Aug 8, 2014

For Rhett, Christina and Sunshine. Thank you Tree jury

Incredible group of dedicated jurors. Thank you.

For Tina, Nancy and Karen. God bless you for your amazing children. Justice was served!

Guilty 2nd degree murder Arcata and attempted murder in Eureka in Bodhi Tree case

Bodhi Tree threw a temper tantrum in court as he was cuffed to be taken back into custody. "This is bullshit. Saying I did something I didn't."

 This is after the jury walked out but in an open courtroom in front of everyone else. This was similar to the outburst by Bodhi Tree that three inmates testified to in court. Ms. Holmquist had to get him calm but it took a minute.

This was an unanimous verdict. The judge thanked the jury. Sentencing will occur later. Tree can ask for a new trial. The defense investigator Ms. Truitt made a beeline for the jurors  right after the verdict had been read.

Tree yelled in court he wanted to appeal the decision.

Only Times Standard and myself were in the courtroom. Paul Mann from the Mad River Union arrived as the jury was exiting the building.


Gotta to know what ward you live in when you file to run for office

A challenger who took out papers and wanted to run for Ward 1 may not live in that Ward and may end up running in Ward 3. This or some other issues with paperwork were overheard at City Hall.

Deputy City Clerk is at the County office and will be issuing shortly who is running for City Council and if anyone is running for Mayor. As of 2 p.m. Marian Brady and Frank Jager did not have challengers.

Facts and actual names available shortly.

Meth found on Cheng was in his pocket

that's the update

Felon in possession of firearm in Eureka, Shocking!


On 08/08/14 at about 8:39 a.m., while attempting to locate a felony warrant suspect, officers observed a suspicious male and female near the 700 block of West Everding Street.  Officers attempted to contact the male, later identified as Pia Cheng (29) of Eureka.  Cheng fled on foot and was observed by officers throwing a firearm into a yard near the 3100 block of Prospect Street.  

Officers followed Cheng around the block and apprehend him without further incident near the 700 block of West Everding Street.  Officers located the firearm (AMT .380) and a loaded magazine and cellphone discarded nearby.   The female was no longer on scene and her identity is unknown at this time.

Cheng was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm while committing a felony, possession of meth for sale, felon in possession of a concealed weapon, and felon in possession of ammunition.


Aug 7, 2014

DA elect reaching out to some DDAs?

DA elect Maggie Fleming was seen in the Courthouse Cafe eating lunch with DDA Jessica Watson. This afternoon, right at lunchtime at another cafe near the Courthouse, both Ms. Fleming and DDA Brienne Bennett walked out.

Is Ms. Fleming reaching out to just the very new DDAs? Or is this a sign of the transition of Ms. Fleming preparing for January 2015.

The fact that she is reaching out to some DDAs was mentioned by another source. This is a source outside the Courthouse and not someone with a legal career but has insight into what goes on at the DA's office.

Charred vehicle found off Main Street ramp in Fortuna

On 08-06-2014, at approximately 7:00 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified of vehicle arson at the U.S. 101 and Main Street, Fortuna off ramp.

When the deputy arrived she met California Highway Patrol Officers who were already on scene. The deputy saw a white 1989 VW Golf with Oregon license plates on the southwest side of the road that was completely charred.

The deputy learned the vehicle had been reported stolen on 08-01-2014 to Fortuna Police department, and was recovered by Fortuna Police on 08-04-2014 at the location the vehicle was burned. At the time Fortuna Police located the vehicle, the tires had been removed along with other items. The owner of the vehicle was notified by Fortuna Police about the vehicle’s location and agreed to make arrangements to have it towed.  Before the owner could have the vehicle removed, someone lit the vehicle on fire.

Argument about garbage leads to assault in Loleta

On 08-06-2014, at approximately 6:00 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a large fight involving several male and female adults, some armed with sticks, occurring at Crab Park, Loleta. At least one of the involved combatants was bleeding from a head wound and was unresponsive. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies and medical personnel responded to the scene.

