Jul 24, 2015

What is it like to work for Maggie? Changes she has made since she took office and candid answers from our current DA on plea deals, Measure Z and more

I wanted to do an feature on the District Attorney’s office and the positive changes I have seen since DA Maggie Fleming took office in January.

I have known Maggie for a long time, before she became the DA and will be using her first name.

I have written about my observations about the DA’s office under the past administration and the changes I have seen in the last 6 months: For those who may have not read my blog since it started, here is a summary. 

In the first two months, the most obvious changes I saw was that Maggie was very visible and active on the second floor, from day one. She was overseeing cases, especially the high profile ones, mentoring all attorneys and reaching out very pro-actively to the other partners in the criminal justice system. I also saw Mr. Andrew Isaac mentoring other younger deputy district attorneys. It was very obvious from the beginning that Maggie’s team had the support of their boss and the younger and newer staff could rely on the more experienced attorneys.

The difference in the demeanor of the staff is obvious. They are happier, given the stress and workload of a very demanding job, for me to notice that says something.

It was very evident from day one that the balance in the courtroom was not lopsided towards defense, anymore. Some prosecutors always gave input, but under Maggie’s leadership, there is a consistency with all deputy district attorneys with the presentation and procedure in the courtroom. 

The following is what I asked Maggie. Her responses are in red.

Any changes you plan to make this year, especially with the Measure Z funding?

Measure Z funding is allowing us to return the office to what has previously been considered “full staff”.   Our recruitment for Deputy DA positions is currently ongoing. 

 These are changes I have observed since you took office:

Considering the backlog by the previous administration, you have done a fantastic job of getting those cases prosecuted, (Ferrer, Warren, Throckmorton are just some examples) while arraigning new cases immediately.
More prosecution wins in jury trials; even cases that had different results in the past (Throckmorton, Lee/Curry).

It seems that in addition to a CAST team (Ms. Bennett and Mr. Curtis), there are attorneys specializing in other types of cases (domestic violence seems to be Ms Neel). It seems the felonies and more serious cases are being handled by Ms. Neel, Mr. Rees and Ms. Pizzo, Mr. Isaac and Ms. Eads. The three new hires stepped in right away and have also handled jury trials within the first couple months (and won, the last so far applies to Mr. Trent Timm). Investigators are present with the deputy district attorneys on certain cases. 

I have now assigned 2 attorneys to CAST to cover its substantial caseload.  One specific benefit of this is if one CAST DDA is in trial we still have a deputy to cover preliminary hearings and CAST interviews. 

Kelly Neel is assigned to Domestic Violence along with DA Investigator Lynne Soderberg, who was hired specifically to deal with the Domestic Violence case load.

Felonies are handled by the two DDAs assigned to CAST, Zack Curtis and Brie Bennett as well as  Kelly Neel, Stacey Eads, Roger Rees, and Jackie Pizzo.

Investigators and victim witness advocates are involved in cases throughout the process.  Investigators directly assist with all trials (both felonies and misdemeanors).

Humboldt County has ten murder cases and eight vehicular manslaughter cases.  Specific attorneys, investigators and victim witness advocates are assigned these cases and work as a team from the point the case is filed by the DA’s office to sentencing.

I see releases being opposed, Cruz waivers being opposed, and prior criminal history being provided when OR or supervised release is requested. In some cases, the Judges may let someone be released but it seems the the DA's office is actively watching out for the public. You are only prosecuting one case: Warren. You are there for trial assignments, why is that?

By handling the trial assignment calendar I am able to review all the cases that may go to trial and make the final evaluation on whether or not a jury panel (approximately 70 members of the public) should be summoned for a particular case.  This also allows me to prioritize all the pending cases.  In some cases trials may need to get started to avoid witness issues that may arise if the case is continued. 

Plea deal are still a part of the process. You have been transparent about plea deals and very forthcoming when I have asked about these cases. What is the criteria? 

Before any plea negotiations (concerning either the charges or sentencing) a prosecutor must evaluate the facts of the case, the record of the person, public safety concerns and the victim’s input. 

How much leeway do deputy district attorneys have in making a deal without consulting with you?  

The terms of any plea offers are initially outlined as part of the charging decision and are then re-evaluated when the defense provides additional information or suggests alternatives to the position taken by the DA office.  Currently, if the case is a violent or serious felony deputy district attorneys must discuss cases with me or Wes Keat before a plea is entered.  This approach creates consistency and efficiency, in that the defense has no motivation to “shop” among prosecutors for plea deals.  It also insures that plea deals are made only by experienced prosecutors.  I anticipate that as DDAs gain experience and understanding of the Office’s approach to plea negotiation, less oversight will be needed. 

Will Mr. Andrew Isaac and Mr. Wes Keat be staying beyond this year?  I hope so.  Given our heavy caseload, their contributions to our capacity and efficiency remain critical.

Everyone deserves a second chance. How Betty Chinn, homeless court and Judge Feeney made the difference in one man's life

This is from the facebook set up for Betty Chinn. I thought it was worth sharing because people need to see the real and practical effect Betty Chinn has on people's lives and people need to see a different view of our Judges other than what they see in court.

Jack wanted to change. Jack overcame obstacles and Jack became successful. With scarce resources, it is people like Jack that sometimes don't get the support they need because career criminals have abuse the system in their favor. You have to want to change, accept responsibility and people will help.

If we want less incarceration, more people to get help, government services don't work. They have a cookie cutter system manipulated by those not wanting to change. The business community has the freedom to help individuals like Jack. Instead of funding government resources and more taxes, the businesses, the landlords, need to invest into our society and individuals. Until they do not, we will continue to see the system fail people like Jack.

