Oct 11, 2014

Even with the trial over, Sean is not safe; his sister's account

This is what Sean Butler-Smith's sister told me. Sean testified to the first assault during the Tree trial and the risk he would take by testifying against Tree.


"He was assaulted by some inmates in dorm 219. He was tied down to his bed and beaten with a bar of soap in a sock.  He was moved back to PC, but he should have never been move to any general population dorm in the first place. I don't know what the DA's office is doing about it. Sean won't give up the names of the inmates that assaulted him. It's probably better that way, so there is no more retaliation against him for being a "rat".

The morning after I found out it happened I contacted the district attorney's investigator, Seans public defender and my old probation officer who was able to advocate for him in a way that I can not as I take meetings into the jail or contact him, other than through phone."

My opinion:

This is why it is hard to change your life in Humboldt. This is the risk Jason Losey, Tyrel Brannon and all who testified took. These are the people Tree's public defenders character assasinated to defend an unremorseful man who continues to wreaks havoc. While ther is no proof that the assault is connected to Tree, where are the inmates who assaulted him?

This is why extra jail space is neccessary so certain criminals do not let go repeatedly. But the blood of Sean is on the hand of those with money and power that have left Sean, you and me vulnerable. Those that oppose growth here and those that do not create jobs so that young men and women cannot escape poverty and crime.

Those in power who are Decline to State, Democrats and Republicans that rather fund media that ignores the human condition than have the truth exposed about people's struggle.

There are those that are trying who have money and power but we are too divided and polarized to support them.

Key witness in Tree trial assualted the second time in jail

On Thursday Sean Butler-Smith's sister tried to contact me, yesterday because of the Tree sentencing, we were not able to talk until later. The building was closing, we all left. Juror #7 contacted me last evening and I will be posting another post from Sean's sister.

It is the weekend and Monday is a court holiday so I may not have comment from the jail or the DA's office until Tuesday.


Dear Mr. Chiv:

I hope others share my outrage about what happened to Sean Butler-Smith, the drug addict who risked his life to testify against double-murderer Bodhi Tree. He was brutally assaulted in HumCo  jail within the last 3 days.

He is now in the super max part of the jail (where he's in his cell 23.5 hrs!) for his own safety. But why was he ever put in general population?

This is not the first time Butler-Smith has been assaulted in Humco Jail.  He lost some teeth and wound up in the infirmary last year after testifying in Tree's preliminary hearing.

HumCo is lucky that Butler-Smith's family hasn't filed a lawsuit for the jail's repeated negligence in not keeping Butler-Smith safe.

The DA's office is trying to move his case to another county for his safety. Unfortunately, Butler-Smith's family doesn't have the funds to get him and keep him there.

He needs a (locked) rehab center in another county.  He has to have support after rehab: some safe place to stay and money to live as he reintegrates into the community.  A family member to live with - and be accountable to - would give him the best chance, but moving is expensive.

Yes, Sean is far from innocent; he has been living the life of a homeless heroin addict. He steals and cheats and scams to feed his addiction. But he is the person most responsible for protecting our community from double-murderer Bodhi Tree.  We owe him and the HumCo Jail (especially) owes him.

I hope he isn't forgotten as the Tree trial winds down.

Juror #7.

Oct 10, 2014

"I'm here to talk about the impact on our lives by the senseless slaughter of two innocent people by a man, and I'm hesitant to use the word, man."

Mrs. Schwarz started by thanking DDA Elan Firpo, the jurors, the Judge and even the public defenders for their hard work. She said on May 18, the lives of the Marcet and Schwarz families were changed forever and she included the August family, because Rhett August was almost killed by Tree.

"I'm here to talk about the impact on our lives by the senseless slaughter of two innocent people by a man, and I'm hesitant to use the word, man." She went on to say  a man takes responsibility for his actions." Instead of man, she said she should refer to Tree as a, "selfish, self absorbed monster."

Mrs. Schwarz said Tree had "no emotion, no compassion, no feeling for anyone but himself. To have to be in the same room and to look at the monster who killed our innocent child, who stalked and groped other younger girls?"

"Sunshine and Christina don't have a second chance and neither should he." She then mentioned that he was let out of realignment.

"Christina was our special gift from God? How dare you play God?"

