Sep 24, 2015

Open and shut case or reasonable doubt? Two very convincing opening arguments in Fieldbrook double homicide jury trial

After initial jury instructions by Judge Marilyn Miles this morning, the 12 jury members and four alternates got to hear opening arguments in the Jason Arreaga case from Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis and Arrega's attorney, Ms. Heidi Holmquist.

Both attorneys did a good job of keeping their opening arguments to a decent length, very focused and presented two versions of what evidence in this trial will unfold.

Both sides agree on many of the facts and the basic version leading up to the double homicide; the difference being that the People hope to show that the evidence points to Arreaga as the man who murdered Harley Hammers and Angel Tully but the defense raises questions about other suspects, their motives, in particular the People's first and key witness today, Chavonne Hammers.

Mr. Curtis opened his remarks by saying, "I'm going to tell you a story. Later on today, I am going to bring witnesses. Right now is my opportunity to tell you a story, a narrative. This is my opportunity to tell you what happened from start to finish. This isn't evidence."

Referring to the reality of jury trials where witnesses may be called out of order, Mr. Curtis said that he was presenting the events in a chronological order during his opening. He ended his remarks with, "It's a long convoluted road but that is what I expect my evidence to show."

Ms. Holmquist opened her remarks saying, "Mr. Curtis just gave you a summary of this case. As Judge Miles told you this is not evidence. This is a map, not territory. A map is one dimensional. Once you travel, in the course of this trial, you will find the terrain very rocky."

"Mr. Arreaga is an easy person to blame in this case. He is an outsider and a large man."

"By all accounts this was supposed to be a quick road trip, see the Humboldt Redwoods, do a favor for a neighbor. It resulted in Mr. Arreaga becoming intertwined in the Humboldt underworld and being arrested for a double homicide."

I will have detailed posts on both arguments later today.

Posts on the People's first witness, Chavonne Hammers and Ms. Holmquist's cross examination I will update tomorrow. At the end of today, Ms. Holmquist was still questioning Chavonne Hammers. Her testimony continues tomorrow morning.

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