Second Chances
This is a story about second chances, and several community members that have helped give people a second chance at life. A homeless young man (we’ll call him ‘Jack’) that Betty knew had a minor legal problem that he just never could get himself to take care of. He suffered from depression, and even though the legal matter weighed heavy on him, he just didn’t have the energy to face going to the County Courthouse to deal with it. Eventually his depression became so debilitating that he was placed on SSI disability.
Betty suggested to Jack that he clear up his legal issue by going to the Homeless Court held at St. Vincent de Paul’s dining facility, but he kept putting it off. Betty had learned about homeless court just a few months before, from a local woman named Suzie Van Kirk, who is a homeless court advocate. Many homeless people are uncomfortable appearing at the Courthouse. With Homeless Court, Judge Feeney goes to the people, at various locations, instead of making them come to him.
Unable to get beyond his depression, Jack missed his first homeless court appearance date. But Betty kept insisting that he really needed to clear his record. She went with him to the next homeless court session, and Judge Feeney decided to give Jack a second chance by clearing his record, and giving him 20 hours of community service. For people that can’t pay fines, this allows them to pay back their community and get a fresh start in life.
Once Jack had cleared his record, Betty got him a yard-work job. She hadn’t been willing to let him work for anyone until his legal record was cleared. Jack felt good about earning his own money, and he enjoyed the work. After this experience, he felt like he could earn his own way in life, rather than receiving SSI. He started getting day jobs and various yard work jobs, earning good money. He began feeling better about himself, which changed his expectations for his life. Jack decided to go back to school.
This year Jack graduated from HSU, and invited Betty to attend his graduation. While watching the graduation ceremonies, Betty was struck by the idea that everyone has a gift to reach out to someone, and change their life. Judge Feeney had given Jack (and many other homeless individuals) a second chance in life by helping him clear his record, so he could earn his own way in life. Jack had no family. The seed of hope had been buried deep inside of him, under layers of depression. Fortunately for Jack, the compassion of a local judge helped that seed within begin to sprout.
Betty is honored to have Judge Feeney hold homeless court at the Day Center. It takes a community of people, looking at life from different angles, to help lift people up. Everyone has a gift to reach out to someone, and change their life. Your gift may be very different than someone else’s, but you’ll never know the power of your gift to change a life if you don’t offer it. Everyone deserves a second chance. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Defense asks for oral continuance for Redway suspect Jason Armstrong's jury trial , dates to be set next week

Jason Armstrong is charged with the homicide of Daneyal Siddique of Redway California.

His jury trial date of July 27 has been vacated. Mr. Kevin Robinson from the Public Defender's office requested a continuance during the trial assignment calendar this morning. 

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel who is prosecuting the case said the that it was her understanding that the defense expert had not completed testing.

Mr. Robinson told Visiting Judge Arnold Rosenfield that the expert was waiting on funding from the court, which was approved, but the report will not be ready by the July 27 trial date.

Neither the Judge or the DA's office had received a copy of the motion. Mr. Robinson said he was reauesting a trial date of late September/beginning of October based on the timeline provided by the defense expert.

Judge John Feeney returns next week. A court hearing on the defense motion and setting of dates is set for July 27 at 2 p.m.

Previous posts:


Jul 23, 2015

Jury trial date of October 13 set for suspect in Sohum home invasion involving his own mother

Seth Morton, who was held to answer a couple of weeks ago to all charges in a Sohum home invasion involving his own mother was arraigned on information for his jury trial today in Courtroom 1.

Count 1 is first degree burglary with a special allegation that he used a firearm during the commission of a crime; Count 2 possession of a firearm by a felon with a prior from Mendocino in 2011 for VC 2800.2; Count 3 Shooting at an inhabitated dwelling; Count 4 receiving stolen property; Count 5 and 6 unlawful driving/taking of a vehicle (two vehicles were involved); Count 7 VC 2800.2 and Count 8 driving with a suspended/revoked license.

The Public Defender's office is representing Morton. September 22 is Trial Confirmation at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2, October 7 is trial readiness at 1 p.m. in Courtroom 2 and jury trial is October 13.

Previous posts with other links:


Cunha gets told to stop talking in court, he flips me the bird

James Cunha and Rebecca Hamline were arraigned this afternoon, both for felonies for their most recent arrest.

The real action took place before court. Before the case was called, Cunha kept trying to talk to Ms. Heidi Holmquist from the Public Defender's office. She has previously represented him.

She was trying to work and he kept talking to her, trying to get her attention, and finally, the third time she said to him, "stop talking."

He also kept ignoring the bailiff and talking to Hamline and acting out. The bailiff in courtroom 1 is very patient but Cunha had decided to put on a show. He was being disruptive in court, but then thinking of others is not exactly what a career criminal does.

At one point, I became aware that he was trying to communicate with me, and not in a positive way. What caught my attention was that the bailiff told him to stop talking and referring to me said, " I don't care what you(Cunha) have to say to him(me)."

Some other people waiting for their cases enlightened me that Cunha was trying to say he did not want me in the courtroom. We laughed, he was entertaining. Aside from the fact, that he cannot do that in a public and open courtroom, he did not know who I was until today. I have seen him in court but not written about him before.

I can only surmise that his jail issued knickers were in a twist reading yesterday's post. So how is a guy in jail aware of my blog? Maybe he should read how often he has been covered in the local media. Do a google search on these two.

Cunha flipped me the bird and made some vulgar and threatening gestures. I ignored him. Cunha then looked over at his woman who was oh so proud of her bad ass man. Cunha, grow a pair, stop living off taxpayers and take care of you and yours by earning a living.

All the false swagger in court does not make you a man. A man would not steal and a real man does not milk the system. Allan Dollison in yesterday's post made a comment that he sent Hamline away for 10 years to prison and Cunha 4.

This is what Prop 47 has done. Given criminals like Cunha a free pass over and over. Nothing deters them.

Ms. Holmquist was appointed on this case. Conflict Counsel was appointed for Hamline. Mr. Marek Reavis subbed in for his colleague Mr. Kaleb Cockrum.

An OR/ bail hearing is on for Hamline tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 1. Initially, one was requested for Cunha but Ms. Holmquist withdrew that request. All their other cases will also be on calendar.

Intervention is August 3 at 3 p.m. and preliminary hearing on August 5 at 8:30 a.m.

LOCO identified them as commenters on the site and this is from LOCO's post:

Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office is compiling a master case encompassing dozens of crimes throughout the county committed by Cunha and Hamline. They were arrested on some of those charges on 07/08/15 and booked into Del Norte County Jail. They were released on their own recognizance.
Cunha and Hamline both have prior convictions for conspiring together to commit burglary, theft, forgery, and fraud and have both served time in prison.

So in addition to crimes in Humbolt, they were booked into Del Norte County and when released committed a crime, again! Why should they be released at all this time? To prey on the community some more?

Jul 22, 2015

I was in court when he was recently released; now back in custody today thanks to EPD

James Cunha exemplifies "a leopard never changes it's spots"; in this case a career criminal never change his ways.

EPD Release:

On 07/21/15 at about 3:54 p.m., Officers with the Eureka Police Department conducted a routine traffic stop at the 1000 block of Broadway.  The two occupants were quickly identified as known serial thieves, James Cunha 43, and Rebecca Hamline 32, both of Eureka.

Cunha and Hamline were taken into custody for active wants based on probable cause for recent theft and vandalism cases.  At the time of the traffic stop, Cunha was also a suspect in a pending call for service regarding check fraud.

Cunha and Hamline were transported and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for conspiracy to commit burglary, felony vandalism, and possession of burglary tools.  A bail enhancement was sought and obtained for $250,000 each.

Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office is compiling a master case encompassing dozens of crimes throughout the county committed by Cunha and Hamline.  They were arrested on some of those charges on 07/08/15 and booked into Del Norte County Jail.  They were released on their own recognizance.