Throughout her statement, she turned and spoke to Tree, who had his back to the speakers all the time with his classic , "I don't give a ___" stare,

At this point, she said, "Not guilty implies innocence. You are from innocent. What other devastation have you wrought that we do not know about?"

"A man takes responsibility for his actions, you pulled the trigger many times, you ran, you hide in the bushes, you lied."

"Today, I am not here to spread hate, life is a journey and it is about love."

At this point, she asked him to look at her, "Can you look at me?" he didn't. She said, "May God have mercy on your soul."

Even amidst her grief, which she has not expressed until today, she said to Bodhi Tree, "I pray that someone helps you in prison and gives you the opportunity for salvation."

"We will continue to live because she lives in us."

"Little did we know that this nightmare would never end"

Christina's uncle, Michael Tostado with his voice breaking talked about receiving a call that Christina had been shot. Knowing his niece he hoped would fight through and survive, only to have his world shattered to be told she was dead. "Little did we know that this nightmare would never end.'

"Why? Why would God allow this to happen? Why was he released from jail? Why would this happen?"

He broke down as well as other family members when he said that the brutal killing was hard enough but to cope with the fact that Christina would never walk down the aisle with her dad, that she would not have children haunts him and Christina's loved ones.,

"Only a person with absolute no regard for life could have taken a life for no reason at all. We plead with the court to never release this animal to society."

He also read his wife, Amy's statement and she talked about wondering how Christina's mother, her sister, will survive now. "The unknown hero Alan tried to save her life from a vicious animal. You hear news of murder in the daily news, you don't think this will happen to your family."

He thanked Elan and the jurors before he sat down.


DDA Elan Firpo gives notice, joins well-known local firm

No one including her co-workers know this until now, with the Bodhi Tree sentencing over, DDA Elan Firpo gave her notice to DA Paul Gallegos. Effective 11/1, she is joining a well-known local firm as partner.

DDA Elan Firpo, gave notice to Mr. Gallegos, right after the Bodhi Tree sentencing today. Ms. Firpo will be the newest partner at Zwerdling, Bragg, Mainzer and Firpo effective November 1.

“I am looking forward to a new challenge,” said Ms. Firpo. “It has been an honor to serve Humboldt County as a prosecutor, and it has been a privilege to work with such a diverse group of devoted professionals and community members."

It is no secret that I supported Elan in her run for District Attorney this past year and have come to known her as a person and count her as a friend. I have watched her prosecute several cases, the most recent being being the Bodhi Tree case.

Elan will leave a void in the DA’s office and I feel very sad that she will not be the prosecutor for Fr. Eric’s trial. No disrespect to anyone else, but it won’t be the same. In a court of law, Elan’s style personalizes the humanity and loss which is often lost in the legal process.

On a personal note, I am very happy for my friend, an attorney I respect and feel this move is the best for her future.

We plead with the court to never release this animal to society"

To do justice to Christina, Sunshine and Rhett, I did not rush updating the Tree sentencing posts. I want to do justice to the emotional and detailed victim impact statements.

Being first and scooping is irrelevant sometimes. The families have spoken to me privately and will do so later. I do not want to press them today because they deserve privacy, closure and healing and to be alone after this tragedy and months of trials. Their words privately to me and their appreciation of my daily coverage starting from jury selection is what is important to me, not hits to my site.

Some of the jurors were wiping tears as did Sean Butler-Smith's sister Breanne and community members. Even the court staff who were stoic and professional were shaken by the emotional testimony of the families. While Rhett August's mother attended, she chose not to speak.

Victim witness representative Marybeth read a letter from Nancy Jo Marcet, Sunshine's mother. Michael Tostado, Christina's uncle read his own statement, that of his wife, and Christina's aunt and the last one to read was Tina Schwarz, Christina's mother.

Mrs. Marcet started her letter by referring  the loss of her son, "who was taken from us so violently trying to protect Christina." The last words Alan "Sunshine" Marcet texted to his mother on May 17, were "I love you so very much." And on May 18, she found out he was dead. This loss just on the heels of Sunshine's father being killed. Sunshine's younger brother lost both his father and brother in a very short period of time.

Mrs. Marcet said she received thousands of notes from people on how Sunshine had helped them and touched their lives. "It saddens me to know his work is already finished..

"Losing my son to such a senseless act of violence goes deep. He should not be allowed to do this to anyone again. I believe he should have been tethered last time so law enforcement knew where he was at all times"

"He should not be allowed to do this anyone again," Mrs. Marcet's sentiment was reiterated by all speakers, Ms. Firpo and Judge Dale Reinholtsen.