When the first deputy arrived, she saw a 60 year old male bleeding from a head wound. The  60 year old male told the deputy the other combatants had fled in a vehicle and were enroute to a local hospital for treatment for a head wound.

The deputy spoke with witnesses, and learned the 60 year old male got into an argument with a 22 year old male about garbage on the ground near the 22 year old males vehicle. Words were exchanged and a fight broke out. During the fight, the 60 year old male threw the 22 year old male to the ground, causing a head wound to the 22 year old male. The 60 year old male was attacked by two adult females who were passengers in the 22 year old males’ vehicle. One of female passengers struck the 60 year old male numerous times in the head with a stick, causing head injuries to the 60 year old male.

After arriving at the local hospital, the 22 year old male was flown to an out of the area hospital due to the nature of his head trauma. The 60 year old male was transported to a local hospital and was treated and released for his head injuries. Alcoholic beverages were consumed by at least some of the combatants. The investigation into who was the primary aggressor is still ongoing, and the case will ultimately be submitted to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for their review. There have no arrests at this time.

Another structure fire at 2186 Tydd Street, no one lived at residence so no injuries

At approximately 0222 hours, units from Humboldt Bay Fire (HBF) were dispatched to a structure fire at 2186 Tydd St.  HBF responded with a standard first alarm assignment of three fire engines, one ladder truck, and two Chief Officers.  While enroute, the first due engine company reported smoke showing upon leaving their station.

The first arriving engine company reported a single story wood frame residential structure with heavy fire and smoke showing, with the majority of the fire to the back side of the house.  Crews mounted an aggressive attack on the fire while also searching the residence for possible occupants, and ventilating the structure to release smoke and hot gasses.

Crews were able to extinguish the fire within 45 minutes of arrival. The property owner arrived on scene and advised that no one lived in the residence.

Preliminary estimates show damage of about $50,000.  There were no injuries.

The fire cause is under investigation, but undetermined at this time.  Given that the structure was vacant, the fire is suspicious in nature.

CBS vs Coastal Commission lawsuit case has another case management conference scheduled

Yesterday there was a case management conference in Courtroom 8 with Judge Bruce Watson. Another case management conference scheduled for November 5.

Aug 6, 2014

Check out the Humboldt County Grand Jury report yourself


 On August 6, the 2013-2014 Humboldt County Grand Jury released its Final Report.  This report is the culmination of the Grand Jury’s investigative work.  The report includes eleven investigative reports and three shorter matters of interest. Included in this compiled report are the following individual reports:

·         Humboldt County Roads

·         Getting County Code Compliance Complaints On Track

·         Complaint Against The City Of Fortuna, City Manager – Response Included

·         The Humboldt Tourism Business Improvement District

·         How Do We Deal With Children in Crisis?

·         Are We Ready For Disaster on The North Coast?

·         Humboldt County Charter Schools

·         Humboldt County Jails Sites Visit Report

·         Late Night/Early Morning Release

·         Saving the Architectural Jewels of Time – A complaint against the City of Arcata Department of Community Development

·         Humboldt County Homeless Veterans

·         Additional Matters of Interest

§  Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) Conflict of Interest Complaint

§  Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board of Trustees Brown Act Violation Complaint

§  Local Effects of Prison Realignment in Humboldt County


A complete copy of the report, or its individual elements, is/are available online at the Grand Jury's website: www.co.humboldt.ca.us/grandjury .

Only one alternate juror was left in Tree case and one just left courtroom in tears

This is while attorneys and the Judge were inside Courtroom 4 after a note was handed to Judge earlier as the regular court calendar was being called. I have no way of knowing if this juror was excused but that person left the building.

This is just my guess based on observation standing outside in the hallway. Attorneys just left. Few minutes later, the rest of the jury walked out.

