Aug 2, 2014

Chet Albin and Natalie Arroyo chatting, Mike Newman and Marian Brady at Arts Alive

Kimberly Bergel not here yet. In between the regular Arts Alive goers, Humboldt Maker's Fair, Natalie Arroyo, Chet Albin, Marian Brady and Mike Newman are at the gazebo at Eureka Arts Alive.

Kimberly showed up a bit ago and stopped by and said hi to Mike. Good to see camarederie and civility.

Human remains found in Petrolia


On 08/01/2014 at approximately 11 PM, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office was contacted by the Petrolia Fire Department who reported that they had discovered human remains on the River bar in the Petrolia area. Deputies responded and confirmed the remains were human. Detectives from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office along with members of the Department of Justice are currently on scene and efforts to recover the body are underway. The age, sex, and identity of the body are unknown at this time along with the cause of death.

Aug 1, 2014

Tree trial to resume at 8:45 on Monday

That's it folks!

Melvin Matthews and investigators on both sides in courtroom for Tree case, still no idea what is going on?

There is a gag order in the case. The courtroom has been closed all morning. Attorneys for both sides have been in the courtroom. Defense investigator Katherine Truitt went in twice, so did DA investigator Tom Cooke.

From the hallway, I observed inmate Melvin Matthews being led in the courtroom briefly and leaving. Matthews is in contempt for refusing to testify and he was one of the leads police originally pursued. Mr. Celli who works with Russ Clanton, who represented Rhett August was in the courtroom talking with defense.

11:13 only a couple of us left in the hallway. We have no idea what is going on?

Jurors led away in Tree case, rest of us waiting to see what's up

will update when we know what is going on.

Bodhi Tree closing delayed; more information at 9:30?

The baliff in the Bodhi Tree case came out at 9:10 said there is a delay. Asked jurors and everyone to return at 9:30 and more information will be available then.

Jul 31, 2014

"I brought you everything, I wanted this to be a fair case" Elan Firpo starts first day of closing arguments in Tree case

DDA Elan Firpo started her opening argument by telling the jury, "We have been very unfair." In an average case, Ms. Firpo said there are about 20 witnesses, this case had 73.

She was also referring to the fact that in addition to the 73 witnesses in the Tree case, the case has gone on for three and a half months; some witnesses, mostly defense were presented out of order.

"This is a huge case," said Ms. Firpo. "Which witness is defense, which is for the prosecution. We had to locate civilians, some people wanted to talk, some did not." She brought up the fact that some people like Steve Upton did not want to testify, even with contempt of court, that they wanted "nothing to do with this case." She did this because even under subpoena, some witnesses who testified said they did not recall certain things they had previously testified to in court or to law enforcement or to investigators.

Ms. Firpo said that on this first day of closing, she wanted to put the witnesses in order, show how the evidence proves that "Bodhi Tree is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She said this morning she would talk about the Eureka case, then the Arcata case, how the two cases tie together, the credibility of witnesses and physical evidence and then stop so that the courtroom can be set up to talk about the expert witnesses and the inmate testimony. Her closing would continue tomorrow morning.

"I hope to put this big puzzle together."

Ms. Firpo went day by day, sequence by sequence, using testimony and witnesses and building her case to show that it is Bodhi Tree who committed these crimes. "We hear consistently from several people that Bodhi Tree is being inappropriate with Taraya. Not just inappropriate, we have specifics."

"Bodhi is an outsider and this is a rough crowd, they were already irritated with Bodhi for being inappropriate. She went on to say "Bodhi is supposed to leave", but he came back three times after being beaten and told to leave. After the last fight at J Street, he yells to Tyrel Brannon that "I got something for you, I will be back."

Charlie Crow and Sean Butler-Smith placed Tree at the Eureka scene. Ms. Firpo pointed out that the minutia mentioned in their testimony added to their credibility. Both people mentioned getting out of the car, a rosebush, Sean picking a rose. Addressing the defense theory that Sean may be an accomplice or knew what Bodhi Tree was upto, she said, "Is a person going to a gunfight going to pick a rose?"

Both of them mentioned stopping at a gas station and both were not familiar with Eureka and gave slightly different answers to where they stopped before going to J street. She said if they had collaborated their stories would have matched exactly. Both said Bodhi gave directions.

Crow heard shots and turned around to see muzzle flashes. Crow and Sean testified that after hearing shots, Bodhi ran back to the car. Crow's testimony is that Bodhi got in the car and said, "Drive motherfucker, drive. I dropped that mother fucker, I dropped him for sure."

Ms. Firpo said that the Eureka crowd was a rougher crowd, Arcata house a more peaceful house where travelers and people "crashed for the night." But there was a pattern of behavior by Bodhi Tree. He was sexually aggressive with Taraya in Eureka. In Arcata, there was also testimony that he was sexually aggressive with women, particularly Emma and several people testified that Tree was vulgar and sexually agressive with Christina, particularly the day leading to the night she was murdered.

"We don't have Christina, she was killed."

Ms. Firpo used the example of Damian Bradley, a witness who had only met Tree once to highlight that Bodhi Tree looked different in court today then when the incident happened. At that time he had black eyes, longer hair and dressed differently.

Ms. Firpo was very effective because she would bring up examples showing patterns of behavior by Tree and interspersing them with possible credibility of witnesses defense may bring up.

The personal statements talking about Rhett, Christina and Sunshine and going back and forth to other witnesses was also very effective.

The night Sunshine and Christina were murdered, Ms. Firpo reminded the jury that "Bodhi was begging people for $5 for cigarettes." He could not get any money so how did he end up going to the gas station later and buying two beers and Juicy Fruit gum. Ms. Firpo also used the video from the gas station and the receipt matching the items found on Bodhi Tree and at the Eye Street house and the testimony of witneses to connect Bodhi Tree.

