalty fees for failing to properly buckle up any child under the age of 16 is a minimum $490 per child for a first offense, plus a violation point will be added to the driver’s record. If the parent is not in the car, the driver gets the ticket.

For more traffic safety information, visit the California Office of Traffic Safety at or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Click It or Ticket mobilization,

Gantner resists officers when they try and detain him; arrested for marijuana, mushrooms and manufacturing of a controlled substance

On 05-15-2014 at about 12:30 p.m. the Humboldt County Drug Task Force assisted by the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at a residence located in the 1300 block of Harris Street, Eureka.

Officer detained 4 male subjects located at the residence. One of the male subjects gave a false name to the officers on scene. That subject was later identified as Steven Timothy Gantner age 36 from Eureka. Gantner also resisted the officers when they went to detain him in handcuffs.

When officers searched the residence  they located a Butane Marijuana Honey Oil extraction lab in the residence along with multiple cases of butane canisters. Officers located 9 grams of Psilocybin Mushrooms, 36 pounds of dried marijuana trim/leaf material, 19.7 pounds of concentrated cannabis and a total of 535.3 grams of Butane Honey Oil. Officer seized 29 growing marijuana plants from inside of the residence. Officers seized $ 5,690.00 dollars in cash in this case for possible asset forfeiture.

Steven Gantner was arrested for manufacturing of controlled substance by chemical extraction ( Hash Lab), cultivation and possession for sales of marijuana, possession of Psilocybin mushrooms, resisting arrest and providing a false name to law enforcement. Gantner was transported to the Humboldt County jail and his bail was set at $500,000 dollars. Additional Gantner was booked on two warrants for his arrest out of the state of Minnesota for marijuana related offenses.

The other three subjects were released at the scene and were determined to not be involved in this case.

This case is still under investigation by the Humboldt County Drug Task Force. If anyone has information of this case or any other drug related issue they are encouraged to contact the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at 707-444-8095.

Bodhi Tree Trial Day 2

Day 2 is Officer Amber Cosetti testifying with photographs supporting her testimony of what she saw when they arrived at 1936 J Street. Photos of screen door, alley, bullet on first step of stairwell.

So far supports Officer Cosetti's testimony and prosecution theory. Christina's mom not here today but other friends are; less people in the courtroom today.

One new piece of information today from Officer Cosetti's testimony is that other than marijuana no other drugs or drug paraphenilia found.

While people's photos were being entered into evidence, first time Bodhi Tree spoke and was louder than a whisper communicating with Ms. Holmquist. Most emotion or animation he has shown at any court proceeding so far. And he communicated with Ms. Holmquist several times during today's court proceedings.

He has in the past looked at the clock during a court hearing but today he turned several times and looked at the clock and whispered to Ms. Holmquist. Not sure why but it isn't like he can go somewhere during the course of the trial. He is in custody.

Testimony on the second day also included EPD senior detective Todd Wilcox and PSO Linda Schwend.

It is hard on days like today to convey what happened in the courtroom when testimony relates to visual evidence. You have to be there.

Today's testimony focused on evidence found, how it was collected and defense trying but failing  to raise doubt in their questions. Quite often Mr. Russo's objections were overruled by Judge Reinholtsen today.

Mr. Russo in his questioning was able to get the prosecution witnesses that in one photo the garbage can may have been moved but there was no acknowledgement that it was during evidence collection. Similarly, a question about civilians coming in and out of the crime scene whete Rhett August was shot but Mr. Russo did not ask nor was it proven that it happened during evidence collection.

One such objection about Det. Wilcox not being a qualified expert was something Ms. Firpo turned around in court to a positive. She asked questions, laying the foundation and establishing that the Detective could testify to a photograph that depicted a bullet gouge in the wall .

The defense made claims in opening arguments about the police investigation and evidence and prosecution theory; so far with two days of testimony, the prosecution has done a very detailed and through job with testimony of backing up the timeline and theory Ms. Firpo presented in her opening argument.