Cunha and Hamline both have prior convictions for conspiring together to commit burglary, theft, forgery, and fraud and have both served time in prison

Judge Miles definitely off the Ortiz case

This afternoon, Visiting Judge Arnold Rosenfield partially ruled on the District Attorney's motion to disqualify Judge Marilyn Miles from the Ortiz case. Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis who represents Vincent Ortiz filed an opposition to this motion. Mr. Casey Russo who represents Rodney Ortiz said, "we join in the opposition."

As always, nothing in this saga is not simple.

Mr. Marek Reavis was subbing for his colleague Mr. Elvine-Kreis in said that Mr. Elvine-Kreis told him that the People's motion to disqualify Judge Miles "is untimely."

"The Court believes what is appropriate according to intra court procedure that the Court has followed throughout my career, that if the Judge against whom the peremptory challenge has been filed has the right to decide whether to honor the challenge or not," said Judge Rosenfield.

"Usually the presiding Judge hears the opposition," said Judge Rosenfield. "Judge Miles has acceded to the disqualification. The Court sent it to Judge Miles. The Court is bound by the Judge's decision. This Court cannot force the Judge to hear that case. a 170.3 CCP declaration is called for. That is the Court opinion."

Mr. Reavis said that he had spoken with Mr. Elvine-Kreis briefly and that "we submit on the Court's position."

"The Court is not ruling whether this is untimely or not," said Judge Rosenfield.

Then Mr. Russo asked what other department could hear  the next court hearing. Courtroom 5 which is Presiding Judge Joyce Hinrichs court is where the next court date is on August 13. The People were given a deadline to show that they had complied with discovery, upon a request by Mr. Russo.

Judge Rosenfield said that from what he could see "Ms. Pizzo has done everything that was requested of her office." Ms. Pizzo said that there was "no DNA, no ballistic testing, everything that has been agreed to has been provided." DDA Jackie Pizzo is the prosecutor on this case.

Mr. Russo agreed with that toxicology on Daniel Colegrove, the deceased victim had been provided but he said that due t some reports, the defense wants any information blood drawn on Francis Colegrove and Roger Surber given to the defense. Ms. Pizzo said she would request records, if there were any but that she was not aware that blood had been drawn on the other two attempted victims in this case.

August 13 status of discovery will be addressed. After all the discussion of blood and toxicology records, Judge Rosenfield found some records sitting in the file were provided to DA to make copies, provide to defense and return to the Court. "They have been sitting on the file for a while."

Judge Miles was disqualified. Here is a link if you want to read more on http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/CCP/3/1/2/3/s170.3


Last post:


Previous post with links to other coverage on this blog:


DA files motion for continuance for Cutten shooting suspect Judson Stiglich

Hearing on that motion is July 28 at 2 p.m. Judson Stiglich is charged with shooting his ex girlfriend's brother Ryan Robinson.

Jul 16, 2015

Dates remain set for Judson Stiglich, suspect in Cutten shooting

No one from victim's family was present. Stiglich's family and friends were in the courtroom. Dates for jury trial remain.

Last post:

May 8, 2015

Judson Stiglich does not "resolve", jury trial set for August 10

A disposition and reser hearing was scheduled this afternoon today for Judson Stiglich charged with shooting Ryan Robinson.

The case is being prosecuted by DDA Stacey Eads. Mr. Russ Clanton is representing Stiglich.

"Ultimately, this case is not going to resolve," Mr. Clanton said to Judge Marilyn Miles. "We ask this case be set for trial."

Family and friends suppoeting Stiglich and Robinson attended the hearing.

Jury trial is set for August 10 at 8:30. Trial Assignment for August 7 at 8:30, Trial Readiness on August 5 at 1 p.m. and Trial Confirmation is on July 16 at 2 p.m.

Previous posts:


Kufner alleged sexual abuse case sent to jury this morning

At 10 a.m, now we wait.  At 11, the attorneys,went in, they came out at 11:28. The jury is only deliberating until noon. Mr. Russo told this to me and Donna,Sparks, one of the community observers who attended today's hearing, since we were waiting outside the courtroom.

Courtroom 4 is not in session Friday or Monday. There was no verdict today, they will be back Tuesday.

Preliminary hearing for Thomas Lusk, the Miranda man accused of sexual assault continued

A disposition and reset hearing set for August 13 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2. Lusk waived time. DDA Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case. Conflict Counsel's Mr. Marek Reavis is representing Lusk.

Lack of courtrooms is reason for the change.

Some additional from Kym Kemp's Redheaded Blackbelt post:

Lusk's bail is set at $650,000. Lusk is charged with “one count of torture, one count of rape by force or violence, one count of penetration by a foreign object, one count of oral copulation by force or violence, one count of assault and one count of false imprisonment.” The count of torture carries a sentence of life imprisonment.

Jul 9, 2015

Man who was arrested for mistreating a dog in 2011 now charged with alleged sexual asault

HCSO Press Release:

On Monday, 07/06/2015, at about 8:15 PM, a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy was dispatched to CA Highway 254 just north of Phillipsville to contact a California Highway Patrol Officer who was standing by with the victim of an alleged sexual assault.

The 31 year old female victim reported that she met Thomas Leonard Lusk Jr., age 34 years, about three days ago near Miranda, CA. She was waiting for the bus to continue her travels. Lusk told her the bus wouldn’t be arriving for several hours and he suggested she wait at his residence. The victim thought this was a good idea and she went with Lusk to his residence in Miranda.

Lusk and the victim were at his residence for several hours conversing. When the victim questioned Lusk about the bus, he became angry and started beating her with his fists and threatened to kill her. Lusk kept the victim captive, by force and fear, in his residence for the next three days where he sexually assaulted her repeatedly. On the third day Lusk left the victim alone and she was able to escape through a bedroom window. She ran to the highway where she encountered a subject in a parked car making a phone call. She jumped in the car, told the subject she had been sexually assaulted, and requested a ride to the hospital. The driver started toward the hospital and encountered the CHP officer who notified the Sheriff’s Office of the assault.

On Wednesday, 07/08/2015, Lusk was arrested at his residence where a search warrant was served. Lusk was arrested and charged with rape through force and violence, sexual battery, oral copulation through force or fear, sexual penetration through force or fear, criminal threats, and false imprisonment.

From Times-Standard article in June 2011:

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office arrested a Miranda man Wednesday night for allegedly firing shots at another man after the man confronted him about mistreating a dog.
Deputies arrested Thomas Leonard Lusk, 29, and booked him into the Humboldt County jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful discharge of a firearm, robbery and vandalism. His bail is set at $100,000.