Defense for Jason Warren asks for continuance, will file motion to continue trial

Mr. Kevin Robinson, from the Public Defender's Office who is representing Jason Warren told District Attorney Paul Gallegos in court right before the case was called that they will not be ready to confirm the jury trial in October.

Hank Seeman, husband of one of the victims in the case expressed disappointment to Mr. Gallegos outside the courtroom because the trial has been continued twice. He is meeting privately with Mr. Gallegos now.

Mr. Gallegos already brought this point up in court to the Judge who granted the request after discussing privately with attorneys.

Judge Reinholtsen told the attorneys he is going to be assigned to the civil calendar starting January and this case will most likely go to Judge John Feeney and that he would have to discuss this with Judge Feeney and should know in two weeks.


Standing in the hallway for other cases, courtroom 4 has been closed three times for Tree case

While waiting for Silverio Sanchez case this morning and Warren case this afternoon, courtroom 4 has been closed three times for the Tree case. This happens if the jury communicates with the Judge.

Right now prosecutors, attorneys and Mr. Tree are in Courtroom.

91 pounds marijuana bud, MJ plants, 42 pounds dried, shotgun two arrests by Redway Elementary School

On 08-05-2014, at approximately 9:00 a.m.,  Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office deputies served a Humboldt County Superior Court search warrant in the 100 block of Briceland Road, Redway. The search warrant was obtained after receiving neighborhood complaints regarding traffic in and out of the residence, and the growing marijuana being visible from the backyard.  The residence and marijuana grow was across the street from Redway Elementary school and backed up to the local fire department.

When deputies served the search warrant they located 56 growing marijuana plants ranging in size from 3’ to 4’ tall. They also located 91 pounds of processed manicured marijuana bud packaged for sale in one pound bags (worth approximately $91,000.00 wholesale), 42 pounds of unprocessed dried marijuana, $5,143.00 US Currency, psilocybin mushrooms, a 20 gauge shot gun, ammunition, a scale, packaging material and notes regarding sales of marijuana.

Deputies located and arrested Six Alexander Madley, 40 years old and Sarah Nasia Greenfield, 31 years old, in the residence. They were arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where they were booked on charges of cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana, possession of illicit drugs, maintaining a residence for drugs, felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person. Their bail was set at $50,000.00 each.

Pat's Market in Eureka robbed

On 08/06/14 at about 8:00 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 1200 block of 11th Street for a robbery that had just occurred at Pat’s Market.  Officers arrived on scene and were advised that a male wearing a bandana over his face came to the register and demanded cash.  The male simulated a firearm in his sweatshirt, however no weapons were seen.

Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspect.  The suspect is described as a white male, 5’6” to 5’8”, medium build, and was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt.  The suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of money.

"We love him", Team Silverio in court to show solidarity and support

Silverio Sanchez's sister, his nieces and nephews, some wearing orange t shirts with Team Silverio written in black were in court today. His sister Crystal wants the public to know his family loves him and supports him. She said other family members are working so those that can attend court want to be there for Silverio as often as possible.

Silverio Sanchez preliminary hearing rescheduled for August 12 due to scheduling

Channel 3 was the only media present in Courtroom 4 this morning for the preliminary hearing scheduled for Silverio Sanchez this morning.

His attorney, Ben McLaughlin made the request after consulting with Sanchez. Judge Dale Reinholtsen informed Mr. McLaughlin and DDA Zach Curtis that he is the only Judge available for preliminary hearings tomorrow. This is because Judge John Feeney is starting a trial and the other Judges are on vacation this week.

He gave the attorneys the option of starting today and continuing next week. The preliminary hearing is expected to last two and half days. Mr. McLaughlin asked that the hearing be set for next week so that Sanchez would have a continuous hearing.

Preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on August 12.


Silverio Sanchez preliminary hearing this morning, Eddie Lee case update

I am not covering Silverio Sanchez but may have occasional updates. Eddie Lee is on today for Disposition/Reset hearing.