Jurors listened attentively as Ms. Firpo through the testimony of Officer Cosetti, Det. Wilcox and Ms. Schwend accompanied by aerial photographs and actual photographs of the 1936 J street residence, where Rhete August was shot at on May 15 by Bodhi Tree. Photographs of a bullet on the first step of the stairwell, photographs of bags filled with processed marijuana, red circular stains consistent with blood that has been wiped up in the hallway and kitchen, the trash can behind which allegedly Bodhi Tree hid and shot at Rhett August were all shown.

Randy Cook booked back in custody

According to jail reports, he was booked at 9:45 p.m. He is back in custody.

May 14, 2014

Jail is not all about incarceration; "We want to prepare the inmate for society; we want to reduce recividism"

I did a walk thru of the Humboldt County Jail with Lt. Marco Luna, Operations Lieutenant, Custody Services Division yesterday.

First stop where every inmate brought into custody is taken in. We walked from pre-booking and every step until  when an inmate is released. Even the attorney and client meeting rooms. I got to see the different housing units: general population; maximum security, the kitchen, the classroom. There are also female housing units, Cal-Trans units.

As I walked with him, whether it was correctional officers or multiple murder suspect Jason Warren that we ran into; Lt. Luna commands respect.

"The old jail facility was a barred, linear facility," Lt. Luna told me. "It was controlled by the inmates." By law, every half an hour we had to do a cell check. The inmates were good when we were watching but when we were not around, there were crimes committed and we were always reacting".

With this new facility, there are no bars. The officer spends time with 70 plus inmates with direct supervision. "Now we can be pro-active instead of reacting," he said. The maximum security is still cells with the inmates given breaks and time to come out shower and make phone calls.

The housing unit we spent some time observing was for general population and there was one female officer on duty. Some people were in their beds, some taking a shower, couple others watching one of the two TVs in the unit. Not everyone gets to watch TV or be in general population.. There are certain privileges afforded for good behavior. "The better you behave, the better the environment."

Even someone brought in for a DUI can spend the time they need to sober up either watching TV in a lobby or in a cell. All depends on behavior and the individual.

People who are "vulnerables such as mentally ill or disabled; someone who the general population may take advantage of are housed in lockdown. Also if you are violent.

There are evaluations about housing and work conditions which are made to ensure the safety of the inmates as well as the staff because people who work at the Jail are career staff, said Lt. Luna. "It takes a special kind of person to deal with some of the conditions. You have to clean up after someone who may have urinated, spit at you and keep control. It takes communications skills and to know how to manage behavior."

There are programs such as AA, NA, Religious Studies; Meditation available to inmates. Responding to criticism that this is too comfy an environment for people in custody, Lt. Luna responded with, "Not every one in County Jail is someone who has been convicted."

The jail is working with College of the Redwoods to offer college ready courses and cognitive training. "We want to prepare  the inmate for society; we want to reduce recividism," Lt. Luna told me.

"Majority of the individuals, up to 85% are situational inmates," said Lt. Luna. "They are normal individuals like you and me when they are off drugs. We provide structure they don't have outside."

Lt. Luna said "this is the nicest, most modern facility north of Sonoma County."

With AB 109, there are additional programs for someone to earn good time that can apply towards their sentences in jail. Inmates learn skills by working in the kitchen or programs such as SWAP or Cal-Trans work program.

What you make of your time in custody is up to you. Lt. Luna is sympathetic to the local challenges of staying away from drugs and alcohol but he firmly believes in providing the tools and encouraging people to return and assimilate productively in society.

Peace Officers Memorial Day

Chief Andrew Mills has announced that the flag at the Eureka Police Department will be
flown at half-staff Thursday May, 15th as a proclamation of Peace Officers Memorial Day.

A memorial service will be held at the flagpole May 15 at 9:30 a.m. to recognize and honor
the officers who have died in the line of duty.