"We plead with the court to never release this animal to society," were the words of Christina's uncle.

The families were very grateful to DDA Elan Firpo and the jurors who they thanked.

"Sentence has to be such that Mr. Tree is never released to society"

"I have heard a lot of cases, I don't think I have ever heard a case where events are so senseless and defy logic," said Judge Reinholtsen before he sentenced Bodhi Tree.

"Sentence has to be such that Mr. Tree is never released to society. "Those were the words as Judge Reinholtsen sentenced Bodhi Tree.

He has to serve consecutive sentences  but the basic gist is he has to serve 75 years and even then with minimum parole times on other terms, it is another 25 so it would be 100 years before he is eligible for parole.

Tree sat with with an attitude, no remorse and after sentence looked at bailiffs and said"Allright, ready."

A friend who has known him all his life even wrote to the Judge asking he be put away. "There is no safe place around hi," said the friend.

You can read the details of his sentence in other media coverage, I prefer to focus on Christina, Sunshine, Rhett, their family and friends.

News is about people, sometimes, those we love and lose unexpectedly.


Jurors, family, community members pack courtroom for Bodhi Tree sentencing

Judge Reinholtsen was calling calendars for courtroom1 and 4. After break Tree will be sentenced. 7 jurors took the time out of their schedules, community members that attended the trial, and the families of all victims have been waiting since 1:45 for Tree to be sentenced.

Finally justice was served this afternoon. Thank you Elan Firpo, jurors and Judge Reinholtsen.

Bodhi Tree sentencing scheduled for this afternoon in Courtroom 4

Bodhi Tree is scheduled to be sentenced today in Courtroom 4. He is on the 2 p.m. court calendar.

Jurors will be attending, Christina and Sunshine will be represented by family, friends and supporters, I expect representatives from Probation and Victim Witness to be there as well as members from the community. It should be a packed courtroom.

I will post after the court hearing today.


Public invited to Humboldt bay Fire Open house tomorrow

Humboldt Bay Fire extends a warm invitation to the public it serves to join us for our annual Open House on Saturday, October 11, 2014.  In the spirit of National Fire Prevention Week, we are promoting the message “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives!" to urge community members to make their homes safer by installing working smoke alarms.  At the event, firefighters will provide important life saving fire prevention tips, host station tours, offer interactive activities for children and present live fire and antique apparatus demonstrations. Community safety groups will also present information and be available to talk safety tips with the public.

The Open House will take place from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Humboldt Bay Fire Station #1 located at 533 C Street.  

Schedule of Events 

10:00 a.m. Station Tour
10:45 a.m. Raffle
11:00 a.m. 1904 Steam Fire Engine

11:30 a.m. Station Tour
12:15 p.m. Raffle
12:30 p.m. Tiller Demonstration

  1:00 p.m. Station Tour
  1:45 p.m. Raffle  
  2:00 p.m. 1904 Steam Fire Engine

  2:30 p.m. Station Tour
  2:45 p.m. Raffle
  3:00 p.m. Open House Ends

Join us for fun, refreshments, an opportunity to learn about fire safety, and to meet your local firefighters! We hope to see you there!

Oct 9, 2014

City partnership with Umpqua Bank provides homebuyer program for low households


The City of Eureka announced today that they have partnered with Umpqua Bank to implement the City's Community Development Block Grant (or CDBG) funded Homebuyer Program.  This program will provide affordable homeownership to 8-12 low or moderate income households.  Low or moderate income is defined by CDBG as no more than 80% of the Humboldt County area median income, as established by HUD.  Homebuyers must purchase "modest" homes located within the city limits of Eureka.

The City maintains a long term commitment to the provision of housing for low or moderate income households, who might not otherwise be given an opportunity to purchase a home, as per the goals of the City's Housing Element.

For more information or a Pre-Screen application to be added to the City's existing waiting list, please call Melinda at the City of Eureka's Housing Division of the Building Department at 707-441-4214.

Human caused fire causes heat damage to cell tower and structure on I street

0145 a.m. Thursday, October 09, 2014 Humboldt Bay Fire responded to a report of a structure fire on I Street with four engines, and two chief officers. Upon arrival the first arriving engine reported smoke and flames visible from a 20 x 20 outbuilding While fire personnel were extinguishing the fire, the building was searched to confirm that all occupants were out.