20,000 dollars of preliminary damage estimated in E street fire

At approximately 0412 hours this morning, Humboldt Bay Fire (HBF) was dispatched to a structure fire on the 2800 block of E St.  HBF responded with three fire engines, one ladder truck, and two Chief Officers.  While enroute, dispatch relayed information that the occupant was out of the residence, but stated his brother was unaccounted for and was possibly still inside.

The first arriving HBF engine reported a single story wood framed stucco residence with smoke showing with the heaviest smoke showing from the rear.  The engine passed command and began setting up for fire attack and search of the residence.  Fire crews arriving on scene aggressively attacked the fire and searched the entire residence based on the information that there were unaccounted for residents.  Crews quickly confirmed that there was indeed no one inside.  The fire was quickly controlled within 10 minutes of arrival.  All damage was confined to the building of origin.  Preliminary damage estimate is $15,000 to $20,000.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Suspect turns himself in to HCSO after seeing his picture in local media outlets


On 08-05-2014, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Codie Shane Donahue walked into the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and turned himself in. Donahue told deputies who interviewed him that he learned he was wanted after seeing his picture and the news release in local media outlets. Donahue was arrested for assault with a firearm, burglary, intimidation of a witness and terrorist threats. He is being held without bail.

Previous release:

On 08-05-2014, at approximately 1:00 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a domestic violence in progress.  One of the victims reported the suspect, identified as Codie Shane Donahue, 34 years old, was armed with a semi-auto handgun and was attempting to force his way into the victims residence located Axak Court, Orleans.

When deputies arrived at the residence they spoke with three adult female victims. They reported Donahue drove up to the residence real fast in his black truck, and began pounding and kicking on the front door. Donahue then smashed in the front living room window, before returning to the front door and again trying to force it open. Donahue was able to force entry into the residence and pointed a black semi- automatic handgun at all three victims while making several death threats against them. The victims fled the home through a back bedroom window and hid until Donahue left the residence.

One of the victims, a 25 female, told deputies she been in a dating relationship with Donahue, who lived in the residence with her until a few weeks ago. The victim recently told him she wanted to terminate the relationship. The other two female victims were just visiting the residence when the assault occurred.

None of the victims were injured during the assault.  A local be-on-the-lookout was broadcast to all local law enforcement agencies. Donahue is wanted for assault with a firearm, terrorist threats, burglary and threatening a witness.

Codie Shane Donahue is described as follows: Native American, brown hair, brown eyes, 5’10 “ tall and approximately 220 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black long sleeved shirt, dark jeans. He was armed with a black semi- automatic handgun, possibly a 9mm. He was last seen driving a black 1998 Dodge Truck, California Plate 7Y41056 with a “skull or metal mulisha stickers” on the side windows.


Don't drink and drive a stolen vehicle a few miles from the theft

On August 5, 2014, at about 11:27 PM, a Eureka Police Department officer on patrol spotted a silver 1988 Volvo 740 sedan travelling eastbound on West Harris near Pine Street. The officer recognized the Volvo, which was occupied by two males, as a vehicle which had been reported stolen to Humboldt area CHP on August 3rd.  A high risk traffic stop was conducted on Pine Street at Highland Avenue and the occupants were detained at gunpoint.

The driver, Ronald Allen Crossland (age 48 of Arcata), was subsequently arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Jail where he was booked for possession of stolen property, DUI, driving with a suspended license, and probation violation.  His bail was set at $25,000.00. Crossland’s passenger was released at the scene after it was determined he had no involvement in the vehicle’s theft.

The Volvo was released to its owner at the scene. The owner told officers a relative had been borrowing her vehicle when it was stolen near Pump Station Four off West End Road in Arcata. It had been left unattended with its keys in its ignition at the time.

