May 30, 2014

"Russo seems very frustrated; Firpo defeating him at every turn"; general consensus among media covering case

The quote in the title is not mine but I agree. Those of us covering the case sometimes help each other out by comparing notes at the end of the day. Outside the courthouse, away from public, almost every day we have one general consensus that the defense, in general, during cross has failed, so far, to make a case for their theory.

We have some varying opinions on minor details but we agree Ms. Firpo is successful in redirect in getting witnesses to clarify and answer questions raised during cross. The defense has raised some points but Mr. Russo's frustration is clear and most evident during Rhett August's testimony and also Detective Peter Cress's testimony.

Witnesses correcting defense attorney on facts often is not a good sign. Asking questions with no purpose where objections by Ms. Firpo are sustained. If those of us in the audience are getting tired of a lengthy cross with questions being asked that have been addressed, that do not shed any additional light, what must the jury be feeling and thinking?

In my experience, in Humboldt County, a pound of marijuana would not get prosecuted in this era

Detective Cress explaining one of the reasons why he did not confiscate the marijuana in Rhett August's apartment. He also said when he saw the marijuana in the one, clear plastic bag, he was doing the initial sweep to secure the apartment for safety.

Today is the first day since opening that Christina's mom has been in the audience. The numbers of members of the public that attend has dropped off steadily. There has been one friend of Christina's that has been here every day.

Cress finally finished testimony. Mr. Russo was unsuccessful in discrediting Detective Cress' testimony.

In her re-direct, Ms. Firpo asked Detective Cress about the difference between a narrative and a report. Mr. Russo, the previous day had brought up the fact that not everything was in Detective Cress' report.

Detective showed his report on the case which was a binder "about 3 inches thick" and then he should his narrative which was a 1/4 inch. Detective Cress said that his narrative was a summary and responded with a "No" when Ms. Firpo asked, "Do you include everything in your narrative?"

Then questions were asked by Ms. Firpo and Detective Cress explained why the Melvin Matthews lead "dissipated." Detective Cress said that while a witness had seen someone, no one had specifically seen Melvin Matthews do the shooting. Detective Cress said he interviewed witnesses to substantiate Melvin Matthew's alibi. He mentioned the Christie Motel and gave other local addresses where he spoke to several people, some he was familiar with already as law enforcement interacts with them frequently. Detective Cress said that he could substantiate Melvin Matthews had been at those locations but not specific times.

Ms. Firpo showed photos of Melvin Matthew's face and hands. Detective Cress pointed out that there was no evidence of a physical altercation. This referred back to a fight Steve Upton had mentioned to the Detective that allegedly happened between Upton and Matthews. Detective Cress added that when he interviewed Sean Butler-Smith, he evaluated him in "sepcial way"  to determine his credibility  and that he was coherent and articulate and based on his interview with Smith, "Mr. Tree was a suspect" and again reiterated that in his investigation other leads had dissipated.

Detective Cress also explained that while it is ideal to record the entire statement while interviewing a witness, that parts of his interviews with Upton and John Buhne were not recorded because they were more forthcoming with names and details when they were not being recorded.

May 29, 2014

Ferrer defendants held to answer on all charges

Arraignment for jury trial on June 10 at 2 p.m. in Ctrm 4. Judge Christopher Wilson said counsel had good arguments and while he saw evidentiary issues and potential problems with jury instructions, he said Juan Ferrer's actions did meet implied malice and that  use of a knife in a physical altercation was similar to bringing a gun to a knife fight.

He said Sophie Rocheleau and Nicholas Stoiber continuing to attack a disabled opponent made him decide to hold them to answer to charges filed. He said he did think a lot about these two defendants before making a final decision.

Cress cross by Russo concludes in Bodhi Tree, Firpo still doing redirect

Cress will be testifying tomorrow since Ms. Firpo still needs to finish redirect. Since I am at the Ferrer preliminary hearing and so is TS and Channel 3, Paul Mann who is covering the Bodhi Tree trial for Mad River Union filled us in on the basics.

We have our little group that sits together, helps each other out when needed. In addition to the Bodhi Tree and Ferrer cases, there are other cases also of interest that will be going to trial soon.

Reavis and Okin get Sligh to admit testimony left out during prosecution cross in Ferrer case

Preliminary still going on. The APD should be called the "I dont recall" bureau. Especially when they are confronted with additional facts on cross.