Detective Charlie Swanson, Reserve Officer Pat Mitchell, and Police Officer Pete Carroll died
while working for the Eureka Police Department. Their sacrifice and dedication is appreciated
and will not be forgotten.

Highlights of defense opening arguments in the Bodhi Tree trial

Heidi Holmquist who is defending Bodhi Tree along with Casey Russo opened her remarks with, "I am proud to tell you and the entire community the truth about this case." I looked up what Bodhi Tree's name meant and it is a Sanskrit word meaning enlightenment.

Ms. Holmquist was very forceful and did not mince words in her opening remarks.

"What you will  hear is enlightement about how police investigations are conducted, how a person can be arrested on the word of a known heroin addict, " she said. Ms. Holmquist talked about Bodhi Tree's previous arrest.

Ms. Holmquist said that Bodhi Tree was intoxicated at the party and she did acknowledge that he "hit on a woman" at the party, that he was at the Eye Street house on and off on May 16 and 17. That Bodhi was intoxicated when Arcata law enforcement interviewed him.

The intoxication affirms the prosecution account of Bodhi Tree consuming alcohol during the same time frame.

"At no time did they tell him he was being charged with homicide," said Ms. Holmquist. She mentioned the word of a heroin addict for the second time. "Mr. Tree is not the muderer, he was an easy target, no one saw the crime."

Ms. Holmquist said that "evidence will show Mr. Marcet and Ms. Schwarz were not boyfriend and girlfriend. There is no evidence of confrontation."

Again she mentioned reliance on the word of a "known junkie." Pointed out that no gun was recovered and said "Sean Butler-Smith who was intoxicated during his interogation is someone who will say anything to get his next fix." She said he is on felony probation and alleged that police gave his heroin back to him after "he gave them what they wanted to hear."

"The prosecution wants you to take Sean Butler'Smith's word as end of the story," said Ms. Holmquist. "Throughout this trial the story is twisted to fit the prosecution's theory. Mr. Tree is not a perfect person but he is not a killer. All you will find in this case is reasonable doubt."

The morning concluded with the questioning of Officer Drake Goodale and Officer Cosetti who will continue her testimony tomorrow. The two officers are witnesses to the Rhett August shooting which occurred in Eureka. Mr. Russo is questioning the Eureka witnesses and Ms. Holmquist the Arcata witnesses.

Highlights of prosecution opening arguments in the Bodhi Tree trial

Elan Firpo started her opening argument with the date of the first incident, May 15,  which was the alleged shooting of Rhett August and for which Bodhi Tree is charged with attempted murder. She described the apartment, the time, 11 p.m. , described the scene. Rhett goes to the answer the door, cannot see who is there but the porch light indicates someone approached the door. Peers through the security screen, still no one in sight. Opens the door and walks out in the darkness Says hello. 3 to 5 shots ring out and the 2nd shot hits Rhett.

All he sees is muzzle shots, does not see who shot him, hears more shots and footsteps on the gravel driveway. As she was setting the scene, Ms. Firpo pointed out the releavance and connection of the driveway. He lifts his shirt and sees he has been shot. Goes up to his apartment and tells this to his friends. They think he is kidding until he shows them his wound. Ms. Firpo tells the jury that Rhett had to have part of his lung removed. "He has no idea of who and why he was shot," said Ms. Firpo.

She told the jury that the police did their investaigation, that "there is no good reason" why Rhett August was shot. "I am going to tell you what we believed happened."

Then she tells them about a few days ago when Rhett and his friends had a party. "They run with a wild crowd," she said. "One of the people he invited was Mr. Bodhi Tree." Ms. Firpo said Rhett and Bodhi were not good friends. But they knew each other.

According to the prosecution, at the party, a female guest rebuffed Bodhi Tree's advances, he groped her, she complained. Several men at the party came to her defense. They jumped and beat Bodhi.