The fire was extinguished quickly; however it appeared that the fire had been burning of some time before it was noticed. By the time that firefighters arrived the building was fully involved and was a total loss. The building was within 15 feet of a cell tower and cell phone equipment which suffered a small amount of heat damage. No cell service was affected.

Humboldt Bay Fire urges residents that have outbuilding secured and monitored for trespassing activity.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and appears to be human caused at this time.

Oct 8, 2014

River bar "White Power" suspect Douglas Flowers to go to trial again on October 20

Douglas Flowers who was found guilty of battery; not guilty on 1 count and mistrial on 1 count in his first trial gets a second chance.

Previous posts:

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/08/river-bar-suspect-douglas-flowers.html

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/08/jury-currently-deliberating-fate-of.html

"Russo and Holmquist were handed a crappy case and they did a crappy job."

Tree jurors agree with DDA Elan Firpo's  argument about the new trial, handling of the case and Judge Reinholtsen's decision to deny the new trial.

Several jurors have attended different hearings and I am not going to identify who said what to me for their own privacy. As it is, after the verdict, they have received the cold shoulder from the defense.

After the decison, one of the jurors gave me a quote which supported what both the Judge and Ms. Firpo stated today regarding the request for new trial .

"The defense never clearly made the case where the shooter stood that would prove Mr. Tree innocent. I never understood why the defense had the "images " and the experts. They helped the prosecution more than the defense. Ms. Stonebarger only testified about the DNA being on the bottle and sweatpants. All the blood spatter never made sense. Cloutier's ballistics were the biggest evidence. He was more influential."

After the jury verdict, a juror had said that even without the inmates testimony, DDA Elan Firpo did such an amazing job putting the puzzle together with all the witnesses, that they would have convicted Tree. There were 73 witnesses, one witness alone did not make the case.

The jurors have done their job and as one juror said, they do not want Bodhi Tree to get away with murder because of the legal process. All they can do is show up and have their presence speak.

One juror summed up what the jurors felt about the defense team. "Russo and Holmquist were handed a crappy case and they did a crappy job."


Black lexus involved in hit and run; victims include a eight-year old

The Eureka Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance locating a driver involved in a hit and run traffic collision.  On 10/08/14 at about 2:30 p.m. officers responded to the 3400 block of Broadway for the report of a vehicle vs. pedestrian hit and run collision.  

Upon arrival, officers contacted an eight year old juvenile male and his father who reported that the juvenile had just been struck by a vehicle.  The juvenile and his father were walking south on Broadway in the crosswalk at the south entrance to the Bayshore Mall when a vehicle leaving the mall parking lot struck the juvenile.

The father said the driver made eye contact with him before continuing south on Broadway.  The suspect vehicle is described as a black Lexus two door coupe.  The male driver is described as a white male, 50-60 years old, gray hair, stocky build, and was wearing dark glasses.

The juvenile was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital with minor injuries.  Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Jones at (707)441-4109.  

Domestic violence incident involves boyfriend lighting his girlfriend's clothing on fire

On 10-07-2014, at approximately 10:00 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a 39 year old female who reported her boyfriend just assaulted her.

When the investigating deputy arrived at the victim’s residence in the 600 block of Alpha Street, Eureka, he met with the victim. The victim told the deputy her boyfriend, William Josephs Johns, 50 years old, had been using drugs and drinking alcoholic beverages. He was upset with her for unknown reasons and came into the restroom, knelt down next to her and lit her clothing on fire. Her cotton sweatshirt started burning and she had to put out the fire using her hand. Johns then stated he was going to burn her to death and bit her on her stomach, causing it to bleed. He then tore down the shower curtain in the restroom and ripped the toilet seat off the toilet and threw the toilet seat against the wall that she was sitting on. He then fled the trailer on foot in an unknown direction.

Deputies checked the surrounding area for Johns with no success.  Deputies learned that Johns is on felony formal probation for domestic violence and has two summary probations for domestic violence.

On 10-8-2014, at approximately 1:00 p.m., Johns was taken into custody by a Humboldt County Probation Officer and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he is being held without bail.

Judge denies defense motion for new trial in Tree case

Judge Reinholtsen basically he agreed with the People's written response and oral argument today in court.
The previous posts links will give the background and put this post in context. The written motions are basically what the attorneys argued in court.