"We don't know what exactly happened because Ms. Schwarz and Mr. Marcet were killed," said Ms. Firpo. She said the People's position is that  Sunshine, a generous man, probably gave Bodhi the money nd asked him to bring back the change. That possibly Sunshine wanted Tree to leave him and Christina alone.

"So Bodhi has been hitting on Christina all day long, he is not getting anywhere, he sees the woman he has been trying to get with snuggled up to her man. Women have been bossing him around in the house, now he has to be an errand boy" to the man who is with the woman Tree wants to be with and he got beat up two days ago.

The reference to women bossing him around was Ms. Firpo reminding the jury how Bodhi Tree was pissed when Emma Lorenc asked him to remove his stuff from her room. A room she paid rent for in a house that Tree was not a guest but a crasher who just ended up staying a few nights.

Then she told the jury how Tree behaves when he is pissed. Using both the Eureka and Arcata incidents, she said, The way to piss off Bodhi Tree is to have a white woman say no to him, he sneaks up in the dark" and shoots people.

She brought up the fact that Sean had not seen Tree for 2 days, so how did he know about the beers and size of the beers unless Tree told me. She brought up the fact that Tree brags after he shoots people. In addition to the statement Crow made, Ms. Firpo reminded the jury of Sean's statements where he claims Tree told him, "I got two more" and put the gun on the table."

Ms. Firpo then brought up the description of the gun that people testified seeing and seeing Tree with and the fact that the hat Tree was wearing, one very similar ends up in the neighbor's backyard where Tree is supposed to have fled when the police arrived at the Marilyn Street house. The extensive search among shrubbery, streams and difficulty in locating the firearm used in the case.

"Why did Bodhi run and bolt out the door?".

Ms. Firpo brought up the risk people took testifying against Tree. Sean Butler Smith said he was beat up in jail after testifying in this case at the preliminary hearing. Jason Losey and Quention Williams both have families. Even though people in this case have criminal history, Ms. Firpo said they risked being labelled "snitches" so that Tree would not be out on the street. She brought up that Tyrel Brannon gained nothing by testifying. Sean, Jason and Quentin have addiction issues. They risk their safety if they go back to jail which they would if they violated their probation.

"Mr. Tree's is most dangerous of all murders. He is willful, deliberate, he chooses his victims arbitarily," said Ms. Firpo. "While we are hearing testimony in this case, he is bragging how he is going to beat this case."

Ms. Firpo said that the cross examination of the prosecution witnesses was "all about attacking their character, not so much to counter the testimony provided."

She said, "I tried to give you all their criminal history." In direct, she did bring up their background.

"A couple of police officers did a bad job, some witnesses did not contribute anything. I brought you everything I want this to be a fair case.," said Ms. Firpo. "Two people who did nothing to Mr. Tree got murdered."

Help HCSO locate a missing 15 year old runaway

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to locate a high risk missing 15 year old female runaway juvenile named Yaa-Mitch Stormy Friday Erickson. At approximately 8:30 a.m. today, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office received a call from her mother.  She reported that she last saw her daughter at 7:00 p.m. last night, 7-30-2014, at her residence. Sometime during the night, her daughter snuck out of their residence which is located in the 100 block of Old School Road, Orleans and ran away. A note was left behind by her daughter, indicating she may be intending to harm herself, possibly in the Klamath River.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Orleans Volunteer Fire Department Volunteers, a United States Coast Guard Helicopter and family and friends are currently searching the Klamath River and surrounding area looking for Yaa-Mitch Erickson.

Yaa-Mitch Stormy Friday Erickson is described as:  White Female, 15 years old, 5’ 5” tall, 110 lbs, light brown hair with bangs and blonde highlights, brown eyes. Possibly wearing a black T-Shirt with the number “25” on it or a black sun dress with black jeans.

EPD training scenarios tomorrow, not another crime being committed

From EPD's PIO Kesterson:

Just a heads up just in case you receive any calls from your readers.  Tomorrow, August 1st from about 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. there will be training scenarios taking place near Commercial and 4th streets in Eureka.  The scenarios are part of the College of the Redwoods Crime Scene Investigators Course. There will be training signs displayed.

Judge gives instructions; closing arguments commence in Tree case

Judge Reinholtsen took an hour to give jury instructions in the Tree cade this morning that included detailed instructiobs on charges, types of murders, how to consider evidence.

He specifically gave instructions about whether Sean Butler Smith could be considered an accomplice. And that the burden of proof whether Sean Butler Smith was an accomplice was on the defense.

Ms. Firpo will start the closing, followed by Mr. Russo for the defense regarding the Eureka case and Ms. Holmquist for the defense regarding the Arcata case and then Ms. Firpo gets a rebuttal.

Jul 30, 2014

Allison Jackson puts a crimp in secret plea deal

Allison Jackson, who is representing the victim in the Elmy Workman case was never notified that the same plea deal that was rejected by Judge John Feeney was presented again to Judge Dale Reinholtsen. She was not also sure if Judge Reinholtsen had been given the background of the case.

Ms. Jackson sent a letter to Judge Reinholtsen after I contacted her about a change in dates. She had not been notified, niether had the victim.

Although DDA Zach Curtis is assigned this case, who approved the deal between the District Attorney's office and the defendant?

Today, in Courtroom Four, Neal Sanders was present with defendant Elmy Workman who is out of custody. Mr. Curtis for the People; and Ms. Jackson for the victim, Angela Pitts.