"Rhett will tell you he did not participate or encourage the beating but he was present. Bodhi left some items which Rhett delivered on May 14," said Ms. Firpo. No communication between the two that day.

"You will hear Bodhi was pissed, " said Ms. Firpo. "You will hear from the police that Bodhi hid behind the trash can (when he allegedly shot at Rhett August). Rhett talked to the the police officers at the hospital. Between May 15 and May 28 there was another shooting, by that time the police have a theory." May 28 was the second time the police spoke to Rhett.

Ms. Firpo then described the Eye street shooting involving Christina and Sunshine. "When the police arrived, they find a temporary bed in the living room. The female victim dead, a roomate applying pressure to the male victim's chest. Sunshine died later." Several gunshots, roomate describes a black man with a tatoo that says Tree, identified later as the defendant. Roomates found his personality "off-putting." Ms. Firpo related an incident by one of the residents at the Eye street house where allegedly Bodhi Tree got very upset about a sweatshirt he had left in her room and when she moved it.

Again, allegedly Bodhi Tree put the "moves on Christina", her boyfriend Sunshine tells him to "back off" and they are both shot at close range. Ms. Firpo said that Bodhi Tree shows a firearm to one of the witnesses. That he was missing after the shootings. Sean Butler-Smith is the prosecution witness whose testimony ties the two incidents.

Ms. Firpo then related the testimony of two witnesses, Charlie and Sean that allegedly drove Bodhi Tree to Rhett August's house. How he ended up at the Eye Street house. Sean took him there. "Sean Butler Smith is not a person who normally talks to law enforcement but he knew he took Bodhi Tree to the Eye Street house," said Ms. Firpo. Prosecution has subpoenaed other witnesses who refused to testify, "they are not showing the same courage as Sean Butler-Smith."

Ms. Firpo said the police did investigate other leads, it is their job. She did state they had not recovered the firearm used in the shootings. Ms. Firpo was also upfront about Sean Butler-Smith's heroin use.

Ms. Firpo was very calm and spoke in a firm but gentle manner when she addressed the jury. She used Bodhi and other witnesses first names and nicknames several times instead of Mr or Ms. and did the same with the victims which I thought was very effective. It personalized those involved.

Two officers fired at by William Nelson ,Deputy Cao and Sgt. Swithenbank

The Humboldt County Critical Incident Team (C.I.R.T) through their joint investigation learned that the suspect, William Nelson fired his handgun at the two officers. The two Officers fired back with their duty issued handguns after the Deputy was shot. The Officer who was shot in the chest area is Deputy Bang Cao, who has been employed with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office for about 6 ½ years. Deputy Cao is currently still on paid administrative leave, until the investigation is completed by C.I.R.T. Deputy Cao is at home and is still recovering from his injuries and is under the care of a local doctor. The second Deputy involved in the Shooting is Sergeant Ken Swithenbank, who has been employed by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office for about 25 years. Sergeant Swithenbank is also currently on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed by C.I.R.T.

William Nelson is still currently being held in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for attempted homicide of a peace officer and convicted felon in possession of a firearm and his bail has been set at $ 600,000 dollars.

Bodhi Tree Jury Trial first day; opening arguments compelling

With his locks shaved, dressed in black slacks, Bodhi Tree walked with his attorneys into Courtroom 4. Light day on the 2nd floor, the hallway is not as packed.

Only Times Standard, Channel 3, myself and the jurors sitting at a distance as we wait to enter the courtroom.

Trial started a couple minutes ago, a few minutes late. 6 family members and supporters of the victims are in the courtroom. Judge is giving pre- trial instructions to the jury.

Other attorneys and members of the public came in at different times during the morning and approximately 20 people were in the audience .

Elan Firpo, who is prosecuting the case , in her opening argument set the scene for the jury for both shootings, introduced highlights of witnesses testimony and involvement and explained the prosecution theory and evidence.