 Parts of testimony that were left out when Sgt Ron Sligh was questioned by Ms. Neel are brought out by Mr. Reavis and Mr. Okin.

Jordet called the three defendants faggots and homeless and initiated verbal confrontation.

When Ms. Neel was questioning Sgt Ron Sligh, he said that Rocheleau was nervous when video surveilance was mentioned, initially indicated a different route home . According to Sligh, Stoiber gave the most honest answer of what occurred and that Ferrer denied all responsibility and was a hostile witness.

Possibility of other assailants and more heroin connections raised in Ferrer prelim day 2

On cross, Mr. Okin reminded Detective Dockweiler of a conversation Deputy Horton relayed to him in which Horton said he spoke with the Jordet family, and he learned from Daniel Jordet that the reason Douglas Anderson-Jordet moved to Arcata was because of several heroin deals gone bad.

Mr. Okin brought up the several layers of clothing Jordet was wearing that would have to be cut to get to the stab wound, the angle of the knife that was difficult to determine at the autopsy. He brought up the fact that Jordet was a chef at Abruzzi's and asked if the detective knew whether he was left or right handed.

Ms. Dixon on cross mentioned several knives were found but none was determined to be the weapon and none of those associated with her client.

Mr. Reavis brought up 3 areas of blood, one near 11th street which was mentioned for the first time and the fact that Jordet crossed over to where the three defendants and that when he was staggering on the video, it could be because he had been injured, not drunk and this could have happened before he encountered the three defendants.

May 28, 2014

Brief Bodhi Tree update from today

Ms. Firpo finished her questioning of Detective Peter Cress today, according to other media that was present at the Bodhi Tree trial.

Mr. Russo's cross was "all over the place", the same media told me. He seemed very confused and was wrong about dates and people.

Smith and Wesson pistol, stolen Honda, weed and meth in POP bust

On 05/27/14 at about 3:15 p.m. detectives from the Eureka Police Department Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP) served a search warrant at a residence near the 200 block of Higgins St.  The search warrant was related to an ongoing investigation relating to narcotic sales.

During the warrant service, officers recovered a stolen Smith and Wesson 500 pistol reported out of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and a stolen Honda 70 motorcycle reported out of the Eureka Police Department.  Approximately two pounds of marijuana and a usable amount of methamphetamine were also were located in the residence.

Fidel Contreras, 29 of Eureka was contacted at the residence and arrested for possession of stolen property, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm, and probation violation.

Gunshots heard near Weitchpec elementary school, threats made to adult victim, armed suspect on the loose

On 05-27-2014 at about 3:15 pm the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Yurok Tribal Police Department and the California Highway Patrol responded to several gun shots being heard near the Jack Norton Elementary School off McKinnon Hill Road, Weitchpec. The Elementary school went into lockdown as a safety measure for their students. No students were injured by the gun fire near the school.

While on scene officers learned that a suspect, who was identified as George Richard Robbins III was the person responsible for discharging a rifle in the air near the school.  Officers at this time were unable to determine if Robbins was shooting at the school.

Officers located an adult male victim, who lives approximately 200 yards away from the Elementary school, who said that Robbins came onto his property holding a rifle and a handgun. The victim told the officers that Robbins fired a gun at his dogs. The dogs were not injured. The victim said that the suspect then pointed the rifle at him and said, I’m going to kill you. The victim said he turned around and walked away from the suspect.

Robbins was last seen on foot leaving the victim’s property. At this time Law Enforcement does not know why Robbins was firing him weapon at the victim’s dogs or why he pointed his rifle at the victim. Officers checked the area but were unable to locate Robbins.

Robbins is described as a male, 47 year old, Native American, 5’-6” in height, 185 pounds, brown hair with hazel eyes. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert to other law enforcement agencies to arrest Robbins for discharging a firearm in a negligent manner, terrorist threats and assault with a deadly weapon.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office considers Robbins armed and dangerous and are advising the public to contact law enforcement immediately if they see Robbins or know of his location.

Two voices "Fuck you and your fat girlfriend" and "I am still following you"

Sarah Brody, a witness in Ferrer case describes what she heard when she was awakened by loud male voices that appeared to be in an argument. She heard two males voices. One saying, "Fuck you and your fat girlfriend," and one saying "I am still following you"

ADA Kelly Neel was representing the People today at the preliminary hearing which did not start until 2:30 p.m. today once Judge Christopher Wilson returned from court. Marek Reavis is representing Juan Joseph Ferrer, Benjamin Okin is the attorney for Sophie Buttercup Rocheleau  and Jennifer Dixon is the attorney for Nicholas Benjamin Stoiber. were present.