Judge Reinholtsen said that the only issue is if the new evidence about Ms. Stonebarger "would result in a different outcome in a new trial". Judge Reinholtsen did not think that this would be the case.

He agreed with Ms. Firpo that the information provided to the defense, even though it was at  a late stage, was "merely cumulative" and "would not have had a different result."

Bodhi Tree was in court dressed in the orange jail garb with his trademark "wtf" and "I don''t give a damn" expression. Both his attorneys, Ms. Holmquist and Mr. Russo were present but only Mr. Russo presented oral arguments to the court. DDA Elan Firpo was present for the People.

Representatives from Probation, Victim Witness and two jurors were present as well as prosecution key witness Sean Butler-Smith's sister.

Prior to the motion, when sentencing has been scheduled, other jurors have attended as well. They are very vested in the outcome.

Mr. Russo claimed Brady violation and used the same argument of lack of physical evidence and inadequate investigation. He called Ms. Stonebarger's statement in the People's response, the expert witness, who the defense team is using as the reason for a new trial, self-serving.

Ms. Firpo point by point, explained that the defense was provided in a very timely manner the information when the People learned about it. In fact, District Attorney Paul Gallegos sent it to the defense a day before he informed Ms. Firpo about it.

As she stated in her motion, Ms. Firpo said Ms. Stonebarger's testimony was limited. She forwarded the blood stain she found on clothing to another criminalist, she did not do any ballistics or DNA or crime scene analysis. Ms. Firpo disputed Mr. Russo's claim that Ms. Stonebarger made decisions on what should be tested.

The best part was when Ms. Firpo pointed out that the statements the defense was attributing to Ms. Stonebarger claiming she testified on stuff she was not qualified to were answers she gave in response to cross by the defense. Ms. Firpo said that Ms. Stonebarger's testimony did not provide any evidence that implicated Bodhi Tree. She also clarified Ms. Stonebarger's response was included because she was only excluded from biological work in 2012 for three months and she went to retraining. In 2013, she received a satisfactory evaluation.

The time period she was suspended was not when she did work on the Tree case. She said that the prosecution's primary expert witness and rebuttal witness to defense's experts was Dale Cloutier, who testified three mornings for 12 hours compared to Ms. Stonebarger's 3 hours.

Previous posts regarding defense's motion and People's response:

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/09/tree-motion-for-new-trial-missing.html

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/09/das-office-files-response-to-defense.html

The robbery just happened to occur when the clerk went in the back of the store?


Gas stations get robbed so often, you would think they would be more vigilant. What I am more curious about is if in this incident and the one at Sacred Heart, does law enforcement know if these are repeat offenders?

HCSO Press Release:

On 10-08-2014, at approximately 2:00 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call of an armed robbery which just occurred at the 76 Gas and Mini-Mart 2698 Central Avenue, McKinleyville. The clerk reported that two suspects, one armed with a knife had entered the store, stole cash from the register and fled northbound on Central Avenue.  Deputies arrived on scene within a minute of the call being dispatched and began searching the area for the suspects.

The investigating deputy met with the clerk who told the deputy he had momentarily entered a back office when the store was empty. When the clerk exited the office, the first suspect ran into the store and told him to stay in the office as the suspect went to the cash register. A second suspect entered the store immediately behind the first suspect and was brandishing a buck knife with an approximate six inch blade. The suspects stole money from the cash register and fled the store.

The suspects were described as follows:

Suspect #1 – dark hooded sweatshirt with the hoods pulled up to conceal the face, and dark pants
Suspect #2-  white male adult, approximately 6” 2’,  around 30 years old, light colored hair, wearing a blue bandana handkerchief covering his face, a navy blue sweatshirt and armed with a buck knife

Open season on Catholic Churches in Eureka since Gary Lee Bullock broke into St. Bernard's on New Year's Eve

In the 10 years that I have been in Eureka, before Gary Lee Bullock, I can remember one incident where St. Bernard's was burglarized.

Since this New Year's day, when our safe space was violated in many ways, another intruder broke into St. Bernard's a few months ago and now this incident at Sacred Heart. Of course, the press release is slim on details, and crime occurs every day in Eureka.

Alarms do not deter criminals, I know this from working downtown and Old Town, having to call the EPD on strung out burglars. Churches used to be a safe haven, not just for parishioners but anyone wanting refuge.