The prosecution theory paints a sexually aggressive man;, angry when his advances are rebuffed by women; angry at their boyfriends and friends who protect them; a man who doesn't fit in and someone who shot 3 people unexpectedly in the dark.

At one point when Ms Firpo quoted what Mr. Tree allegedly said to a witness, "I got 2 more" after he allegedly shot Christina and Sunshine, Christina's mom looked over at Bodhi Tree. She was calm and peaceful this morning and sat stoically through the proceedings. You can tell where Christian got her good disposition.

The Defense presented their opening after the morning break. Heidi Holmquist's basic assertion, which she mentioned at least 5 times, is that the prosecution is basing their case on the testimony of a known unreliable heroin addict.

Both the prosecution and defense made powerful opening arguments with Ms. Firpo and Ms. Holmquist's styles being very different.

May 13, 2014

Elan Firpo Meet and Greet in Briceland

Elan Firpo will hold a meet and greet at Beginnings Octagon in Briceland on Sunday May 18 from  4 – 7 pm.

Attendees can speak  with Elan. There will be music by Peter Childs and Chris McCurdy,  commentary by KMUD Monday Morning Show host Dennis Huber and Michael Evenson of the Mattole Salmon Group.

Admission is free. Light food and punch will be provided, No Host beer and wine. Potluck dishes are welcome.  For more information about this event, call (707) 834-5340.

Beginnings is located 5.7 miles west of Redway, just off the Briceland-Thorn road (Shelter Cove/Kings Range route) at 5 Cemetary Rd.

For information about Elan’s campaign, visit,, email, or call (707) 273-1430.

Shocker NOT! Frequent flier Shiloh Chase in custody again

Shiloh Chase has been arrested again! Shocker! For resisting arrest. Another surprise NOT!

And here we go again. Will he charm his way out yet again or this time does he get to face any consequences?

Courthouse Cafe: you don't have to be a juror or attorney or work in the courthouse to eat here

Courthouse Cafe, located on the third floor of the Courthouse, is not to be confused with Downtown Express Cafe located near the Courthouse.

Both are locally owned businesses but the Courthouse Cafe is a great bargain for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are open 7:30 to 4 on weekdays, except on Fridays they close at 2.

They have the widest selection of drinks, snacks and a special every day for $6.50 which is the best bargain downtown. Inside tip, those who frequent the cafe daily often reserve the special, so it's first come, first served.

Owner Jeannie Fleek and her staff Krissy and Stacy are always friendly. You can choose from sandwiches, burgers, burritos and a salad bar. They also do catering for private events.

Check the cafe out next time you are at the Courthouse.

City of Eureka Grand Opening of Humboldt Council of the Blind Sensory Garden

 At noon on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, the City of Eureka will be hosting the grand
opening of the Humboldt Council of the Blind’s new Sensory Garden at the foot of F Street. In
April of this year, City Council directed staff to work with the Humboldt Council of the Blind to
establish a Sensory Garden at the foot of F Street on the Boardwalk.

Sensory gardens provide intimate spaces where both children and adults can be immersed in the
scents, sounds, textures and colors of plants and related elements. Council of the Blind have
worked with Parks and Recreation staff and installed a sensory garden in planters along the

Armed suspect who robbed Bonomini's Market is dangerouus, call law enforcement if whereabouts known

On 05-12-14 at about 9:30 pm, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received the report of an armed robbery at Bonomini’s Market in the 3800 block of Little Fairfield Street, Eureka. The clerk reported the suspect entered the market, brandished a handgun at them and demanded cash.  The suspect was last seen fleeing on foot westbound on Allard Avenue carrying a pillow case.  The pillow case contained the market’s cash drawer with an undisclosed amount of currency.  The suspect did not fire the handgun and there were no reported injuries.   

The suspect was described as wearing all black clothing with a black mask covering his face.  It is believed the suspect is possibly a white male adult, tall with a large build. The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of obtaining surveillance footage of the suspect and photographs will be released at a later time.  This investigation is on-going.