Deputies received a call around 8 p.m. from a 23-year-old Eureka man who said he was shot at by an unknown person on the side of U.S. Highway 101 near the Miranda Bridge. Deputies and the California Highway Patrol responded.

According to a press release, the man had been parked in the turnout working on his broken-down vehicle when he saw Lusk mistreating a dog. The man said he "verbally confronted" Lusk about the mistreatment, reportedly angering Lusk, who threatened to shoot the victim before riding off on his bicycle.

About five minutes later, Lusk returned on his bicycle carrying what appeared to be a rifle. Lusk reportedly started shooting at the Eureka man, who fled into the bushes and called 911. Law enforcement officers reportedly arrived after Lusk allegedly entered the man's car and began removing items before fleeing into nearby bushes.

The officers ordered Lusk out of the bushes, and he complied.

After deputies informed Lusk he was under arrest, he reportedly began kicking the inside of the patrol car, damaging it. He was transferred to another deputy's patrol car and reportedly damaged the interior of the second car as well.

Mad River Union to purchase the Times Standard?

An anonymous tipster sent me this:

"I heard that the Mad River Union is in escrow to purchase the Eureka Times-Standard. Not the building or the press, but the business." 

I checked the Recorder's office, nothing has made it so far. I called Mad River Union and Times-Standard. I reached MRU's editor Jack Durham. He said, " he could neither confirm or deny."

Times-Standard Publisher Paula Patton said, "I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about."

Jul 22, 2015

Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis delivers a powerful closing argument in Kufner alleged molestation case

After Judge Cissna read jury instructions, Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis gave a very powerful closing argument today in the John Kufner case. Mr. Casey Russo, who represents Kufner started his closing and he will continue tomorrow. Then Mr. Curtis will give his rebuttal argument.

I will have posts on each closing argument once the case has gone to the jury.

The case went to the jury Thursday, July 23, the jury returns from deliberations on Tuesday, July 28. Courtroom 4 is closed Friday and Monday. I will have closing arguments posted on Tuesday morning.

"Were the parents of all the other kids dead drunk in their trailers?'

This post is the cross examination by Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Zach Curtis of John Kufner on July 17 when he took the stand in his own defense. See post below.

"Are you in pain right now?" asked Mr. Curtis.

"A little but?" replied Kufner.

Mr. Curtis asked Kufner what pain meds he was taking and Kufner said "what pain meds the jail has."

Mr. Curtis asked him how long he was a handy man and then brought up the fact that he was helping a friend before he was interviewed.  Mr. Curtis asked him what tools he was using.

Then referring to his direct testimony, Mr. Curtis said, "You said they were doing their job. Do you believe law enforcement was doing anything inappropriate?"

"With the paper they had, they were doing their job but do I like them tearing my house apart?" responded Kufner. Then he said, the officers "were a bit harsh in their interview."

"Knowing what you know now, the allegation in this case are molesting a child, do you think law enforcement may be harsh? asked Mr. Curtis.

"In view that I did't do that, yes they were being harsh," said Kufner.

DDA Curtis: "Do you believe that we should investigate such crimes?"

Kufner: "Yes."

DDA Curtis: "Do you believe child molestation is a serious crime?"

Kufner: "Yes."

DDA Curtis: "Do you think it is wrong?"

Kufner: "It violates their rights and causes strong trauma and problems."

DDA Curtis: "In law enforcement interview, you said you could not remember."

Kufner: "Yes."

DDA Curtis: Have you had a chance to think things over between then and now?"

Kufner: "I've had plenty of time to think."

Mr. Curtis questioned Kufner about what kids played, where they played, why they went to his house. Kufner could not give specifics or answer why, but then he said, "maybe because I was up on my feet and their dad was dead drunk and asleep?"

DDA Curtis: "Were the parents of all the other kids dead drunk in their trailers?'

Kufner had no response.

DDA Curtis: "Upto the pretext call, did you have a good relationship with (mother's name) and the girls?"

Kufner: "Girls, yes. (mother), no."

Kufner said that Jane Doe's mother did not like him, that he knew this because she made sarcatsic comments but when asked who invited him to the girl's birthday party (before the allegations came to light), Kufner said he could not remember. When the mother testified, she was very honest about how Kufner helped her and how good he was to her daughters and family. She said they were still attached to Kufner.

Contradicting Jane Doe # 1's depiction, Kufner said that in the beginning Jane Doe took care of her little sister and resented him stepping in to parent.He said, "Jane Doe felt like I was infringing on her territory."

Mr. Curtis asked Kufner about his memory issues and Kufner responded he was "spacey." Mr. Curtis then said, "You had a pretty specific memory of 32 ounce cocktail the dad was drinking." Mr. Curtis also brought up that Kufner remembered incident he related about the girls mother and two male friends.

"That's because I wrote it down," said Kufner.

DDA Curtis: "You told law enforcement you could not remember waking up in Jane Doe's bed."

Kufner: "Did I deny it at first. Yes. I was scared, embarrassed, not proud of myself."

DDA Curtis: "So you lied to law enforcement?"

Kufner: "Yes."

DDA Curtis: "Is there a likelihood that you may say a lie again if you are scared or or embarrassed?"

Kufner: "I think it is a human thing to do."

"Until the pretext call, you had  a good relationship with Jane Doe. You have been a stabilizing force in their life, there is no reason Jane Doe would make this up," said Mr. Curtis.

Kufner then disparaged his victim and her mother. Said that the mother "resented me" and that "Jane Doe had a temper and a tendency to say things  and then not retracting it."

He downplayed his previous testimony about how he helped the girls and their mother, how he allowed them to ship stuff from Oklahoma and store it at his house, how he watched the girls, how he stepped in and took care of them when their mother, in her own words, "fell apart."

"Is there any reason that she had to be upset with you?" asked Mr. Curtis.

"She resented my relationship with the girls," said Kufner.

DDA Curtis: "I cannot remember if it was on the stand or your interview with law enfrocement, you said your body betrayed you, what did you mean by that?"

Kufner: "I was laying in bed with a young girl, my body should not be in that condition."

DDA Curtis: If it was a natural condition,  can you say what was shameful about that?"

Kufner: "I think the Sgts. were making that distinction. That maybe logical. My reaction was shick, upset because that is not how I want my body to act intentional or not."

DDA Curtis: "In the one year you were taking care of the girls, did you see any indication that Jane Doe #1 had been molested?"

Kufner: "At first her fear of the bathroom, night terrors," said Kufner. He said Jane Doe # 1told him she had been touched by a female after the bath incident with her mother.

DDA Curtis: "When she told you, did you do anything about that?"

Kufner: "I didn't find out until later I was a mandated reporter," was Kufner's response.

"I was totally creeped out. I thought this was a SWAT team."