Aug 5, 2014

"Bodhi Tree is a cold blooded killer who kills people he barely knows"

The defense made a big deal about motive in their closing. Ms. Firpo said motive was an issue in this case. "Bodhi Tree is a cold blooded killer who kills people he barely knows. Mr. Tree barely needs a motive to shoot people."

"He shot Rhett because Rhett didn't defend him. He shot two young people whose crime was that Christina didn't want to get with him and Sunshine defended Christina."


"All the evidence pointed to Bodhi Tree. Multiple people pointed out one person." Many of these people did not each other and yet corroborated each other.

Regarding the inconsistencies, "It is minutia, it isa smokescreen. It does not point to reasonable doubt."

"Most of Humboldt County is dodgy about marijuana" Firpo counters defense closing

Ms. Firpo only took approximately 30 minutes for her rebuttal to defense. "Most of Humboldt County is dodgy about marijuana" was a statement she made because in his closing Mr. Russo took a jab at Rhett August, one of the victims in this case, who did not fold under Mr. Russo's attempt to shake him on cross.

Mr. Russo was unable to get an answer from Rhett about the six pounds of marijuana that Mr. Russo wanted. Mr. Russo described Rhett's answer as  "dodgy."

Despite the defense's very personal attacks on her, the DA's office, law enforcement and prosecution witnesses, Ms. Firpo did not sink to their level.

There was one strong statement she made, "The only bought testimony in this trial was that of defense experts and I only bring that up because they are saying I bought testimony."

And it was well-deserved. The defense could not counter facts or evidence. And they have minimized the risk prosecution witnesses took by testifying against Tree who is no stranger to a criminal past himself.

Ms. Firpo pointed out to the jury that the defense made it sound like she worked for the government. She acknowledged as a Deputy District Attorney she is employed by the Humboldt County District Attorney's office but she added, "I represent the People of California, all the People, even Mr. Tree. " She repeated what she said in her initial closing that she brought "every thing to the jury" for a fair trial.

She addressed hours of defense assertions in half an hour. Defense said prosecution had a lack of evidence. Ms. Firpo pointed out there were 275 items of evidence.

"The eye witness is dead," said Ms. Firpo referring to Christina and Sunshine. "We don't have a firearm because it is our assertion Mr. Tree got rid of it."

"We don't get to pick our witness, said Ms. Firpo. "Criminal conduct occurs around people who commit crimes." She then reminded the jury of the voir dire process in which they were asked if they would automatically reject testimony by addicts or someone with a criminal history.

"To say we did not bring reliable witnesses is not true." Ms. Firpo said while seven people had a record, 63 people did not. Addressing defense argument why every neighbor was not called?, Ms. Firpo said, "It shouldn't be a six month trial. We didn't bring you every neighbor. We brought you witnesses that were relevant."

Melvin Matthews was a lead and Ms. Firpo said EPD Detective Peter Cress was on the stand for four days and explained why that lead dissipated.

She referred to statements made by Matthews, Upton and his girlfriend that were not offered as proof of truth but for a limited purpose and were made to defense investigator and not recorded. Law enforcement had recorded interviews.

Ms. Firpo addressed the comments about police investigation quality and why certain tests were not done. She did not go into detail about expert witnesses because the jury had heard days of testimony.







Closing arguments over in Tree case, case sent to jury

Judge is giving final instructions now. Baliff led jury to deliberations. With a couple jurors scheduled for vacation on Monday, will they reach a verdict by Friday?

With this case, expecting the unexpected is par for the course.

Defense in Tree case insults victim's families, friends, prosecution and witnesses

 Ms. Holmquist's closing  made Mr. Russo's closing sound mellow.


Christina's family and friends told me right before the afternoon session started how they felt and about misstatements in Ms. Holmquist's closings. And these misstatements were their own statements or information.

Every statement alleged by defense towards prosecution in closing can be applied to them.
Ms. Holmquist said "People can be blinded by personal motivation." Ms. Holmquist is the one that whispered in an open courtroom to her client, "You look nice today." Ms. Holmquist is the one so emotionally invested in her client that she is willing to overlook him repeatedly hitting on young women, a point even the defense concedes.