Judge Reinholtsen said he had received Ms. Jackson's letter and a letter from Mr. Sanders and while he had reviewed the file, he needed to review it with depth. One of the reasons he mentioned was the three month plus Bodhi Tree trial and that he could not delay evidentiary rulings and reviewing jury instructions because they had already lost two jurors and one alternate and there are other schedules to consider after August 11.

He mentioned two options: one to hear oral arguments from all three attorneys, then rule a week from now or do everything on one date. Both Ms. Jackson and Mr. Sanders said there was no rush and they were willing to wait for the ruling. The next hearing is on August 13 at 2 p.m.

Pasted below is the text of Ms. Jackson's letter:

I am writing on behalf of the Victim, Angela Pitts, regarding the suggested disposition agreed to by the prosecution and defendant (for the second time) which was entered into on June 25, 2014.  There are three main points this letter seeks to address: 1) victim rights and standing regarding the disposition and sentencing of the defendant’s case; 2) the lack of Victim notification regarding the advancement of this case initially set for June 30 but advanced to June 11 and June 25 for a change of plea; and 3) the fact that the plea taken on June 25, 2014, to PC 245(a) and a PC 12022.7 GBI enhancement, conditional for probation was expressly dealt with by Judge Feeney by way of rejection on April 15, 2014, after the matter was fully briefed and argued. Judge Feeney found that, based upon the facts as they related to the crime and to defendant’s culpability, there were no unusual circumstances under Rule 4.413 that would allow the court to grant probation in this matter.  I have an idea why the People didn’t notify me as counsel for the Victim (nor the Victim) about the advancement of the matter from June 30 to June 11 and 25.  I was central to having the earlier plea set aside.  I do not know if you were informed that the defendant had previously pled to the exact same charge and enhancement conditional upon a grant of probation which was rejected on April 15, and that Judge Feeney made his findings on the record based upon briefs, and extensive letters.

1.         Victim Rights and Standing:    

            As you are aware, and as the People should be aware, on November 4, 2008, the voters of the State of California approved Proposition 9, the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law, a measure to provide all victims with rights and due process. Marsy’s

Law significantly expands the rights of victims in California.  Under Marsy’s Law, the California Constitution article I, § 28, section (b) now provides victims with rights in addition to those afforded to victim in 1982, including but not limited to:

•            To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.

•            To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.

•            To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.

•            To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.

•            To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.

•            To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.

•            To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.

•            To be informed of the rights enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (16).

            Proposition 9, Marsy’s Law, expanded the Victim’s Bill of Rights first passed by California voters in June 1982 and now provides victims with standing in any proceeding in which a right of a victim is at issue including, but not limited to, plea bargaining, sentencing, and appellate review.

2.       Lack of Victim Notification of Change of Plea:

            I first appeared on behalf of the victim in this matter on March 12, 2014, which was the date initially set for sentencing.  My client was told by Mr. Gallegos immediately before trial about the plea bargain for probation.  The victim objected to this plea bargain.  She hadn’t even seen the probation report and had no idea she even had a right to see it.  Judge Feeney put the matter over a week and provided me with the PSR to discuss it with the Victim.  On March 17, I provided a sentencing letter to Judge Feeney on behalf of the Victim and then appeared at the next court date, March 20, 2014.

            On March 20, Judge Feeney stated that after review of my letter, PC 12022.7 precluded him from putting the defendant on probation.  After argument by the defendant, Judge Feeney referred the matter to probation for a consideration of Rule 4.413.  On March 27 and April 1, I submitted to the Probation Department additional letters on the issue of the lack of unusual circumstances, as well as for Judge Feeney and for inclusion in the supplemental report regarding Rule 4.413.  On April, 3, 2014, I again appeared on behalf of the Victim.  The Defendant asked for a continuance to address the supplemental report and the issue of unusual circumstances.  Finally, on April 15, 2014, after extensive briefing regarding Defendant’s plea to the PC 245(a) and PC 12022.7, conditional upon receiving probation, Judge Feeney rejected this plea as conditioned.

            Both the People and Defendant knew that Judge Feeney made findings on the record that there were no unusual circumstances when he rejected this plea.  Both the People and Defendant knew that I represented the Victim.  Unfortunately, for some reason Victim Pitts was (again) not notified that the Defendant and the prosecutor were advancing the matter and re-attempting to get the same plea approved only in a different courtroom.  This tactic is untenable.

            When the earlier plea for probation was rejected on April 15, 2014, the matter was set for pretrial on June 30, 2014; Trial Confirmation on July 7, 2014; and Jury Trial was set for July 21, 2014.  For some reason, the People and Defendant advanced this matter to be specially set in your courtroom on June 11, 2014, and set for a change of plea on June 25, 2014.  Neither I nor Victim Pitts were informed of the June 11 advancement date or the June 25 change of plea date.  Nor was I informed about the attempt to get a new judge to approve, without Victim input,  the plea agreement to the same charges, same condition, which were ejected after hearing and briefing by Judge Feeney.  It was not until June 30, 2014, when I was at the courthouse, that I discovered that the pretrial had been vacated, that there had been a change of plea on June 25, and that the accepted plea was to the very same charges, enhancements and conditions which were rejected by this court, after briefing, letters and the Victim’s objections.

            Deputy district attorney, Curtis and defense attorney Sanders were aware that I asserted the Victim’s rights to notification, and both knew the earlier plea had been rejected and the reasons for the rejection.  It is my understanding that this repeat performance of the previously rejected plea bargain was directly ordered by Mr. Gallegos, and not his deputy.  This intentional disregard of the Victim’s rights and the attempt to forum shop in a do over and without the Victim having a say, is deeply troubling and concerning.
3.     Prior Rejection of Same Plea and Same Conditions:
            The Defendant used a knife and inflicted great bodily injury.  The criteria required under 4.413 cannot be met.  This is what Judge Feeney found when he addressed this issue in numerous hearings March 12, March 20, April 3, and April 15, 2014 - the Defendant cannot legally be placed on probation.