John Kufner, the 62 year old man, charged with "recurring sexual abuse" of his own minor foster child finished his testimony on July 17. This post is his direct questioning by his own attorney Mr. Casey Russo. Shortly, I will post on the cross examination by Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Zach Curtis.

"At times when they were bathing/showering, they would call me in," said Kufner. Regarding the bedwetting and rash issues, "I instructed her the best I could to clean herself, got her ointment."

He said he check Jane Doe #1's diaper to see if "it was wet"; Kufner said he did not "do it all the time."

"I slid my finger inside the top of the diaper, same as I checked my son." Kufner said he checked Jane Doe #1's diaper "because it was worsening her condition to sleep in a wet diaper all night long."

He brought up the fear of the bathroom and said she either asked him or her little sister to stand outside the bathroom. Jane Doe denied she asked him to stand outside the bathroom.

From the post on her testimony, this is the exact quote: "I am not scared to go to the bathroom; I just didn't want to go near his room without someone there."

Asked about his concerns about Jane Doe's mother, he stated that once when Jane Doe #1 was visiting her mother at a women's clean and sober house, she did not want to take a bath but "her mom made her take a bath, anyway." Another concern of his was that Jane Doe's mother spanked her once while they were in the park.

Jane Doe's mother in her testimony stated that part of the problem between her and her daughters were that Kufner had a party atmosphere while she was the one that enforced the rules, taking away their cell phones, as an example.

When asked if the girls expressed any distress about being reunited with their mother, Kufner's response was to tear up on the stand and say, "The girls were as close as I would get to having daughters."

Mr. Russo asked Kufner how he was feeling when he got the pretext call from Jane Doe's mother. He responded, "I was lost, I had no idea what to say, what to do. I don;t know why Jane Doe #1 would say that."

Kufner said he wasn't given notice that law enforcement was coming over to his home. He said the "lady detective came over and got me while I was helping a friend. There were a couple of patrol cars and a van. I'm pretty sure there were at least 4 (officers) there. I was totally creeped out. I thought this was a SWAT team. Kufner said Sgt. Sam Williams and Det. Cheryl Franco asked him, "Do you want to talk here or at the McKinleyville station. They put me in the backseat and proceeded to interrogate me."

"Did you feel like you had a choice but to talk to law enforcement?" asked Mr. Russo.

"No, I felt surrounded," said Kufner.

Mr. Russo asked him how he felt when he was being "intergogated."

"I felt like I was drowning. I was terrified . I felt humiliated."

In response to being asked what medications he took, he said Oxycodone and anti-inflammatory medicine. He repeated what he said during the law enforcement interview, that he "took a glass of beer/wine before sleeping along with his meds."

He denied ever going to sleep and waking up in the girls' bed but said he did fall asleep "laying next to the girls" and that he would "lay in bed at the request of the girls."

Mr. Russo asked him about the "one time he woke up with an erection" and was laying next to Jane Doe #1. Kufner said he would atleast be wearing longjohns and "maybe his pajama bottoms. I jumped up and got outta there. I was embarrassed as hell. It was wrong. I felt humiliated. It was not a proper response laying next to a young child. " Mr. Russo asked and Kufner said it was not intentional.

"Why didn't you say he was a liar?" asked Mr. Russo.

"I believe as much as I cared about her and she cared about me; I couldn't believe she would lie about something. I kept thinking what I could have done for her to misconstrue."

"Is she telling the truth?" asked Mr. Russo.

"No, she was not telling the truth,"said Kufner.

Kufner said there was no inappropriate touching, he said sisters swapped for the top bunk, that Jane Doe # 1 did sleep with her pupp.

Mr. Russo asked why he paused in between his answers to law enforcement.

"I could not believe it was happening," said Kufner. "I tuned them out. Hearing the tape here, I heard things I don;t remember saying."

"They were using language I haven't heard since the high school locker room," said Kufner. He then turned and looked at the jury.

Mr. Russo asked him when he was arrested. The law enforcement interview was in February, Kufner said he was arrested on October 17, "the day after his birthday."

"Did you touch Jane Doe # in a sexually inappropriate manner? asked Mr. Russo.

"No," said Kufner.

"I do not want to speak to whether the victim has been traumatized or not, but there are two sides to a story", date set for case of former Miss Hoopa charged with alleged sexual abuse of a female minor

Today Visiting Judge Arnold Rosenfeld, who is subbing in for Judge John Feeney this week in Courtroom 1 heard a motion to continue from the defense in the Kayla Brown case.  I spoke briefly with Ms. Rebecca Linkous, who is co-counsel on this case. She said the defense is requesting a continuance due to the large amount of discovery they have received and this case "potentially have a serious impact on the life of a very young person," referring to the defendant.

Neither the family of the victim nor the defendant's family was in court this afternoon.

Ms. Linkous made that request in court citing they had just received discovery. And referred to the written motion. The defense was requesting August 12 as the new preliminary hearing date.

Deputy District Attorney Brie Bennett said that "the People oppose the motion to continue." She added that while the People are aware that the defendant had previous counsel, the case has been continued a few times, "every time it gets continued, it is traumatic for the victim."

Ms. Linkous responded, "I do not want to speak to whether the victim has been traumatized or not, but there are two sides to a story."

Judge Rosenfeld granted the continuance with "the condition that there be no further continuances."

Intervention is set for August 17 at 2 p.m. and the Preliminary hearing is set for August 26 at 8:30 a.m.

June 24 post:
Mr. Ben McLaughlin confirmed as counsel for Kayla Brown this afternoon. Rebecca Linkous, also appeared for Brown as co-counsel. Mr. McLaughlin not in court and Ms. Linkous appeared "generally" on his behalf.

Kayla Brown is the former Miss Hoopa charged with alleged sexual abuse of a female minor.

Her preliminary hearing has been on hold since Mr. Jeffrey Schwartz declared conflict. Then her family paid Mr. McLaughlin for two special appearances. 

Victim's family was in court. Brown's family was not in court this afternoon, most likely due to Ms. Linkous stating that  Kayla Brown was "under doctor's care of with a serious condition" and after Judge John Feeney denied the defense request for a 30 day trial setting, she said that they may need to continue preliminary because Brown may not be available for the preliminary hearing. Defense plans to hire an investigator and said they wanted 30 days for trial setting due to more discovery they anticipate from the People.

"Due to no fault of yours," Judge Feeney said to Ms. Linkous, "the case has been continued quite a few times."

Defense request for trial setting was denied after DDA Brie Bennett said that the victim's family was getting frustrated with case being continued. The People objected to the trial setting date in 30 days and instead asked that dates be set for a Preliminary hearing. 

Preliminary hearing on August 12.Intervention on July 22. 

Discovery issues were cited by defense. Ms. Bennett said the People plan to meet with the defense before intervention to make sure discovery is complete and to make sure they received all the discovery that the People had given Mr. Schwartz.