Ms. Holmquist talked a lot about narrow mindedness from the prosecution. So did Mr. Russo. Yet all they did was judge anyone without a job, who is an addict, and overlook that two innocent people were killed. Apparently justice only applies to Bodhi Tree, according to the defense.

Saying statements like "Sean Butler Smith was the prosecution's baby" is really out of line from an attorney whose courtroom behavior and advocacy for Tree was inappropriate.


If you wanted to see a good show, you should have attended the defense closing. Reality TV has nothing on today's performance. An impartial observer made a comment and this has become an inside joke for some of us. We call the Tree trial, "the Heidi Holmquist show."

Defense made statements like there was no DNA on Mickey's bottle when the tests by the DOJ found Tree's DNA. Another misstatement was that there was no explaination given regarding the time difference in the surveilance video. There was from the store manager. The employee on the shift did not check and adjust it.

The defense did make one accurate point today. The defense said that there has been no admission by Tree himself confessing to the crime but other people's testimony that he committed the crimes.



Sean Butler Smith fooled police, so did Charles Crow, and "put on a show for you"

That is one statement made by Mr. Russo this morning in his attempt to discredit two key prosecution witnesses this morning.

One example of misrepresenting testimony was Mr. Russo stating John Boone hid in the apartment for an hour when law enforcement arrived at the Eureka scene. In court, Boone explained his friend had just been shot. Once he realized it was police, he answered the door. The time that is on hour would require going back and re reading testimony by witnesses and law enforcement.

There was a good show, it was put on today by the defense.


"What we say is not evidence, we are trying to persuade you"

That is the one statement made by Mr. Russo this morning as the defense is still presenting it's closing on the Eureka case that was free of defense spin.

The defense is hoping the questions they raise in closing may sway the jury however they are relying that the jury may have complete amnesia. If you only rely on closing or have not followed the trial daily, you might buy the hogwash the defense is presenting.

The defense failed to impeach the witnesses on cross, many questions they are raising in closing have been answered and explained during redirect or direct by Ms. Firpo.

I will post more specific examples later where defense is selectively presenting their spin or stating their version of the truth.

The defense aggressively went after the character of witnesses like Sean Butler Smith and Tyrel Brannon who provided the evidence against Tree and even attacked Rhett August, a victim in the case.

Taking advantage of the fact that only he gets to talk during closing, Russo got his revenge for the dress down Rhett August gave him in court. I will link to that post later.

In Mr. Russo's world, we live in a criminal and drug culture. If you are on a fixed income or smoke marijuana and don't have a job, you are a loser and snitch trying to buy favors from the DA's office.




Shane Miller died of single gunshot wound and probably committed suicide

HCSO press release posted later...

with a full day in the Bodhi Tree trial, all updates later today.

Burglar steals from donation for ill child


On July 29, 2014, at approximately 3:59 AM, Eureka Police Department officers were dispatched to an audible alarm at a restaurant on the 2300 block of Fourth Street, Eureka.  Upon arrival a short time later, officers checked the perimeter and located several items outside the business that were indicative of burglary related activity though its exterior doors and windows appeared secure.


After obtaining a key from the owner, officers searched the inside of the restaurant and discovered it had been burglarized.  The suspect had left sometime prior to the officers' arrival, possibly via a roof access door.



Officers collected evidence from the scene including video surveillance footage which was provided to EPD at a later date. Upon reviewing the video, officers identified the suspect as John David Paul Osborn (age 26 of Eureka).  In the video, Osborn is seen stealing coins from a donation display board for an ill child and removing the restaurant's cash register after unwisely cutting its still connected power cord with a metal kitchen cleaver.  