The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous.  If anyone has information regarding the identity and whereabouts of the suspect do not attempt to contact or apprehend him.  Call 911 or the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.  Information can also be forwarded to the sheriff’s crime tip-line at (707) 268-2539.

You, the public, deserve the credit, thanks to all who called and followed up on the Cook case

I received many calls and emails regarding the Cook case and thanks. In the last couple of months, few people asked me why the rest of the media did not cover the case.

I did not know what to tell them. Most people did not know about the case but after it was on this blog, it should have got attention. To all of you, especially the numerous victims, who did not get their day in court, you will be happy to know that North Coast Journal's Thad Greenson will be looking into this case. I have not heard back from the Times-Standard but I hope they do as well.

You the public who called made the difference. You deserve the credit for standing up for Cook's victims.

I hope the media and the public put the same scrutiny on the Littlefield case. How very convenient for Timothy Littlefield's attorney to find a juror whose claim has resulted in a mistrial. How very convenient for this juror who comes forward now alleging that he did not understand burden of proof.

In both instances, the men deserve a competent defense, but they do not deserve special treatment. They have the money to hire two private attorneys who will go to any lengths to make sure their clients keep using the system.

Why should they be treated differently than someone who does not have the resources?

This is not about the DA's office or the prosecutor. It is about a criminal justice system where certain offenders think they can buy justice. And certain attorneys, who time after time, take such cases, victims be damned.

It makes me proud to live in Humboldt County where citizens care enough about issues that matter.

Randy Cook told to turn himself in to custody; does not meet SWAP criteria

This morning Lt. Marco Luna, Operations Lieutenant, Custody Services Division said"

"After speaking with the SWAP officer, and reviewing the case a little closer Mr. Cooks case does not really fit our SWAP criteria. We decided to have him turn himself back into Custody and serve the rest of his sentence in custody".

May 12, 2014

2 answers in the affirmative; only jail confirmation pending

Both Ms. Neel and the victim's other in the Cook case have heard that Randy Cook's SWAP was revoked. Only awaiting confirmation from the jail or SWAP lieutenant.

Randy Cook SWAP revoked? Hopefully yes.

6 days ago, I wrote about Randall Miles Cook out on SWAP. Now I hear there may have been some follow-up and his SWAP may be revoked.

Now that other mainstream media is interested in the story, look for updates here or elsewhere. I have contacted both the Sheriff's office and ADA Kelly Neel who prosecuted the case for a response.

Thank you to NCJ's Thad Greenson for following up on the Littlefield post; new trial on June 30

Thank you to Thad Greenson for following up on the Littlfield post. Niether Paul Gallegos or Russ Clanton got back to me; but below is Thad's post on the NCJ blogthing. Thanks to NCJ for also giving credit where they heard about the possible mistrial.

McKinleyville Man Facing 8 Life Sentences Granted Mistrial

POSTED BY  ON MON, MAY 12, 2014 AT 12:43 PM

click to enlargeDREW HYLAND
A McKinleyville man was sitting in the proverbial executioner’s chair last week when the power went out.

Timothy Floyd Littlefield was facing eight life sentences in state prison without the possibility of parole stemming from convictions on 11 child molestation charges when he stood before Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Feeney last week at a sentencing hearing. Instead of sentencing Littlefield to serve 188 years to life, as he said was his intent, Feeney declared a mistrial in the case, finding juror misconduct in the months-long trial that wrapped in September.

“In all my years as a laywer, I have never seen anything like this,” Littlefield’s attorney, Russell Clanton said. “It was a great day for justice.”

It's the second time Littlefield’s case had ended in a mistrial, after jurors deadlocked at 11-1 in favor of convicting him on all counts in 2012. This time, jurors deliberated for just three hours, returning guilty verdicts on all 11 charges.