Even after the tragic death of Fr. Eric, we have been open and welcoming. There have been other minor incidents at St. Bernard's and one recently where I was threatened by someone who came into church and was aggressive and headed right for where he thought there might be money and only left when I actually called the police.

Crime and break-ins are not okay, no matter where they occur. There is no respect anymore, not even for a place of worship.

It seems ordinary law-abiding citizens are the ones behind bars, where criminals get a walk free thanks to ill-conceived laws.

HCSO Press Release:

On 10-07-2014, at approximately 9:00 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a burglary at the Sacred Heart Church located at 2085 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka.

When the investigating deputy arrived at the church he met with a church staff member who pointed out a front window to the right of the front door, which enters into the sanctuary. The window had been smashed in with an unknown item. The smashed window created a hole large enough for unknown suspect(s) to enter the sanctuary. The suspect(s) located the church collection box and stole it. Damage to the window is estimated to be over $500.00.

Oct 7, 2014

Update on possible kidnapping from EPD

On October 5, 2014, at approximately 7:40 AM, Eureka Police Department officers responded to a citizen’s report of a kidnapping of a 13-year-old female at 6th and J Streets, Eureka.

After conducting an exhaustive follow-up investigation, EPD detectives have determined the witness is unreliable.

As of the time of this update, no other witnesses have come forward, no missing persons reports have been received, and there is no evidence to suggest this crime took place.
The Eureka Police Department would like to take this opportunity, however, to share the following child abduction prevention tips offered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Instruct your   to always take a friend when going places and stay with a group while attending school outings and/or standing at the bus stop. If your child walks to school, practice walking the route with them. Always supervise younger children or make sure there is another trusted adult present to supervise them if you cannot. Teach your children to always stay in well-lit areas, never take shortcuts and never go into isolated areas.

Teach your children the appropriate steps to take if approached or followed. If anyone tries to grab your children, tell them to draw attention to themselves and loudly yell, “This person is trying to take me,” or “This person is not my father/mother.” Instruct your child to make every effort to escape by walking, running, or pulling away; yelling; kicking; attracting attention; and/or otherwise resisting.

Teach your children it is more important to get out of a threatening situation than it is to be polite. Children should be taught just because someone tries to engage them in conversation doesn’t mean they should talk to that person or forget their safety rules. Tell them, if anyone bothers them or makes them feel sad, scared or confused, to trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person. Remind them it is OK to be impolite and say no.

Remember to never leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not. A child should never be left alone in a vehicle. Remind children to never approach a vehicle or engage in a conversation with anyone in a vehicle who they do not know and trust and without first getting your permission.

Know where your children are and whom they are with at all times. Tell your children they should never go anywhere with anyone without first getting your permission. Remind your children not to accept a ride from anyone unless you have said it is OK. Teach your children to never leave school with anyone unless they check first with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.
For more information, refer to the abduction and harm prevention tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at the following website:
http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC60.pdf

Previous Press release:

On Sunday, 10/05/14, at about 7:37 AM, the Eureka Police Department was contacted by a concerned citizen who reported having just witnessed a possible kidnapping.  The caller stated that 3-4 minutes ago, he saw what appeared to be an approximately 13-14 year-old female juvenile walking in the vicinity of 6th and J Streets, Eureka.  A large black van (like a Ford Econoline or similar) pulled up next to the juvenile and an adult male passenger got out, grabbed her, and put her in the van.  The juvenile was seen kicking and heard yelling, “No, don’t” while being put into the vehicle.  The van was last seen leaving westbound on 6th Street from the vicinity of J Street.

The witness provided a partial license plate number for the suspects’ vehicle of “36E4” which he further described as possibly being an early 2000s model.

The passenger-suspect was described as being a black male adult in his late 30s or early 40s, approximately 6’4” tall, with short black hair and last seen wearing a black jacket, white shirt, and blue jeans.  There was no description of the van’s driver.

The victim was described as being a white female juvenile, approximately 14-years-old, with long blonde hair and wearing a pink skirt, black top and a pink backpack.


A county and region wide suspicious circumstances/possible kidnapping broadcast was issued to all law enforcement agencies requesting a welfare check on the juvenile and vehicle if located.  It is unknown at this time whether or not the juvenile is the victim of an actual kidnapping and/or other malevolent act.  As of the time of this release, EPD has received no reports of a missing child matching this suspicious incident.  However, this is an active investigation and all available leads are being currently being pursued.