On the evening of August 4, 2014, the investigating officer responded to the Humboldt County Jail where Osborn was already in custody on another matter. (On 8/01/14, around 3:00 PM, EPD officers arrested Osborn and a female companion for burglary, possession of burglary tools, and probation violation after they forced entry into a vacant business on the 300 block of X Street, Eureka).  Osborn was arrested and booked for 459 PC (Burglary) in this case.

Aug 4, 2014

Bodhi Tree gets a bit animated during closing arguments

Bodhi Tree usually sits quietly during courtroom hearings, often glancing at the clock. Besides looking bored or occasionally glaring at a witness, Tree shows no emotion.

If he does talk it is only to Ms. Holmquist. Granted she is the one sitting next to him but he does have another attorney, Mr. Russo.

Today when it was not Ms. Holmquist interruppting Ms. Firpo's closing, Tree was talking to Ms. Holmquist during Ms. Firpo's closing. No emotion or remorse when bloody photos are shown, so what was he animated about?

The victim's families and friends are polite, restrained and keep their emotions under control.

Maybe those advocating for Tree, on the counsel table and in the audience need to learn courtroom rules do not selectively apply. The drama is better left for TV shows.

Swear in ceremony for three new HCSO employees

Humboldt County Sheriff Michael Downey is pleased to announce the swearing in of two new employees with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and one new employee with the Yurok Tribal Police Department.

Ethan Miller from Crescent City was sworn in as a Correctional Officer and will be assigned to Humboldt County Correctional Facility. Dustin Del Biaggio from Ferndale was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff and will be assigned to the patrol division for the Sheriff’s Office.

Edward Wilson is a retired Los Angeles Police Department Officer and was sworn in as a Level 1, Reserve Police Officer with the Yurok Tribal Police Department.

It's not a case to the mothers who sit in the courtroom or their family and friends

Rhett August's mother, due to work has only attended the trial once before, at a later stage when the Arcata case was being discussed. Today for the first time, Ms. August saw the photo with the blood drops on the kitchen floor and Rhett lying in the ER and as I glanced over, I saw her silent and subtle reaction.

Ms. Schwarz has been there for most of the trial. Mrs. Marcet was able to attend a couple of days in the last two weeks.

There is real danger and fear of retaliation that has been testified by witnesses. I have my own personal experience which I rather not get into on the blog but has been witnessed by baliffs and other members of the media and people attending the trial.

I am not related to any of the victims but the defense's overzealousness and insensitivity is deplorable to me. Ms. Firpo has shown sensitivity when she shows photos and with testimony.

Statements from the defense such as Mr. Russo telling the jury that giving  closure to the families or finding Tree guilty would only provide the community with a "momentary sense of justice" were out of line.

We need to remember one young man almost lost his life, two people were killed that did nothing to whoever shot them. Sometimes the defense forgets that there are victims in this case whose mothers sit in that courtroom.

A good defense does not mean one has to be a jerk. I have seen defense attorneys with a lot of experience, some that are newer. It has nothing to do with how long you have been an attorney. Some just are more secure and know how to defend their client without making it personal. Is winning more important or justice?


As usual defense starts closing and instead of evidence, we are on the usual tangent

Fifteen minutes into the closing argument, Mr. Russo has talked about jury process, jury selection, despite Judge saying jury does not decide sentencing trying to guilt the jury into voting not guilty.

An hour later, still no evidence to counter what People presented except defense basically rehashing their cross and theories in a typed presentation. In contrast to Ms. Firpo, the defense basically lectured the jury.

Mr. Russo who is presenting the defense's closing on Eureka said the prosecution's "evidence had not risen to beyond reasonable doubt."

When Mr. Russo finally got to stating why he felt the prosecution had not provided evidence, he covered stuff that had already been covered on redirect and cross by Ms. Firpo.

The defense's closing ended today with them trying to discredit Sean Butler-Smith's testimony.