Police arrested Littlefield in February 2009 on allegations of repeatedly molesting Jane Doe, who was an 8-year-old family member of his at the time of the offenses. Prosecutors argued during both trials that Littlefield kept the girl in isolation and threatened her to keep quiet as he molested her in secret for more than a year. Clanton argued at the trials that Jane Doe, her mother and another witness concocted the allegations to get back at Littlefield for abusing his wife.

Littlefield appeared crushed at the jury verdict in September, when he collapsed onto counsel table, sobbing, as the court clerk rattled off the guilty verdicts to all counts. In the wake of the conviction, Clanton has worked extensively to try to get the verdicts vacated, filing a number of motions, including one alleging that advocacy groups were texting witnesses in the case from the courtroom as the trial was proceeding. Feeney denied the motions until the topic of juror misconduct came up last week.

Clanton said he and a defense investigator have been feverishly working the case in recent months looking to get Littlefield — who he maintains is innocent — a chance at another trial. “When you have that kind of conviction, it has to be Sherman’s march to the sea,” he said. “You can’t leave anything. We looked at every possible issue we could possibly look at, and interviewed as many jurors as we could possibly talk to.”

One of those jurors, Clanton said, told his investigator that he simply felt the defense didn’t prove Littlefield was not guilty during the trial. “I almost fell out of my chair,” Clanton said. Knowing the criminal justice system places the burden of proof on the prosecution in all cases, and that he, Feeney and the prosecutor, District Attorney Paul Gallegos, had all gone to lengths to explain that to the jurors, Clanton said he then had the juror sign a sworn declaration saying he felt the defense didn’t prove its case.

Gallegos said the juror, when called to the stand at the sentencing hearing, told the court that he knew it was, in fact, the prosecution who had the burden of proving its case. But the declaration was ultimately enough for Feeney to declare a mistrial, saying he couldn’t send a man to prison for life with this potential juror misconduct hanging over the case, according to Clanton.

Gallegos said he will, “of course,” be retrying the case and Feeney set a new trial date for June 30. (Unconfirmed rumors that the case was headed for a retrial were first reported on John Chiv's blog Friday). Littlefield’s bail has been set at $500,000. He was still in custody as of Monday morning, according to jail staff, but Clanton said he expects his client to post bail.

The alleged victim in the case is now a teenager, and Gallegos said he feels terrible that she will be put through another trial and asked to testify again. She’s been dealing with Littlefield’s criminal case now, Gallegos said, for five years.

On May 15, Will Houston, Times-Standard wrote:

District Attorney's Office to appeal judge's decision with state
By Will Houston

McKinleyville resident Timothy Floyd Littlefield is scheduled to stand trial for a third time next month on 11 child molestation charges after a mistrial was declared last week.

Littlefield was arrested in February 2009 on accusations that he regularly molested an 8-year-old family member for over a year. The case has been tried twice — in 2011 and 2013 — with both ending in a judge granting a mistrial.

In the first trial in 2011, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson declared a mistrial after the jury hung 11-1 in favor of convicting Littlefield. During the second trial in September 2013, the jury found Littlefield guilty of all charges. The sentencing hearing was delayed until last week, during which Superior Court Judge John Feeney declared a mistrial for jury misconduct after a juror indicated in a declaration that the defense did not prove that Littlefield was not guilty, according to District Attorney Paul Gallegos. As the burden of proof is the responsibility of the prosecution and not the defense, Gallegos said Feeney believed there was misconduct on the part of the juror and the mistrial was granted.

"I don't believe the evidence supports that conclusion," Gallegos said. "The juror told the judge, 'I had mispoken,' and knew the burden of proof was on us. The court chose not to believe the juror."

Gallegos said his office will be appealing the decision to the state Attorney General's Office.

If convicted, Littlefield could face up to eight life sentences. A trial confirmation hearing is set for June 9 at 2 p.m. with the trial beginning on June 30 at 8:30 a.m.