Stoiber and Rocheleau sat quietly next to their attorneys but Ferrer would whisper to Mr. Reavis during the detectives testimony, at one point becoming animated.

Ms. Neel's first witness was Arcata Police Department's Sergeant Todd Dockweiler. Sgt. Dockweiler's testimony was about how he arrived on the scene, how they found witnesses,  how they canvassed the area and description of Mr. Anderson-Jordet's initial injuries.

Mr. Reavis, started his  cross about a half an hour before the end of the day.

Through his cross, Mr. Reavis was able to raise doubts about cuts on Mr. Anderson-Jordet and if some had occurred when law enforcement tore his t shirt to attach medical apparatus. Mr. Reavis also got Detective Dockweiler to admit that several witnesses described Anderson-Jordet's  problems with alcohol; that the house manager was not going to renew his lease because of his beligerent interaction with other residents in the Crew house where he lived; that  his ex girlfriend did not want to be around "drunk Doug"; and that a few days ago he had spoken to a co-worker about purchasing black tar heroin and the fact that an incident happened earlier that made one of Anderson's Jordet's acquaintances uncomfortable. It had to do with this acquaintance and Anderson-Jordet being mistaken for being a gay couple by an unknown starnger.

Tomorrow, Mr. Okin and Ms. Dixon will start with their cross of Detective. The hearing will start at 9. a. and end at lunch and then resume at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Judge Wilson started the hearing by reading the charges against the three defendants.

Detective Dockweiler said he was called about a "possible homicide" around 1:30 a.m. on November 25, 2013. He met with Detective Ortega and evidence technician Lea Christian and assignments were given after a briefing. The crime scene was the intersection of "H street between 11th and 12th," said Detective Dockweiler. He said he did not recall when he arrived at the scene.

That refrain is something we heard over and over again when asked about certain details and he also had to refer several times to his report to "refresh his recollection."

When he got there, the area had already been cordoned off with tape and "the victim was no longer there, " he said. "There was some medical waste." Medical and fire personnel had left but patrol officers who first responded were still on the scene. He said the street lights and police vehicle lights provide "good illumination."

"Some blood droplets and a shoe and a pair of eyeglasses" were at the crime scene. There were two locations of the blood droplets. Detective Dockweiler said that the watch commander told him the body had been lying in the eastbound lane of H street with the victim on his back.

Dockweiler assisted the evidence technician in collecting and measuring evidence and then went to Mad River Hospital to view the victim's body. "The victim was lying in the emergency room. I observed a puncture wound to the center of the chest. At that time there were no injuries readily visible," said Detective Dockweiler. "At that time I did not notice injuries on the victim's hand. I did observe small amount of blood on one hand." Due to medical apparatus attached to conduct an autopsy, the detective said "it was hard to get a good inspection."

Then he coordinated with the Coroner and evidence techician to preserve evidence and that he did not recall when he "determined the identity of the victim."

Detective Dockweiler said he "examined the victim's cell phone and that there were a lot of text messages to what appeared to be a female." Later he contacted Virginia Jimenez at her residence, which is where Douglas Anderson-Jordet, the victim also lived. Detective Dockweiler said it was known as the Crew house, a boarding house in Arcata.

Jimenez told Detective Dockweiler that she had been formerly "romantically involved" with Anderson-Jordet but now they were just friends. "They both had been drinking and she left because she was concerned an incident might happen."

At some point that night Jimenez checked on Anderson-Jordet because his door was ajar but he was not home. There had been no contact between the two after 10 p.m. Jimenez had texted Anderson-Jordet but had no response from him.

Detective Dockweiler contacted the house manager of the Crew house. She indicated that she had seen Anderson-Jordet at Everett's, which is located at 9th and H, on the Arcata Plaza that night. She had seen Anderson-Jordet with "two men he knew"; Chris Smith and Ron Dale.

Detective Dockweiler talked with both of them and they told him that Anderson-Jordet was not "overly intoxicated or hostile"

The first call to dispatch was from a Matthew Mansur at 1:24 a.m. who said he saw a man passed out and "making noises that he interpreted as snoring" said Detective Dockweiler. Second call was from a Jeff Sellers who was out collecting recyclables and said he saw Anderson-Jordet lying in the roadway and was bleeding.