"Everyone is telling their truth in this case, some people's truth is they want nothing to do with this case"

Ms. Firpo continued her closing in the Bodhi Tree case this morning. Using visuals, statements and viscerating defense's arguments, Ms. Firpo made a compelling closing potraying Bodhi Tree as a willful, deliberate murderer who like a coward sneaked in the dark and shot Rhett August and days later shot an unsuspecting Christina and Sunshine who were "snuggling." Two innocent people who had no time to defend themselves against Tree's actions.

Ms. Firpo used actual statements and photos and evidence police collected to illustrate her point. She let testimony and the investigation support her closing arguments.

Ms. Firpo started her closing today by stating she wanted to focus on Sean Butler Smith. He is the prosecution witness that ties together the Eureka and Arcata cases, he is the one who testified he was with Tree when Rhett August was shot, he is the one who took Tree to the Eye Street house.

"He is an important witness," said Ms. Firpo. "He is not the most important witness," she continued. Ms. Firpo toild the jury that it weighed heavily on Sean Butler-Smith that he is the one who took Tree to the Eye Street house. He felt that if he had not taken Tree to the Eye Street house that his friends, Christina and Sunshine would not have been killed. "He was given nothing for his testimony."

Ms. Firpo said that Sean might have had some things wrong" such as "whether the radio was on or not " in the Landrover but she went over his testimony and asked him about what he remembered a 100% and that "he got the important facts right."

She described Tree as  "sexually agressive, frustrated, angry and unstable man."

Ms. Firpo pointed out that the Eureka crowd was different from the Arcata crowd, they did not know each other yet they described the same behavior by Tree. "A continuous course of conduct that escalated from one person being shot in Eureka to two people being killed in Arcata."

She used the timeline of when the EPD arrived at the Eureka crime scene to when they followed up on the lead of Melvin Matthews and said the police had done excellent work. She showed how the police followed and investigated the Matthews lead until Detective Peter Cress heard from Sean.

She showed the visual of the people sitting out Matthew's residence, a shooting gallery, saying these people did drugs, they don't say anything more to law enforcement than they absolutely needed to; explaining why the police was able to verify that Matthews was at certain places but not get times from these people.

For those of us who have been at the trial daily, Ms. Firpo's technique was very effective. We heard the testimony, we heard direct and cross, we heard opening arguments and closing, and Ms. Firpo reminded us of what we heard with our own ears.

Ms. Firpo showed a magazine with a Mickey Mouse image that Detective Peter Cress picked up and thumbed through and saw that someone had drawn Mickey Mouse faces. She reminded the jury that she had Sean Butler Smith draw that in the court. Ms. Firpo told the jurors that there would be no way that Detective Cress would know that Sean doodled Mickey Mouse and she specifically referred to the defense's allegation of "shoddy police work." The magazine was one of many items in the Landrover that Crow drove.

Referring to the days and days of testimony of defense expert witnesses that provided no information as to Tree's innocene or any new information but just a lot of information not supported by evidence and using police diagrams to support the evidence prosecution presented, Ms. Firpo said, "You don't need to know where the shoother was standing; you know Rhett was shot." She also added that the bullet strikes and testimony did tell where the shots came from, which direction.

She said 19 people testified that Tree was at the Eye Street house compared to Tree saying that he was drinking so heavily, he could not remember.

"Everyone is telling their truth in this case, some people's truth is they want nothing to do with this case". She then went into credibility of witnesses and that many people corroborated each other's testimony and did not know each other; that some like Shane Goodrich and Ian Henry turned out to be more beneficial to the defense.

Ms. Firpo said that the sole reason the defense wanted the Sean Butler Smith accomplice instruction to the jury was to "discredit Sean Butler Smith."

"If Sean is an accomplice, so is Charlie Crow," said Ms. Firpo. She reminded the jurors that both Sean and Crow testified they had no idea what was going on when they were with Tree to Eureka. Both thought they were getting drugs or money in exchange for giving Tree a ride to Eureka. They did not know Rhett.

"post being updated...now...