            After first appearing on the Victim’s behalf on March 12, 2014, (the original date for Defendant to be sentenced), and after informing Judge Feeney that the Victim, objected to the grant of probation, Judge Feeney put the matter over for one week so that Victim could be provided with a copy of the probation report.   On March 20, Judge Feeney stated that he was going to reject the plea which resulted in the Defendant arguing the matter be sent to probation and for attorney Sanders to provide his own analysis of Rule 4.413.

            When the matter was called again on April 15, 2014, for sentencing, Judge Feeney went through the criteria of Rule 4.413.  While the district attorney may attempt to stipulate to anything, the legislature placed parameters as to when and if a court can make findings of unusual circumstances to place a defendant on probation when that defendant is convicted of a serious and/or violent felony.  The legislature has declared serious and/or violent felonies to be presumptively ineligible for probation.  After extensive briefing on the issue and a supplemental report from probation, Judge Feeney found, based upon the facts related to the case as well as to Defendant’s culpability, there were no unusual circumstances.  Since the court could not make the necessary findings under Rule 4.413, Judge Feeney could not accept the conditional plea, and he rejected the plea for PC245(a) and PC 12022.7 with the condition of probation.  When Judge Feeney rejected the earlier plea to the exact same charge, enhancement and condition, this rejection was based on his analysis of the criteria of Rule 4.413.

           Under the criterion of the facts related to the Crime: Under Subsection (c)(1)(a) the great bodily injury sustained by the victim was not substantially less serious than the circumstances typically present in other cases involving the same probation limitation.  The victim sustained a horseshoe shaped stab when the Defendant tried to “gut” her.   The Defendant lacerated the Victim’s liver in the stabbing.  It took surgeons 5-6 hours to repair the internal damage inflicted by Defendant’s attack.  The victim remained in intensive care and was hospitalized for close to a week.

            Under the criterion of the facts related to Defendant’s Culpability: Judge Feeney reviewed Subsection (c)(2)(a) through (c) and indicated that, given the facts, no unusual circumstances were present under that subsection for the court to grant probation for the presumptively ineligible offense.  Judge Feeney found no great provocation, coercion or duress necessary under (c)(2)(a).   Judge Feeney noted that, while the Defendant may suffer from depression, the crime was not “committed because of a mental condition not amounting to a defense.” (Subsection (c)(2)(b).)  Nor was Defendant youthful or aged,  at the time she committed the offense. (Subsection (c)(2)(c).)
            Based upon the facts related to the crime and to Defendant’s culpability, a plea to Penal Code section 245, along with the enhancement under Section 12022.7,  conditional for probation, was inappropriate on April 15, 2014, and is inappropriate now.

            On behalf of Victim Pitts (and her family), I respectfully request that this court once again and finally reject the plea, enhancement and condition, all of which were previously rejected by Judge Feeney on April 15, 2014.  Why this plea and the issue regarding unusual circumstances are being readdressed without the Victim’s knowledge nor my knowledge which precluded the Victim to objecting, now, in your courtroom, after the matter was advanced without my knowledge and I was kept from appearing to object, is a tremendous waste of judicial resources, a waste of the resources of the probation department, and it is a further victimization of Ms. Pitts by both the defendant and now the People.

Previous posts:

National Night Out, Come meet McGruff the Crime Dog

The Eureka Police Department will be participating in the annual National Night Out event hosted by Target on Tuesday, August 5th, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Target parking lot.

National Night Out is an annual event designed to strengthen our communities by encouraging neighborhoods to engage in stronger relationships with each other and with their local law enforcement partners.

Many other agencies are scheduled to be there.  Check out an EPD patrol car and meet McGruff the Crime Dog.  See you there!

HCSO Press Releases: Burglary, Burglary and Tresspass Grow with Peanut Butter Flavor Rodenticide

Tresspass Grow on USFS property with Peanut Butter Flavor Rodenticide

On 07-28-2014 and 07-29-2014, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office assisted by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (C.A.M.P.), and United States Forest Service (U.S.F.S.) agents responded to U.S.F.S. property on Brush Mountain, Gainor Peak and Oak Knob in eastern Humboldt County after sighting marijuana being cultivated on U.S.F.S. land. The deputies were also accompanied by three scientists, two from Integral Ecology Research Center, one of which is also associated with UC Davis, and a Hoopa Tribal Wildlife Ecologist.

During two days, deputies seized 3,760 marijuana plants ranging in size from 18 inches  to 4 feet. Deputies and scientists located water diversion, mounds of trash and 24 pounds of rodenticides, of which 9 pounds was peanut butter flavored, and 15 pounds was second generation rodenticide. Malathion and fertilizers were also located at the scenes. No suspects were located in the area of the trespass marijuana grows, however deputies have obtained evidence from the scenes which is being processed, and the investigation is ongoing.

The spring fed water sources that were diverted and used to water the marijuana plants, flow into the South Fork of the Trinity River. The springs were part of a network of subterranean water sources.  The scientists reported that impacts from the water diversions and chemicals used on the grows could affect Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Foothill Yellow Legged Frogs and the western Pond Turtle.

The scientists reported the rodenticides could potentially kill Fisher, Northern Spotted Owl, American Black Bear, Black Tailed Deer and Humboldt Marten.

Below are quotes from Dr. Mourad Gabriel- UC Davis Wildlife Ecologist/ Integral Ecology Research Center who was present with the deputies and USFS Agents

"The removal of this massive amount of killing agents within prime spotted owl and fisher habitat is pertinent for the conservation of these species."
" The illegal diversion of this amount of water prohibits the flow of cool water into tributaries that support our salmon populations."
"In light of the current drought and high water temperatures, this represents another blow to our already taxed watersheds."
"These remediation efforts are crucial in protecting our forest ecosystems."

