May 5, 2015

Bret Swortzel among "gang of men" in Island Mountain home invasion according to victim's testimony

The preliminary hearing for Bret Swortzel started yesterday and tomorrow will be the third day.

One of the victim's was Swortzel's co-defendant Seth Morton's mother. She testified that she awakened to a "gang of men" entering her home in the middle of the night in remote, rural Garberville.

I attended yesterday and will update this with post with first hand account of Deborah Morton's testimony later today.

Background from Press-Release:


On 03-03-2015 at about 00:20 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call from a victim at a residence located in the 2700 block of South Face Road, Island Mountain. The female victim reported her 34 year old son; Seth Robert Morton, Sr. came into her residence this morning wearing a ski mask and attempted to assault her husband, who is Morton’s step farther.
The female and male victim both stated they were pepper sprayed by one of the three male suspects, who came onto their property. The male victim told the deputies he was able to get a baseball bat from inside of his residence and hit one of the suspects several times with the bat to protect himself and his wife. The male victim was able to chase the suspects out of his residence.
The victims said as the three suspects fled the property one of the suspects fired a round from a firearm and the bullet struck the residence. The three suspects then fled the scene driving a white, late 80’s, SUV. A local citizen who was aware of the situation attempted to block the road by parking his vehicle in the middle of the road. The suspect vehicle stuck the unoccupied vehicle which resulted in the suspect vehicle crashing off the Island Mountain Road. The three suspects then took off on foot. The Sheriff’s office has seized the vehicle for evidence.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’ Deputies along with the California Highway Patrol Officers immediately started searching the area for the three suspects. At day break a CHP helicopter from Redding assisted in the search for the suspects. At about 9:00 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received several telephone calls from concerned citizens in the area of Island Mountain about a male subject, dressed in dark clothing, who was hiding off the road near the New Harris Store. Deputies responded to the area and located 34 year old Bret Lawrence Swortzel. Deputies detained Swortzel and learned he had a no bail parole violation warrant issued for his arrest. Deputies were able to obtained evidence and were able to place Swortzel under arrest for the Home Invasion Robbery.
Deputies were able to identify a second subject in the Home Invasion Robbery as Seth Robert Morton Sr., age 31. Further described as a WMA, 5’-10”, blonde hair with hazel eyes. Deputies have requested a Be On the Lookout (BOL) for Morton with other law enforcement agencies for his arrest for the following charges: attempted homicide, burglary, brandishing a firearm, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, convicted felon in possession of pepper spray and hit and run.
Bret Swortzewas booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility in Eureka on a no bail, parole violation warrant. Swortzel was also booked on fresh charges for home invasion robbery, conspiracy to commit a crime, convicted felon in possession of pepper spray and possession of a controlled substance.
Deputies are currently on scene looking for the other two suspect associated with this case. At this time there is no description for the third suspect associated with this case.
Seth Morton was later arrested and booked into custody.

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