Meth, hash and one suspect on the loose, two arrested

On 10-06-2014, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies drove to an address in the 1200 block of Vista Drive, Eureka to look for Dustin Whitten,. Whitten is wanted on two “No Bail” felony arrest warrants for possession of a controlled substance. When deputies arrived at the address where Whitten is residing, they saw a Red 2002 Volkswagen Jetta parked in front of the home occupied by a man and a woman. As the deputies approached the Jetta they saw the male passenger attempt to conceal something from their view. The male was identified Austin Edward Neuroth, 36 years old, from Eureka who is on felony probation with a search clause. The female driver was identified as Kayla Marie Tidwell, 23 years old. Both Tidwell and Neuroth were detained.

A Eureka Police Department narcotics detection dog was called to the scene to assist in searching the Volkswagen Jetta.  The dog located approximately 5 grams of suspected methamphetamine and 6 grams of suspected hash concealed behind the gas pedal of the vehicle. A search of a purse on the driver’s side floorboard contained six prescription sleeping pills in a prescription bottle with the label removed. Tidwell’s identification was located in the purse. Tidwell was questioned about the pills and she admitted to not having a prescription, and told the deputies a friend gave them to her.

Tidwell was arrested for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of a controlled substance. Neuroth was arrested for violation of probation and possession of a controlled substance. Both were transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where they were booked. Tidwell bail was set at $25,000.00 and Neuroth is being held without bail.

Deputies did not located Dustin Matthew Whitten at the residence and are still attempting to locate him.

Whitten is described as: White male adult, 26 years old, 5’11” tall, 160 lbs, short brown hair and hazel eyes.


Oct 6, 2014

"I never gave much thought about going from student to working for marijuana cultivation. Now I know I should have never gone that route."

"I never gave much thought about going from student to working for marijuana cultivation. Now, I know I should have never gone that route."

These are the words spoken by Eddie Lee when he took the stand last week. He is still testifying. A young man in his early 20s who stands accused of murder alongwith co-defendant Limmie Curry. Each is being tried separately.

The posts below are only two of the many I have written about this trial. There is no other media coverage of this case.

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/09/father-son-like-relationship-triumphed.html?m=1

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/09/eddie-lee-fell-in-love-with-this-area.html?m=1

Eddie has waited 4 and a half years in custody in Humboldt to tell his story. Throughout all the delays, Eddie has been polite, cooperative and well-mannered. Not what you expect from a typical Humboldt defendant.

In the other posts linked above, Eddie's attorney, Darryl Stallworth, summed up Eddie's testimony.  In this post is one day's testimony which describes in a bit more detail how Eddie went from student to working for someone cultivating marijuana.

It is the tale of a young kid from Oakland who got awards from Bill Clinton, dreamed of being a doctor, helped his girlfriend give up cocaine, ended up homeless, still took care of his responsibilities. It is the tale of a first time marijuana cultivator, a father figure to Eddie, who Eddie cared for, who ended up being murdered by someone Eddie wanted to help better his life.

Even though Eddie grew up in a rough neighborhood in Oakland, his biracial parents sent him and his siblings to private Catholic school because they prized education. Eddie was one of the third graders chosen for "I have a dream program" that financially contributed to part of his school and initial college education. He won several awards, including the Bill Clinton award in 1996.

Eddie and siblings were sheltered. Their parents were very careful who they associated with and they instilled work ethic and moral values in their children. Even in high school, he worked at the Berkley Lumber yard.

He promised his grandmother he would become a doctor. "I liked to help people." When she passed away, this promise became even more important. Eddie chose HSU over other. California State Universities. "When I came here, it was so peaceful, the opposite of Humboldt."

The first year, he lived in the dorms, his grades were good. Then he got an apartment near HSU the following year, failed a Botany class, his roomate couldn't cut it here and moved back to Oakland leaving Eddie to pay all the rent. He ended up couch surfing, his grades suffeted as a result. He was able to move into a house in Arcata. That house got broken into, his roomates moved back to LA and once again he was stuck with paying all the rent and lost that living situation. His grades further worsened, he was smoking marijuana at that time, did not feel then it impacted his grades. Now, he feels it had a negative impacton everything in his life.