Previous post (with two previous posts and links to all other coverage):


August 31 jury trial set for Michael Beth's case, CLETS order served in court

Michael McBeth who is out on bail, was supposed to be arraigned on July 17 at 1:30 for three misdemeanors. Count 1 is PC 273.5 (a) inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant; Count 2 is threats to commit crime resulting in death; and Count 3 is PC 273 (a) (b) cause or permit cruelty to a child. See previous post link for why he was not arraigned until today. Judge Marilyn Miles read the charges and served a CLETS order which was served today in court.

Had he not shown up today, the bench warrant that was held from last time had bail set at $50,000.

The alleged victim in the complaint is Maria Gutierez. She has not requested confidentiality. Her name is listed in the complaint and was mentioned in court this afternoon.

Mcbeth has hired private attorney Ben McLaughlin. Ms. Rebecca Linkous, appeared on behalf of Mr. McLaughlin today, she said she was making a "general appearance."

Before court, Ms. Linkous explained to Mcbeth what would happen in court. Pleas of not guilty were entered and tine was not waived. Trial Confirmation is on August 10 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2, Jury trial is on August 31 at 8:30 a.m.

DDA Whitney Barnes was present for the People.

Previous post:


EPD release on Everding incident injured roomate was the aggressor

On 7/22/15 at about 12:55 p.m., the Eureka Police Department Communications Center received a report that a male subject was attacking a male with a broken bottle on the 1700 block of Everding Street. The caller reported the subject was extremely intoxicated and was threatening to kill the caller.

Upon arrival, officers found a male who was bleeding from a laceration and was dangerously intoxicated.  The male was transported to the hospital by ambulance for evaluation.  It was determined the two involved males were roommates.

Evidence and statements suggest that the injured male was the aggressor and the other male was acting in self-defense.  The final determination of the incident is suspended until the injured party can be interviewed.

Suspect in Hopper's Dairy arrest on probation, out of custody pending other court appearances

On 07-21-2015, at approximately 11:30 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on routine patrol and noted a vehicle parked in an unusual place, partially hidden, behind Hopper's Dairy, a business located at 17707 N. Hwy 1, Fort Bragg, Ca.

The deputy checked the area on foot and saw a subject in the darkness behind one of the delivery trucks, who was trying to sneak away. The deputy engaged the subject, recognizing him from prior contacts as John Cooley Jr.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the locks had been broken off of the back of two of the delivery trucks and their doors were open. A broken lock was subsequently located in Cooley's pocket, and a large wrench was located, along with a piece of the broken lock, near one of the trucks.

Cooley, who is on probation in addition to currently being out of custody on bail pending court appearances for a recent theft arrest, was arrested for two counts of burglary, possession of burglary tools, committing an offense while out on bail, and violation of probation.

John Cooley Jr. was lodged at the Mendocino County Jail for the listed charges and is being held with bail set at $45,000.00.

I was in court when he was recently released; now back in custody today thanks to EPD

James Cunha exemplifies "a leopard never changes it's spots"; in this case a career criminal never change his ways.

EPD Release:

On 07/21/15 at about 3:54 p.m., Officers with the Eureka Police Department conducted a routine traffic stop at the 1000 block of Broadway.  The two occupants were quickly identified as known serial thieves, James Cunha 43, and Rebecca Hamline 32, both of Eureka.

Cunha and Hamline were taken into custody for active wants based on probable cause for recent theft and vandalism cases.  At the time of the traffic stop, Cunha was also a suspect in a pending call for service regarding check fraud.

Cunha and Hamline were transported and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for conspiracy to commit burglary, felony vandalism, and possession of burglary tools.  A bail enhancement was sought and obtained for $250,000 each.

Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office is compiling a master case encompassing dozens of crimes throughout the county committed by Cunha and Hamline.  They were arrested on some of those charges on 07/08/15 and booked into Del Norte County Jail.  They were released on their own recognizance.

Cunha and Hamline both have prior convictions for conspiring together to commit burglary, theft, forgery, and fraud and have both served time in prison.

Conflict Counsel files opposition to DA's disqualification of Judge Miles on Ortiz case

The opposition was filed this morning and I got this information when I spoke with Vincent Ortiz's attorney Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis directly this morning.

He has also requested that motion be heard in Courtroom 2, not Courtroom 1.

He has not yet filed his writ yet in opposition to the 995 motion that was denied for Vincent Ortiz, so many decisions await before the case may go to jury trial.

Our very own Kym Kemp called to testify in Benjamin Carter jury trial today

It was great to see Kym today. I am  covering three cases in two different courtrooms so I  might miss her live testimony. It will brief said Kym and her attorney Mr. Mark Harris. Due to journalistic shield, Kym cannot testify about unpublished material. She can testify about the article, since it is public.

Benjamin Carter called LOCO while on the run. The prosecution subpoenaed Kym but I know the defense also wants to question her.

Mr. Harris and I have an ongoing joke about me covering his cases on this blog. See Mark, this was not too bad. Even though you shielded me initially from saying hi to Kym!

I did get to watch some of Kym's testimony live.

Jul 21, 2015

Trespass marijuana grow on Humboldt Redwoods Company, HCSO eradicates 270 plants

On Monday, July 20, 2015 at about 2:00 p.m., Deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office responded to a trespass marijuana growing operation that was located on Humboldt Redwoods Company (HRC) timber land in the McCann area.
Deputies eradicated 270 growing marijuana plants that ranged in size from 4 feet to 7 feet. There were no suspects located in the garden site.

Judge Miles off Ortiz case, Judge Feeney to hear motion for next court date

Judge John Feeney will hear the motion on discovery for the Ortiz case on July 23. 

Judge Miles has been disqualified, according to court computer records.

I wanted to make sure I had the information on how 170.6 works locally, and I called Allan Dollison. The quote below is from him:

Each side has a right to disqualify one Judge. Since Humboldt uses a Master Calendaring system the motion can be made at any time. Since Judge Miles had been assigned it based upon the Defendant's last name all of the pre-trial proceedings will now be assigned to a new Judge. The 170.6 is automatic. It is extremely rare for the prosecutor to exercise a 170.6 against a Judge. I chose to never do that when I was in the DAs office."

John Kufner finishes testifying, closing arguments in case start tommorow

I will have a post on Kufner's testimony and the Deputy District Attorney cross examination as soon as I can. Closing arguments start tomorrow.