No one saw anyone fleeing from the scene. They canvassed the area and found an "ear witness", Sarah Brody. She lives on the southwest corner of 12th and H. The detective spoke with her, "a couple of days after the incident. She did not know anybody had been killed. She did know there had been an incident," he said.

"She was awakened, she heard people out on the street," said Detective Dockweiler. "She heard men involved in an argument. One voice that yelled, 'Fuck you and your fat girlfriend' and a voice say "I am still following you."

At the autopsy, the cause of death was a stab wound to the heart. The detective further described the wounds: a small puncture directly above and to the side of the stab wound in the chest, cut between the thumb and forefinger and a laceration on the upper lip, which was later surmised to be "where teeth penetrated lip."

An injury that the detective personally observed was a distortion to the nose.

The detective then described that the police department had obtained video from ReMax Realty and Humboldt Store and on a diagram he had previously drawn of the crime scene and surrounding areas, he indicated the locations.

In one of the videos, he said there were two white males and a a white female walking on one side of the street and Anderson-Jordet walking on the other side, shortly following the three. When pictures were shown, the female was identified as Rocheleau. Ferrer was identified from her facebook page.

Rocheleau was interviewed at her residence and then at the Arcata Police Department. Initially she denied any knowledge of Anderson-Jordet, said she was with Ferrer and Stoiber. When the detectives told her they had video surveilance, she "became uncomfortable and refused to talk further." Later on she contacted them and agreed to speak to them. That led to them contacting Stoiber and Ferrer.

Dockweiler said he was "in and out" and only watched parts of Rocheleau's interview with other detectives. He was not present for Stoiber and Ferrer's interview. No murder weapon was found.

On December 3, Dockweiler spoke with a Elizabeth Stavikygros at the Humboldt Brewery. She said she had seen Anderson-Jordet a week earlier at Everett's. Some man was "aggressive in approaching females" and she told the detective that Anderson-Jordet attempted to defend the women and "there was an altercation."

Mr. Reavis then cross-examined Detective Dockweiler. He asked him about the accuracy of the time-stamps on the video. He asked him about the time when the three defendants and Anderson-Jordet were walking on the video and if there was interaction between them and the Detective responded, "No."

Mr. Reavis raised the issue that when the t-shirt that had been cut off Anderson-Jordet to attach medical devices, did the officer use a knife or shears attempting and the Detective was unable to say what instrument was used to remove the shirt.

Mr. Reavis asked about other text messages on Anderson-Jordet's phone and specifically about texts relating to a conversation between Anderson-Jordet and a co-worker Dillon Davis in which Anderson-Jordet asked Davis about purchasing black tar heroin.

"Did you follow up on that?" Mr. Reavis asked and the detective answered, "No."

Mr. Reavis was able to get the detective to admit that he had been told Anderson-Jordet "drank heavily". On the day before the stabbing, when Jimenez and Anderson-Jordet had lunch at Goodman winery and then according to the detective parted company, that in fact, Jimenez had told him that Anderson-Jordet and she spent time at the Crew house until 8:30 and that Anderson-Jordet had consumed "5 to 6 beers."

Mr. Reavis asked Detective Dockweiler to describe how Anderson-Jordet seemed to be walking on the video, Detective Dockweiler said, "unsteady." Mr. Reavis then reminded Detective Dockweiler that APD Detective Ortega had described it as "staggering."

Mr. Reavis brought up testimony from a bartender at Everett's that Anderson-Jordet had "4 pints and 2 shots" and that the house manager was not going to renew Anderson-Jordet's lease because "he was belligerent when he drank and had altercations with residents." The detective did not challenge or deny these claims by Mr. Reavis.

Mr. Reavis then brought up an acquaintance of Anderson-Jordet's, Vance and said that Vance becamne uncomfortable and left the bar because a man came up to Anderson-Jordet and him and insinuated that they were a gay couple.

Mr. Reavis said that when Brody was awakened by male voices that at first the voices were angry and later she described them as "enraged."

3 year supervised probation for Rhett August, alleged first victim in the Bodhi Tree case

Today in Courtroom 1 this afternoon, Rhett August was in court to be sentenced for one case and to be arraigned for a petition to revoke probation.