He got arrested for possesion of marijuana he was trying to sell in Oregon to make money. He stopped going to school, was on probation and was academically disqualified from HSU.

This was in 2009 when he met his girlfrien Moriah Foster. She was using cocaine. They dated, moved in together, he ended up getting her to quit cocaine. They were both smoking marijuana. In 2009, he also met Curry, his sister's boyfriend.

Moriah and Eddie financially struggled. They were homeless, stayed in his car, briefly with her parents.Eddie was working at Pierson's and Moriah at Bayshore Inn. Through a friend of Moriah's, Jack Lamb, they met Billy Reid.

They were invited to trim. Billy instantly took a liking to Eddie. Very quickly seeing how hard Eddie worked and how grateful he was for the job, Billy grew to trust Eddie. He invited them to live and take care of the property and help him with his grow. He trusted Eddie so much that Eddie knew where Billy stashed his cash and put the money there.

Compared to making $400 every two weeks, Eddie started making $400 to $600 a week and eventually an extra $1,000 driving Billy Reid around. The following year, Billy was going to have a larger grow and split profits with Eddie and Moriah.

This all changed the night Eddie said Limmie unexpectedly shot Billy. Eddie had taken Limmie to the property to introduce him to Billy with th hopes of Limmie working and splitting the larger grow. He did this to help his sister's boyfriend and instead ended up in jail.

Your honor, I could not see that I was committing a theft! I did not know it was crack I was smoking!

The prison eye plan must be good. In the last few months, several inmates end up with brand new eyeglasses while in custody. Some of these are repeat offenders.

You would think they would have used some of the money from the crimes they committed to get an eye exam and glasses.

While they are not getting designer eyewear, the glasses they get are better than from the discount rack.

There are a few creative excuses in the courtroom every day. The title of this post is not something actually heard in the courtroom so far but who knows, maybe soon?

Repeat offenders run out of excuses.

Disposition reached for Stoiber, all decisions delayed another 2 weeks in Ferrer case

Judge John Feeney was hearing cases for Courtroom 4 today as Judge Reinholtsen is unavailable today. This is in addition to the cases for his own courtroom.

Before court, District Attorney Paul Gallegos talked with Sophie Rocheleau's attorney Benjamin Okin and Nicholas Stoiber's attorney Jennifer Dixon.

A disposition was reached in Stoiber's case but was continued for two weeks because Judge Feeney did not have any of the files.

Mr. Okin requested that the motion he filed to dismiss the case against Rocheleau be continued for two weeks since Judge Reinholtsen is familiar with the history of what has transpired so far. Juan Ferrer's attorney, Marek Reavis was not present today, so Mr. Kaleb Cockrum  represented Ferrer today instead of Mr. Reavis and also requested a two week continuance.

Once again, xrays crucial to the case have not been provided for the defense. Mr. Gallegos did his usual, "I thought they had been provided." Mr. Okin clarified, photos had been provided, but the x-rays were still not provided.

The saga of another continuance goes on. The next court date is October 22 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 4.

Measure R will additionally cost $7,717 per employee, for employers that have 20 people cost is over $154,000, says local CPA

Local CPA John Fullerton provided the following information:

"Employers must pay payroll taxes & worker's compensation insurance and that drives up the cost on every employee. Social Security, Medicare, federal & state unemployment insurance adds up to 15.65%. Worker's comp can be anywhere from 4% to 100% and sometimes more depending on type of work. Most employers pay around 8%. That makes Measure R's additional cost to employers of $7,717 per employee. If an employer has 20 of them it would cost over $154,000. Employers will have no choice but to lay off employees & raise prices if they want their business to survive."

My pointing out some facts about Measure R as well as others trying to shed light on how it will affect local businesses, social services programs does not matter to some people.

Most Measure R proponents continue to be in denial on the blogs and on the Facebook page opposing Measure R and reveal that the entire motivation is "well those large companies and employers can afford to pay more."

So, it seems many people are supporting Measure R out of a random hatred for people who have more, envy about those who risk creating and developing a business, and punishing even good employers.

As usual, some voters have no math to back their facts, they refuse to hear any opposing discussion and demonize anyone opposing it.

Only one way to have livable wages, reward and support good employers and support job creation. Criticizing is easy. For those lecturing other businesses, start your own business, hire over 25 employees and pay your employees a starting wage of $12.

Talk is cheap, when you have no clue what it takes to do business, and business in California.