Sheriff's office seeking help regarding incident with man on life support

On Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 12:48 p.m. a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, regarding a possible male assault victim, who had arrived at the hospital by ambulance. Hospital staff told the deputy that the male victim, who had been identified as 37 year old Khanh Lam was unconscious with a severe head injury and was in critical condition. Lam was flown to an out of area hospital for treatment, because of his injuries.
Deputies and CHP Officers then responded to a possible location where Lam was injured, which was located in the 700 block of Locust Street, Garberville. Deputies spoke to witnesses who reported that Lam was involved in an argument with a female subject and attempted to remove her child from a car. At some point during the argument (4) four males subjects confronted Lam. According to the witnesses Lam took off running and the (4) male subjects, along with their dogs started to pursue Lam on foot. At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground. When witnesses found Lam lying on the ground unconscious they dialed 9-1-1.
On Sunday, July 19, 2015 at about 5:00 p.m. a medical doctor informed the Sheriff’s Office that Lam is currently on life support and has no brain activity. Lam’s family has been notified and is consulting with medical staff on their decision to take Lam off life support. Lam is from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Sheriff’s Office is considering this a suspicious death investigation and is asking for the public’s help if anyone witnessed this incident. They are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office or Detective Jennifer Turner at 707-268-3642.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

District Attorney files motion to disqualify Judge Miles from Ortiz case

The District Attorney's office has filed a 170.6 motion to disqualify Judge Marilyn Miles from the Ortiz case.

I did contact DA Maggie Fleming for comment. Her response via email was, "I won’t comment on disqualifications, John."

Mr. Casey Russo, who is representing Rodney Ortiz, said that disqualification is not automatic. 

Please read the information below on 170.6.

From athenaroussoslaw.com:

California law permits a litigant to use a peremptory challenge to disqualify a judge based on an affidavit that the party believes the judge is prejudiced against that party or his or her attorney. Code Civ. Proc. § 170.6. A new judge will be automatically assigned to the case so long as the challenge is timely and in proper form.

From leginfo.ca. gov:

170.6.  (a) (1) A judge, court commissioner, or referee of a
superior court of the State of California shall not try a civil or
criminal action or special proceeding of any kind or character nor
hear any matter therein that involves a contested issue of law or
fact when it is established as provided in this section that the
judge or court commissioner is prejudiced against a party or attorney
or the interest of a party or attorney appearing in the action or
   (2) A party to, or an attorney appearing in, an action or
proceeding may establish this prejudice by an oral or written motion
without prior notice supported by affidavit or declaration under
penalty of perjury, or an oral statement under oath, that the judge,
court commissioner, or referee before whom the action or proceeding
is pending, or to whom it is assigned, is prejudiced against a party
or attorney, or the interest of the party or attorney, so that the
party or attorney cannot, or believes that he or she cannot, have a
fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge, court
commissioner, or referee. If the judge, other than a judge assigned
to the case for all purposes, court commissioner, or referee assigned
to, or who is scheduled to try, the cause or hear the matter is
known at least 10 days before the date set for trial or hearing, the
motion shall be made at least 5 days before that date. If directed to
the trial of a cause with a master calendar, the motion shall be
made to the judge supervising the master calendar not later than the
time the cause is assigned for trial. If directed to the trial of a
criminal cause that has been assigned to a judge for all purposes,
the motion shall be made to the assigned judge or to the presiding
judge by a party within 10 days after notice of the all purpose
assignment, or if the party has not yet appeared in the action, then
within 10 days after the appearance. If directed to the trial of a
civil cause that has been assigned to a judge for all purposes, the
motion shall be made to the assigned judge or to the presiding judge
by a party within 15 days after notice of the all purpose assignment,
or if the party has not yet appeared in the action, then within 15
days after the appearance. If the court in which the action is
pending is authorized to have no more than one judge, and the motion
claims that the duly elected or appointed judge of that court is
prejudiced, the motion shall be made before the expiration of 30 days
from the date of the first appearance in the action of the party who
is making the motion or whose attorney is making the motion. In no
event shall a judge, court commissioner, or referee entertain the
motion if it is made after the drawing of the name of the first
juror, or if there is no jury, after the making of an opening
statement by counsel for plaintiff, or if there is no opening
statement by counsel for plaintiff, then after swearing in the first
witness or the giving of any evidence or after trial of the cause has
otherwise commenced. If the motion is directed to a hearing, other
than the trial of a cause, the motion shall be made not later than
the commencement of the hearing. In the case of trials or hearings
not specifically provided for in this paragraph, the procedure
specified herein shall be followed as nearly as possible. The fact
that a judge, court commissioner, or referee has presided at, or
acted in connection with, a pretrial conference or other hearing,
proceeding, or motion prior to trial, and not involving a
determination of contested fact issues relating to the merits, shall
not preclude the later making of the motion provided for in this
paragraph at the time and in the manner herein provided.
   A motion under this paragraph may be made following reversal on
appeal of a trial court's decision, or following reversal on appeal
of a trial court's final judgment, if the trial judge in the prior
proceeding is assigned to conduct a new trial on the matter.
Notwithstanding paragraph (4), the party who filed the appeal that
resulted in the reversal of a final judgment of a trial court may
make a motion under this section regardless of whether that party or
side has previously done so. The motion shall be made within 60 days
after the party or the party's attorney has been notified of the

Jul 20, 2015

John Kufner denied having touched Jane Doe in a sexual way

John Kufner, the man charged with recurring sexual conduct, PC 288.5 (a) took the stand on Friday around 11 a.m.  

The complaint filed by the District Attorney's office alleges that there was "continuous sexual abuse" and that Kufner "engaged in three or more lewd or lascivious acts with Jane Doe, a child he had contact with on and off and who was his foster child for the period when the alleged conduct occurred.

For the hour or so left in the day's session, Mr. Russo and Kufner spent too much time with lengthy monologues restating the same facts we had heard from Jane Doe #1 and her mother about how he first met the girls and how they came to live with him. The details about where he grew up, what jobs he did, how he ended up in Humboldt could have been summarized in a few minutes and had nothing to do with the incident or helpful in any way to Kufner. 

His version was not that different than what Jane Doe # 1 and Jane Doe's mother testified to, with a few exceptions.

They never bad mouthed Kufner. His testimony and Mr. Russo's questions made him look like the rescuer and Jane Doe's parents as someone who left their children with him with no redeeming qualities about either parent. He also spoke about one of his marriages ending and his explanation was that this was because his ex wife ran off with someone she met from the internet. He has previously testified to being married more than once.

Eventually, Mr. Russo asked him about sleeping and camping arrangements and he denied anything sexual. He was asked if he ever touched Jane Doe #1 in a sexual way and he said no and then made a deliberate point to look at the jury and make eye contact after he said no.

His testimony continues tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m.

Jane Doe's pediatrician testifies, who will her testimony benefit?

On Friday, the defense in the John Kufner jury trial presented their first witness, Dr. Nina Goodwin. She is a nurse practioner and specializes in pediatrics.