August testified last week in the Bodhi Tree jury trial which is going on right now in Courtroom Four. He was in court accompanied by his mother.

Rhett August is the victim in the first shooting that Bodhi Tree is charged with; he has also been in court for another incident which has nothing to do with Bodhi Tree. Please check the blog for previous posts and background on both cases.

Russ Clanton is representing August and Luke Brownfield is prosecuting the case for the People. Judge Feeney said that in addition to the Probation report, an addendum to the Probation report, he received character reference letters provided by August's family.

His tentative decision was to grant three years of supervised probation to August and to reinstate probation for four older cases.

I had to leave for the Ferrer prelim so I will update this post with a few more details and final decision tomorrow.

Cress still testifying: explains how Bodhi Tree connection with Eureka and Arcata happened

Detective Peter Cress is still testifying and this is second day giving testimony in the Bodhi Tree trial, Ms. Firpo is still questioning Peter Cress on direct.

Testimony is about dates, how he got into contact with witnesses, how the case developed, how the connection was made between the Eureka attempted shooting of Rhett August and the Arcata murders of Sunshine and Christina; he is also describing the demeanor of witnesses.

Not a whole lot of new information. His testimony so far is affirming parts of the testimony of Crow and Smith. There are a few names of law enforcement mentioned and Karen August, the mother of Rhett August, who mentioned Bodhi Tree.

Ferrer preliminary scheduled for this morning

It is scheduled this morning depending on courtroom and Judge availability.

Mr. Benjamin Okin, attorney for Sophie Buttercup Rocheleau. Mr. Marek Reavis, attorney for Juan Joseph Ferrer and Ms. Jennifer Dixon, attorney for Nicholas Benjamin Stoiber were present. ADA Kelly Neel represented the People. Stoiber and Rocheleau were present with friends. Ferrer who is in custody was brought into court.

The Ferrer case has been moved to Courtroom 6 with Judge Christopher Wilson. Will start at 2:30 today and continue tomorrow at 8:30.

May 27, 2014

EPD Detective Peter Cress starts off testimony today in Bodhi Tree trial

Currently a civil attorney in Sacramento but on May 15 he was a detective with EPD, this morning Peter Cress was the first witness to testify in the Bodhi Tree trial. He said crime scene had been set, showed on exihibit where. Then he said after talking with officers on the scene, he made a decision to expand crime scene. Two city blocks from Huntoon to Del Norte were secured and blocked off. Sgt. Watson who was at hospital said someone was still in the apartment. Not knowing if it was a suspect or another victim, they checked the apartment.

They eventually had a conversation and hecwas identified by Cress as John Buhne. Testimony is him telling what hapoened since he arrived, how they entered apartment, about how the secure the scene.

Inside after they had checked apartment to make sure it was safe,  he noticed was two clusters of blood, one near kitchen closer to living room area, the other further into kitchen. Said only rings, outline. He while ascending stairs, there was a bullet in plain view on first ster.

Said it was significant once he learned what happened where the bullet was, where the shooting occurred, the location of the bullet was a" through and through" wound.

Cress is describing who they talked to, how they learned what happebed, how evidence was collected.

Today is the first time we learned why Melvin Matthews, another African-American male was a person of interest in this case. The address he lived at was 2122 Spring Street. It is after break and Ms. Firpo is still questioning Cress. At the end of today, Ms. Firpo was still questioning Cress.

In today's testimony, Cress explained why they eliminated Matthews as a suspect and focused on Bodhi Tree.

May 26, 2014

100,000 Bail for convicted felon who injures female victim "accidentally"

On 05/24/2014 at approximately 2:39 PM, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a female who had been shot by an unknown firearm. The incident occurred in the area of Highland Street in Alderpoint. Deputies responded to the scene and located the female who was being treated by medical personnel. Deputies contacted the Reporting Party, Harold Drummond age 42. During the course of the investigation, Drummond admitted to accidentally discharging a handgun which struck the female victim.

The handgun was recovered and Drummond was arrested on an unrelated warrant. Drummond was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on his warrant. The female victim was flown to an out of county hospital for treatment. The identity of the female will be kept confidential due to the ongoing investigation.

On 05/25/2014, charges were filed by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office against Harold Drummond. Drummond is currently being held on the following charges: Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Convicted Felon in Possession of Ammunition, and Negligent Discharge of a Firearm. Drummond’s bail amount is set at $100,000.