Vehicle Theft

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public to lock their vehicles and do not store valuables in vehicles. Deputies have recently experienced a rise in reported thefts from unlocked vehicles, county wide.  Victims have left wallets, Compact Discs, stereo equipment and banks cards in unlocked vehicles which have been stolen.  Do not leave garage door openers in vehicles. Thieves will use garage door openers to enter victim’s homes.

Hoby's Market burglarized again

Between 6-13-2014 and 07-30-14, Hoby’s Market, Scotia has been burglarized three times. The last two burglaries occurred on 07-28-2014 and 07-30-2014. All the burglaries occurred between 12:00 midnight and 5:30 a.m. The burglars have stolen several boxes of Camel and American Spirits Cigarettes, Backwoods Cigars, cases of rolling papers, men’s magazines and several bottles Grey Goose Vodka, Cuervo Gold Tequila, Fireball Whiskey and candy. The burglar( s) smashed a side window of the business on 6-13-2014, and have re-entered via that same window after pushing in the plywood covering. The total estimated loss is over $3,000.00 at this time.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Fortuna Police have responded to the alarm calls at the business; however the burglar (s) have fled prior to the deputies’ arrival.  The Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying the suspects.

Eureka city officials and county leaders work together to address homelessness

City of Eureka and Humboldt County leaders met with representatives of the
Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC) on July 17 to hear about
Eureka’s draft “Homelessness Policy Paper,” prepared as part of the city’s
General Plan Update process.

The Policy Paper takes an in-depth look at where Eureka currently stands in
terms of homelessness and offers concrete steps the city can take to more
strategically reduce the number of homeless people in the community. The
policy paper is being prepared by the Sacramento consulting firm Focus
Strategies. A final draft of the Policy Paper will be presented to the Eureka
City Council for review and incorporation into the city’s General Plan Update
as a support document.

“Eureka’s leadership and community stakeholders are overwhelmingly
committed to solving the problem of visible homelessness,” said Megan
Kurteff Schatz, principal with Focus Strategies. “The homelessness policy
paper commissioned by the city provides specific, immediate
recommendations to move homeless people to housing and behavioral health
services. The recommendations also provide strategies to identify and tailor
resources to more quickly house people who become homeless. Community
leadership is actively engaged and already moving forward with solutions.”

The draft Policy Paper contains several short-term recommendations for
reducing homelessness, including that a Leadership Group, comprised of city
and county representatives and one of three General Plan Update
homelessness focus groups formed to provide input on the Homelessness
Policy Paper, continue to work on issues related to homelessness. Leadership
Group members currently include Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass,
Eureka City Councilmembers Mike Newman and Melinda Ciarabellini,
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Phillip Crandall,
DHHS Assistant Director of Programs Barbara LaHaie, Eureka City Manager
Greg Sparks, Assistant City Manager Mike Knight, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills, Humboldt Area Foundation Program Manager Amy Jester, Betty Chinn
of the Betty Kwan Chinn Outreach program, Eureka Main Street Executive
Director Charlotte McDonald and Eureka Chamber of Commerce Executive
Director Don Smullin.

The draft policy paper further recommends that in the short-term, the city
and county should work together to identify 10 to 15 people who are
generating the largest number of police and other emergency calls and are
the most frequent users of city and county resources. Once identified, these
people should be prioritized for available permanent supportive housing.
Medium-term recommendations include the city, county and HHHC working
together to formalize a Homeless Outreach Team with a “Housing First”
focus, providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing
services as needed. It is also recommends that the city and county explore
strategies to expand the use of Mental Health Services Act and other funds to
provide housing for homeless people with mental illness who are high users
of emergency services and not being adequately served by existing systems
of care.

Recommendations for the long-term include the city, county and HHHC
forming a working group to analyze the Homeless Management Information
Systems — a database used to gather local information about homelessness
— as well as program budget data, with a goal of understanding how funds
are being invested, what outcomes are being accomplished and how
outcomes could be improved by changing existing programs and
investments. It further recommends that the city continue to build and
strengthen its ongoing partnership with the HHHC and DHHS to ensure
countywide resources are effectively targeted to serve homeless people with
the greatest needs, many of whom live in Eureka.

“DHHS appreciates the collaborative efforts that went into this Policy Paper,”
Crandall said. “The department supports its conclusions and looks forward to
further discussions and, more importantly, implementation of its
recommendations. The actual products will be complex and sustained funding
will be an issue to transcend, but with the mutual support and investments of
the city, the county and our partners in the HHHC, we are hopeful we will
begin to implement well-thought-out strategic and long-lasting integrated
approaches that will address many of the needs of severely mentally ill
homeless people in the city of Eureka.”
Focus Strategies helps communities make data-driven decisions to develop
system solutions that will work for them in their efforts to end homelessness.
To develop its recommendations for Eureka, Focus Strategies staff reviewed
local data related to homelessness, talked to community stakeholders,
service providers and homeless individuals and researched best practices for
comparably sized communities.

Jul 29, 2014

Search warrant served on Summer Street

On 07/29/14 detectives with the Eureka Police Departments Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP) and Criminal Investigations Section (CIS), served a Search Warrant at the 3500 block of Summer Street in Eureka. The Search Warrant was served in response to numerous neighborhood complaints regarding suspected narcotic activity.

One occupant who was on scene at the time of the warrant service was interviewed and released. As a result of the warrant service, detectives located and seized eleven (11) firearms, drug paraphernalia and a small quantity of methamphetamine.

No arrests have been made at this time. This is an ongoing investigation.

Four arrested during POP probation search

On 07/28/14, detectives from the Eureka Police Departments Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP) conducted a probation search at an apartment building in the 1800 block of "A" Street in Eureka. Upon arrival, detectives encountered six adult subjects and one juvenile.

As a result of the search, Timothy Chiemwichitra (28), Joe Olivo (35), Mario Nunez (28) and Vanessa Wilkins (25) were taken into custody and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for various violations.

Chiemwichitra was booked for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Probation Violations. Olivo was booked for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Parole Violations. Nunez was booked for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Heroin and Probation Violations. Wilkins was booked for four outstanding warrants.

Mike Jones tired of local politics; quits Eureka Planning Commission

On July 14, former Eureka City Council member and our very own Uncle Sam Mike Jones, quit his position as Chair of the Eureka City Planning Commission.

Mike told me he is tired of "some aspects of local politics" and this us vs them division in the community.  "This gives me more time to spend with my family and that is the main reason I am not running for any other office."

Scrapper's Edge in Eureka now a USPS Village Post Office

Did you know that you can get copies, buy office supplies, get documents notarized and now Scrapper's Edge located on the corner of 4th and I in Eureka is a USPS Village Post Office.

Grand opening is 2 p.m on August 4. Popular services including P.O. Boxes, Forever stamps, pre paid Priority Mail envelopes and mail collection offered. Scrapper's Edge is open on Saturdays.

Call (707) 445-9686 for more information.

"I saw Bodhi and another inmate bickering"

Expecting the unexpected is par for the course in the Bodhi Tree trial. Today was the day that the last witness in People's case and the last witness in defense's case were called in the Bodhi Tree jury trial.

The morning started with the People calling their last witness in the Bodhi Tree trial. Well, not exactly. Hans Vedborg, the Humboldt County jail nurse was not available, so his testimony that was given previously was read to the jurors by DDA Jessica Watson. Both parties agreed to this; Ms. Firpo read her questions and Mr. Russo read the questions he asked in cross.

The transcript ended up confirming Jason Losey, Tyrel Brannon and Quention Williams' testimony. Times when meds are passed out and if insulin is given, there are additional times explains Losey remembering 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

In his testimony Vedborg stated, "I saw Bodhi and another inmate bickering." Vedborg said that inmate was Panther aka Tyrel Brannon and what he over heard sounded like "putdowns" by Tree directed at Brannon.

Since Vedborg was near Brannon's cell, he could see Tree standing by Williams' cell but could not overhear that conversation. He said the TV volume is controlled so one can hear inmates more and sound does echo.

The defense called Katherine Truitt, a defense investigator, who works for the Public Defender. Ms. Holmquist questioned her about her interviews with Shane Goodrich, Ian Henry and Quentin Williams.

None of her interviews were recorded, there was no verification and her reports were based on her recollection and notes, something Ms. Firpo raised on cross. Ms. Firpo also asked questions about Ms. Truitt's background before working for the Public Defender was as a substance abuse counselor at Probation. Ms. Firpo got Ms. Truitt to admit that she had minimal training in interrogation and that her interview technique was not related to law enforcement training. Ms. Firpo also pointed out that Ms. Truitt's reports are paragraph long narratives yet she does not use shorthand.  Ms. Firpo brought up that William's attorney was not present and that Williams when he testified in court disagreed with Ms. Truitt that he was willing to talk to her and his interpretation of why Truitt was talking to him was different than Ms. Truitt.

Ms. Firpo brought up that Goodrich and Henry wanted to recant their testimony once they saw Ms. Truitt's report which is Ms. Truitt's own testimony and Ms. Truitt said it was because they were afraid of being "snitches" and their safety on the streets.

A point that Ms. Firpo and the prosecution witnesses said over and over again, yet they testified in court and defense's cross of their motives was more aggressive and lengthy. Ms. Firpo asked Ms. Truitt, that these witnesses were not forthcoming to law enforcement when interviewed the same day or couple days after the crime occurred yet they were willing to testify paragraphs to her.

Ms. Firpo got Ms. Truitt to admit that she selects what she includes in her reports and the total conversation is not included. She also brought up civilian witnesses who did not review her reports and that when they testified, they did not recall saying what was included in Truitt's reports.

"There is no penalty if they give you a false statement," said Ms. Firpo. Ms. Truitt responded with, "That is right."

Littlefield retrial set for Oct 20, defense hopes to resolve before then

The Timothy Littlefield case was heard in Courtroom 2 today with Judge Marilyn Miles presiding.

This is the third time this case is being tried. The jury verdict of the second trial resulted in a mistrial being declared by Judge John Feeney. That decision under appeal. DDA Jackie Pizzo appeared instead of Paul Gallegos.

Littlefield's attorney Russ Clanton said that he has put forth several proposals to Mr. Gallegos and is hoping to resolve the matter before this third jury trial. Estimated to take 6 to 8 weeks, the trial confirmation is set for September 23 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2 and Jury Trial for October 20 at 8:30 a.m.

There are several posts on this blog you can find under search to follow the history of the case and charges, I have provided some links.

After the second trial, Littlefield was due to be sentenced by Judge John Feeney for eight life sentences in state prison without the possibility of parole from a jury finding him guilty on 11 child molestation charges.

Closing arguments in Tree start Thursday

Court in the Bodhi Tree trial will resume on July 30 at 8:45 a.m. in Courtroom Four and the closing arguments are expected to last two or  three days.

Defense rests; evidence in Tree case complete

One alternate juror was released and at the end of today's court session, the defense also rested their case in the Bodhi Tree trial.

People rest in Tree case; defense calls last witness

People's last witness was testimony of the jail nurse that confirmed  Brannon and Losey's accounts. Defense's last witness was a defense investigator and on cross using specific examples, Ms. Firpo pointed out investigator's report was skewed to defense; the investigator admiited no verification if her notes and that her job is to "fill in gaps of defense."

Jul 28, 2014

"When someone is killed, it has nothing to do with me getting out early"

Quentin Williams, who Bodhi Tree allegedly confessed to about shooting Rhett August, Christina Schwarz and Alan Marcet finished his testimony today. He was cross examined Friday, Ms. Holmquist continued her cross today and Ms. Firpo questioned him on redirect.

The defense did it's usual startegy, bringing up superflous information, trying to viscerate the character of prosecution witnesses, just because they have a past criminal history. When they fail, they keep bringing up the past, where the charges have been dismissed.

Who is winning so far? Definitely not the August, Schwarz and Marcet families or the inmates and prosecution witnesses who risk their safety by testifying against Tree.

There were few highlights today that did out the intent and desperation of the defense.

Even after Williams had explained over and over again, that his case had a plea deal being considered, which happens so often in court daily, it is not out of the ordinary, Ms. Holmquist persisted and harped on the fact that he was getting out earlier than intended.

"When someone is killed, it has nothing to do with me getting out early," said Williams.

Just as they have with other prosecution witnesses, the defense brought up testimony and dates of conversations and cases that have nothing to do with Tree's case. Despite the fact that it has been testified over and over, that the maximum security housing unit and no natural light, that sense of time is hard to determine; Ms. Holmquist kept going back and forth about cases, conversations with vague questions. At one point Ms. Firpo objected to the vagueness and Judge Reinholtsen sustained the objection.

Ms. Holmquist did not trip Williams and he stayed polite despite badgering by Ms. Holmquist. At one point he said, "You have records, I don't.' That psychological strategy of holding up conversations and firing questions trying to intimidate the witness is standard by defense in this case.

To me, it smacks of desperation because the defense has not been able to put create reasonable doubt or refute the prosecution evidence, which despite no firearm, the motive and opportunity points to one person: Bodhi Tree.

Williams explained why people in and out of custody come to him with information. Ms. Holmquist tried to paint him as a snitch wanting personal benefit. Both on cross and redirect, Williams came across as someone whose tips to the Sheriff's office and DA's office have led to discovery of a body and arrest of three suspects in one case; another case in which Williams wore a wire and was supposed to catch an inmate who raped his wife confessing he was planning to plot to have someone kill her.

Williams said he was going to testify whether he had an immunity agreement or any plea deal in his case because "what he (Tree) did was hideous." Williams said Tree killed a 'child", referring to Christina.

He got Ms. Holmquist to admit she was reading "bits and parts" of his testimony from a transcript. Her excuse: she was trying to "wrap things up."

Ms. Firpo showed the jury the actual agreement which was not as Ms. Holmquist represented. Ms. Firpo also brought up that Williams had previously provided information for the DA, he did not have to testify, he did not get a deal.

Williams said the fact that Tree showed "no remorse" was a factor in him testifying and changing his opinion about Tree. "I wanted to help the family." Williams said having the families hear that Tree admitted to the shootings "would help give them closure."

Williams had wanted to get out early so he could get his son and son's mother to safety. He wanted protection for them from the DA's office for them but did not get it.

A day full of HCSO press releases

Marijuana Eradication on Yurok Tribal Land   

 From 07-21-2014 to 07-24-2014, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs, California Department of Justice, California Fish and Wildlife Service, Marin County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, Yurok Police Department and Eureka Police Department in eradicating marijuana grows on Yurok Tribal Land and adjacent properties.  The 35 officers served twenty Humboldt County Superior Court Search Warrants and nine Tribal Court search warrants during the four days. A total of 12,898 marijuana plants, over 300 pounds of processed marijuana and seven firearms were seized. Officers located extensive environmental damage at several search warrant locations, along with California Fish and Wildlife violations.  No arrests were made, however several suspects have been identified and arrest warrants will be requested.

Gunshot victims
On 07-26-2014, at approximately 12:30 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Gerald Phelps Community Hospital regarding a gunshot victim being treated in the emergency room. When the investigating deputy arrived he met with the 21 year old male victim, who was from Bremen, Georgia. The victim told the deputy he came to Humboldt County to visit with a friend , Robert , who is also from Georgia. The victim had been in Humboldt County about three weeks and was camping in the hills outside of Garberville.

The victim told the deputy he was with his friend, two other adult males and an adult female at a campsite on 07-25-2014.  About dusk the two unknown adult males began to argue. The victim stepped in between to two males to break up the fight, and the victim heard a gunshot. The victim ran off into the woods and then noticed he was bleeding from his foot.  The victim walked through the forest for hours before being picked up by four unknown people in a white Toyota truck, who gave him a ride to the hospital. The victim told the deputy he had no idea who shot him, he did not know where the campsite was at and did not see any weapons.

The case is currently under investigation, the victim will recover from his injury. Deputies are currently attempting to locate Robert.

Drug Arrest

On 07-25-2014, at approximately 9:30 p.m. a Deputy assigned to the City of Blue Lake, stopped a 1992 Red Chevy Pickup truck for speeding on Greenwood Road, Blue Lake. The truck yielded to the deputy at Blue Lake Casino Play Station. When the deputy contacted the driver, he identified himself as John Walter Wilson, 56 years old from McKinleyville. Wilson told the deputy he was on active State Parole. The passenger in the vehicle was identified as Michael Paul Gulley, 54 years old, also from McKinleyville.  The deputy learned from Sheriff’s Office dispatch that Gulley was on probation with a search clause.

 A California Highway Patrol Officer arrived and assisted the deputy with searching Wilson and Gulley. The deputy located approximately 9 grams of suspected methamphetamine and less than an ounce of marijuana in Wilson’s possession. The deputy also located a red cylindrical item that was two inches in diameter and six inches long with an approximate three inch long fuse behind the drivers seat. The deputy contacted a Sheriff’s Office Bomb technician and learned the item was a Firequick Flare. The flares are used by the fire service to start backfires and the sales of the flares are restricted to fire agencies. The flares shoot out sparks.

The deputy located drug paraphernalia consisting of glass smoking pipes in Gulley’s possession. Wilson and Gulley were arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where they were booked. 

Wilson was booked on charges of possession of illicit drugs, possession of fireworks without a permit and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. He is being held without bail. Gulley was booked on charges of violation of probation and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $5,000.00.

Heroin and illegal fireworks

On 07-26-2014, at approximately 9:51 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received multiple (at least 17) 911 calls regarding loud explosions coming from the area of Nancy Court, Eureka. The explosions were loud enough that the Sheriff’s Dispatch Center in Eureka, approximately three miles away heard the explosions.

When deputies and Humboldt Bay Fire personnel arrived in the area they began speaking with witnesses who directed them to a residence located at 854 Nancy Court, Eureka. When the deputies were approaching the home, a 22 year old male, later identified as Matthew Robert Williams, from Eureka exited the residence. They detained Williams and told them what they were investigating. A second male exited the residence and was identified as Bijan Taherikermani, 53 years old.  As deputies spoke with Taherikermani they saw he had a plastic bag protruding from his pocket. The bag was removed from Taherikermani’s pocket, and deputies saw it contained heroin. It was later weighed and was approximately three grams.

The deputies located three metal mortar tubes in front of the residence. Two of the tubes were still standing upright in the grassy area, near the driveway. When the deputies questioned Williams and Taherikermani, they admitted to shooting off three, four and five inch mortars in front of the home. 

Deputies learned Matthew Williams was on formal and summary probation, with a search clause. Deputies searched a 2002 Ford Sport utility vehicle that Matthew had the key for in his hand when the deputies arrived. In the sport utility vehicle, deputies located several bags with heroin in them, with a total weight of approximately 100 grams, and a live .40 caliber bullet.

Williams was arrested for violation of probation, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of illegal fireworks and possession of live ammunition by a prohibited person.  He was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and booked. Williams bail was set at $50,000.00.

Taherikermani was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and possession of illegal fireworks. He was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional facility and booked; his bail was set at $25,000.00

The never ending jury trial; Tree case to definitely go into next week

Today, Judge Reinholtsen asked the jurors to let him know their preferred schedule. The case will definitely continue into next week, there may be some dark days, some schedule changes. Court will reconvene at 8:45 tomorrow.

While jury instructions may only take an hour, Judge Reinholtsen said that closing arguments could take two or three days.

Mad River Union's has sent someone  every day, and I have been there every day. At the rate this case is proceeding, Paul Mann and I may need to start taking shifts!

Bodhi Tree will definitely get the best dressed defendant award. After a haircut and snazzy duds and shoes, he just recently, has added a nice black shirt and pants to his 3 outfit collection. If it is taxpayer money paying for this, a good defense is one thing, paying for him to look stylish another.

After 17 and half years, Jonathan McCrone retires from the Public Defender's office

All the best Jonathan! Enjoy that garden, the summer sunshine. Local criminal defense attorney Christina Allbright said, "Jonathan is amazing, dedicated to his clients. He has gone above and beyond, always picking up slack, amidst great personal turmoil."

"I hope they throw a party for him," she said. Ms. Allbright said that someone else with all the challenges would have quit but Jonathan persevered.

Humboldt Bay Working Group invites public to a no host lunch at Samoa Cookhouse to talk about harbor possibilities

This is from the flyer sent by out by Charlie Bean:

Come learn about our harbor and how together we can bring new life and prosperity
to our county.We can create an economically and environmentally vibrant green port. Be part of
this grand enterprise! "Revitalizing the Harbor" Guest Speaker:Larry Henderson,Planning Consultant

Larry will share a proposed plan outline for revitalizing the harbor.

No-Host Luncheon, Wednesday, July 30, 2014
at Samoa Cookhouse

RSVP by emailing or calling (707) 441-1974.

Jul 27, 2014

Man on probation violation taken into custody on suspicion of five downtown fires

Humboldt Bay Firefighters and Eureka Police Officers were called to extinguish 
and investigate a string of five dumpster fires between the hours of 11:15 PM 
and 5:00 AM Sunday morning. Dumpster fires were extinguished adjacent to 
businesses at 14th and Broadway, 7th and K Street, 2nd and H Street, 3rd and H 
Street, and 4th and E Streets. All fires were confined to the dumpsters with no 
damage to nearby buildings.

During fire suppression EPD units assisted by checking alleyways in an attempt 
to locate a suspect or additional fires. While searching in the vicinity of 
businesses at 4th and E Streets, a 70 year old male, Mr. Ray Mason Keene was 
interviewed and eventually taken into custody by EPD officers for probation 
violations. Mr. Keene is on summary probation for previous arson-related 
charges. As of this press release no arson-related charges have been filed for 
last night’s fires and the investigation is ongoing. 

In the past two months firefighters and police officers have responded to 
numerous similar fires in downtown Eureka. Dumpster and refuse fires pose a 
significant threat of fire extension to adjacent buildings, vehicles, or other 
property. Business owners can reduce this hazard by closing and locking their 
dumpsters after business hours, and ensuring the area surrounding their 
buildings remains reasonably clear of trash and other debris.