 Dr. Goodwin had seen "Jane Doe three to four times" at her office, the first time was 5 years ago. She also conducted  Jane Doe's SART exam.

Mr. Casey Russo, Kufner's attorney asked her when the subject of bed wetting was brought up.

"It was never brought up in five years," said Dr. Goodwin. She said Jane Doe's dad brought "subject up in a phone call and wanted advice."

In response to a question by Mr. Russo, said yes to genital rash and itching.

"Can it be due to bedwetting?"asked Mr. Russo.

"Yes," said Dr. Goodwin.

On August 5, 2013, during a visit to her office, "Did you ask her if she had been touched in a sexually inappropriate manner? asked Mr. Russo.

"Yes, she said no," said Dr. Goodwin.

February 8, 2015 is when the SART exam was conducted. "In that exam, there was redness and irritation of the vagina, is that consitent with bedwetting?"

"Yes, it could be the cause of that," said Dr. Goodwin. She was not comfortable testifying and her discomfort showed on the stand.

"Ultimately, your conclusion in this case was that you could not draw any conclusion," said Mr. Russo.

Dr. Goodwin agreed with that statement.

"Seven to eight months later would you see redness/itching after an alleged sexual assault?"

Dr. Goodwin said no. She said, "The child also had daytime urination issues."

Both Kufner and her mother brought her in to see the doctor.

On cross examination by Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis, Dr. Goodwin said on August 5, 2013, "I believe she came in with her mother."

"Why did you ask her if she was inappropriately touched?" asked Mr. Curtis.

"She was having vaginal discharge and discomfort which is not usual for a child her age," said Dr. Goodwin. She said Jane Doe had bacterial vaginosis, which is caused by a change in the PH level of the vagina. "It is not a STD but can be caused sometimes by consensual sex," said Dr. Goodwin.

Dr. Goodwin said that she still felt uncomfortable but Jane Doe said she had not been inappropriately touched.

Mr. Curtis asked if Jane Doe's symptoms could be caused by bed-wetting.  "I have seen a lot of urinary issues, I have never seen discharge like that."

Laytonville Murder update states suspect was supposed to have been in foster placement and living with the family


On 7/19/2015 around 12:46 AM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) received a 911 call from the 46000 Block of South Meadow Lane in Laytonville California.  This call was made by a female juvenile who was trying to summon aid to the location.  Within a short period of time a male, later identified as Talen Barton, took over the call and a lengthy conversation ensued. In this conversation the Barton admitted to stabbing four people in the home with two of these persons being deceased and the other two needing medical aid for life threatening wounds.  A MCSO Dispatcher obtained driving directions and as responding deputies arrived, talked the suspect into placing the knife down and exiting the residence where he surrendered without incident.

After securing the suspect, deputies made a protective sweep of the residence.  In the downstairs area of the house they located two female juveniles, a 54 year old female and a 52 year old male.  Both adults had suffered multiple life threatening stab wounds to the neck and chest.  Upstairs the deputies located 52 year old Coleman Palmieri and his 17 year old son Teo Palmieri, both deceased.  Both appeared to have suffered multiple stab wounds about the neck and chest.

Medical aid was summoned and responding members of Laytonville Fire and Cal Fire responded to provide aid.  Both adult victims were transported via air ambulance to nearby trauma centers, one to Redding Mercy Hospital and the second to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

MCSO learned the surviving adults in the home were siblings with the adult male and his daughter recently arriving from Canada to visit family members and to attend a local summer camp for youth.  The two surviving juveniles (cousins) were later taken into protective custody by Child Protection Services until they could be placed with other family members.  The Canadian authorities were notified of the incident and have been working with MCSO and CPS to make notifications as well as reunification efforts.

The suspect was reported to have been in the foster placement system and had been living with the family on Meadow Lane for over a year.  It is unknown if he was "officially" placed with the family by a Child Protective Services Agency.  The family was described by many had "having taken him (suspect) in" and trying their best to make a home for him as well as recently trying to help him get enrolled in College in Humboldt County.

The suspect admitted to being a heavy marijuana user but denied using any other controlled substances.  There were no other controlled substances found at the scene.

At this time there is no clear motive for the attacks.  The investigation is continuing and MCSO is requesting anyone with pertinent information to contact the Sheriff's Office Detectives Division at (707)463-4111 or the tip line at (707)234-2100.

Dates for Redway homicide suspect Jason Armstrong's jury trial confirmed

This afternoon dates still confirmed, no new update from last time. DDA Kelly Neel is prosecuting the case. Mr. Kevin Robinson is representing Armstrong.

Jury trial is scheduled for July 27 at 8:30.

Jul 13, 2015

Jury trial confirmed for Redway murder suspect Jason Armstrong

Redway murder suspect Jason Armstrong's jury trial date was confirmed today.

A trial readiness date for July 20 and trial assignment on July 24 was scheduled this afternoon in Courtroom 1.

Previous posts:


Two new promotions at HCSO thanks to Measure Z Funding

Use to see both these guys every day as they frequently were bailiffs for the courtrooms. Both are well deserving of the promotion.

Sheriff Mike Downey is pleased to announce the swearing in ceremony for (2) two newly promoted Sergeants for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. The two new Sergeants are; Tony Gomes who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 12 ½ years and Greg Allen, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 2/1/2 years with a total of 21 years in Law Enforcement.  Sergeant Gomes will work patrol in the Hoopa/ Willow Creek area and Sergeant Allen will work patrol out of the Sheriff’s Office in Eureka.

These two Sergeants are the direct results of Measure Z funding too increase the staffing levels for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.  There are currently (5) five new Deputy Sheriff’s, who are in the Field Training Program. Once these five Deputy Sheriff’s complete their training program they will be added to patrol staffing levels. Additional (3) three more Deputy Sheriff’s will be hired by the end of August to go through the Field Training Program.

New jury trial for Jason Arreaga is September 8

People did not oppose "due to ongoing discovery discussions.".

Post earlier today:

Another continuance filed in Fieldbrook double homicide case

This afternoon, a trial confirmation is scheduled for the case in which Jason Arreaga is charged with two murders that allegedly occurred in Fieldbrook.

The Public Defender's office that represents Arreaga has filed another motion for continuance.

A second case from 2015 in which Arreaga was recently arraigned for possession of drugs while he is in custody is scheduled for a disposition and reset this afternoon.

Both cases are scheduled for jury trial on August 3. Ms. Heidi Holmquist represents Arreaga.
DDA Zach Curtis is prosecuting the case. Ms. Heidi Holmquist from the Public Defender's office is representing Jason Arreaga. Visiting Judge Arnold Rosenfeld subbed in for Judge John Feeney.

Trial Confirmation is August 17 at 2 p.m. and Jury trial is September 8 at 8:30 a.m.

Last post: