Sep 26, 2015

As deputies described finding the victims, the sobbing and pain of the loved ones in the courtroom brought home the loss more than any testimony could

The People's second, third and fourth witnesses were HCSO Deputy Sheriffs. Deputy Dennis Gagnon and Deputy Scott Hicks who were the first two to respond to the crime scene. Ms. Heidi Holmquist very briefly asked them a question or two.  They talked about discovering the two victims and securing the crime scene.

The third Deputy was Ms. Julia Oliveira. She testified about photos she took and will continue her testimony on Monday morning.

Deputy Gagnon was assigned to patrol in the McKinleyville area on September 3, 2014. DDA Curtis asked him what happened around 5:10 p.m.. Deputy Gagnon said he was dispatched to shots in the Fieldbrook area. So was Deputy Hicks.

Deputy Gagnon described how he arrived and saw a woman subject on the ground with a male subject distraught. He then said he was alerted to the second victim who was in the drivers seat in a truck slumped over taking short breaths but non responsive to any communication from Deputy Gagnon even when the Deputy took his flashlight and shined it into his eyes.

Deputy Hicks who was familiar with Jerry Bachus from previous law enforcement contact said "he had blood all over him" and was telling Deputy Hicks to help Angel Tully. "Her shirt was up near the breast and neck area with a wound near the breast area." He also described blood near a circular wound and blood around her face and mouth.

Deputy Gagnon and Hick's testimony was brief but the description of finding the two victims and their state was hard to hear.

Someone seated behind me was sobbing and that brought home the loss and pain of victims in the case more than any testimony could.

AA still standing and open for business, staffer says "its the hottest place in town today'"

The AA is still open for business. No fire trucks around anymore. While details are still unclear, there was some damage. Will update with information from fire department.

Staffer Jessica said I could use her line from their facebook page in my title.

Undetterred, staff is still serving up drinks and steaks. Despite the "fire",  the steaks are not well done.

"We need you to tell the truth" and ""You understand that this is a murder trial. You are one of the main witnesses."

On Friday, September 25, Ms. Heidi Holmquist, who represents Jason Arreaga, continued her cross examination of Shavonne Hammers.

Courtroom 2 did not get started at 8:30 a.m. but a few minutes later and I was in Courtroom 4 covering trial assignment to see if the Jason Warren jury trial was a go. I missed about 20 to 30 minutes of the cross examination and when I came into Courtroom 2, Shavonne Hammers was still on the stand. Ms. Holmquist was questioning her about Angel Tully's body and about it being moved.

I asked my other media colleagues later about what I missed and they summed it up as saying that Shavonne Hammers responded quite often that she could not remember.

A lot of Shavonne Hammers' responses to Ms. Holmquist for the rest of the cross examination were, "I don't remember." Ms. Holmquist asked her if she knew how much money was withdrawn at the ATM for the drug transaction and how much heroin was purchased. Hammers said she did not know how much money was withdrawn or how much heroin was bought. She could also not remember where she had breakfast that day.

Ms. Holmquist asked her if she remembered Mike Hillegeist being there. Shavonne Hammers said she did not remember.

"It's clear that you knew Harley and Angel were dating?" asked Ms. Holmquist.

"Yes," said Hammers.

Ms. Holmquist then asked Hammers about a claim that Tully was threatening her, Hammers responded yes.

She was not very forthcoming when Ms. Holmquist questioned her about the relationship with her two daughters. Then she showed Hammers a photo of her 15 year old daughter's arm with a tattoo with the names Harley and Angel.

"Did you know that Harley had given your daughter that tatoo," asked Ms. Holmquist.

"I did not know that," said Hammers.

Then Ms. Holmquist questioned Hammers about the "nice maroon car" she had mentioned on Thursday. Ms. Holmquist said that as they drove up in Arreaga's car, Shavonne Hammers recognized that Harley Hammers and Angel Tully were in that "maroon car."

"You were yelling and screaming, get out of the car bitch, you need your ass kicked," said Ms. Holmquist.

Shavonne Hammers responded that she did not remember screaming.

Ms. Holmquist asked "did any of them make any threats to you?"

"I don't remember," said Shavonne Hammers.

"Jason was asking you to get back in the car, you wouldn't. You were driving," asked Ms. Holmquist.

"I don't remember," said Hammers.

"Harley didn't back into Jason's car," asked Ms. Holmquist.

"He almost rammed," said Hammers.

"You don't remember where the gun came from?" asked Ms. Holmquist.

"No, I don't remember," said Hammers.

Again Ms. Holmquist asked her about Mike Hillegeist being there and Hammers responded that she could not recall.

"At this point Jason and Carly want to go back to Lake County," said Ms. Holmquist.

Hammers said they went back to Angie Ehler's to change and then went to her mom's house. She then recounted the sequence of events about talking with her brother, then seeing her son. On Thursday Shavonne Hammers said that her son asked her if she was drinking, she said that she only had a beer, he did not believe her and she was upset and that she physically pushed him on the couch.

She could not answer Ms. Holmquist's question about how long it had been since she saw her mom or her son.

"So you physically assaulted your son because he confronted you" about drinking, Ms. Holmquist brought up Shavonne Hammers own words about her son calling her a liar. Ms. Holmquist said that Shavonne Hammers got so upset that she left her family (referring to her leaving her mom's house).

"They had no money to get back to Lake County so I was trying to help them sell drugs," said Hammers. She said she contacted Angie Ehlers and asked if she could sell drugs at her house. Ms. Holmquist showed some photos of the trailer at Ehlers house and had Hammers identify some people in photos. Hammers indicated the room in the trailer in which she had used drugs.

Shavonne Hammers said she did remember how much of the bottle of Fireball she drank, said maybe half and that she did not share it with anyone. She said she was also using meth and taking meds.

Referring to the time before Harley Hammers and Angel Tully were shot, she said she did not remember a car pulling up, she doesn't remember yelling. "The pills and alcohol were taking effect, I couldn't walk to the bedroom by myself. I wasn't with it. I did not see Harley or Angel."

In response to a question by Ms. Holmquist, she said she "just heard two pops."

In response to another question , Hammers said, "Jason did not tell me to move her (Angel Tully)."

Asked about Arreaga's alleged confession to her, Hammers said, "He confessed to shooting both of them and saying, he took another piece of shit out of this world."

When asked about her interview with Detectives Greg Musson and Todd Fulton, Shavonne Hammers said that she remembered being at the car and talking to them but "don't remember what was said since I was under the influence."

After briefly staying with her mom, she went to another drug treatment program which she said she did not complete because she was "discharged due to dental needs." Detectives Musson and Fulton also interviewed her while she was at the drug treatment program.

Ms. Holmquist showed her a transcript of the interview near Arreaga's car. Even after reading it, Shavonne Hammers said her memory was not refreshed.

"Do you remember saying skittles, " said Ms. Holmquist. "Basically a bunch of pills."

"I don't remember," said Hammers.

Ms. Holmquist read another statement asking Hammers if she said, "I'm not fucking lying to you."

"I don't remember," said Hammers.

She did say she told Detective Musson that "two people had been shot."

Mr. Curtis then got to question Shavonne Hammers on re-direct. Her demeanor switched to being more amenable.

"Are you having trouble concentrating today," asked Mr. Curtis. "Is there anything about today's testimony that is more difficult than yesterday's testimony."

"There is someone in the audience that has threatened me on facebook, making it very emotional," said Hammers.

Attorneys approached Judge Marilyn Miles and had private discussions. There was a man in the audience who was not there Thursday. He was sitting a couple seats away from me in the same row.

"After discussions with counsel," said Judge Miles and she pointed to that man and asked Shavonne Hammers if that was the person. He was asked to step outside just until Shavonne Hammers finished testifying. Judge Miles said, "there is no problem. He was being cooperative."

Shavonne Hammers said that she had been clean and sober for a year now.

Ms. Holmquist got to question her on re-cross. Ms. Holmquist said that Hammers brought up pills and alcohol as a reason for not remembering instead of the person in the audience.

"At no point did you say you didn't remember because I was distracted and intimidated," said Ms, Holmquist.

"I wasn't aware I could answer the truth in this situation," said Hammers.

"We need you to tell the truth," said Ms. Holmquist. She reminded Hammers that she took an oath to tell the truth on the stand. "Were you lying?"

"I was telling the truth," said Hammers.

"To me you didn't seem distracted," said Ms. Holmquist.

"Part of the time, I wasn't distracted," said Hammers.

"Are there any answers I should reask," said Ms. Holmquist.

"You asked a lot," said Hammers.

"Is there anything you remember now that you didn't 20 minutes ago," said Ms. Holmquist. "You understand that this is a murder trial. You are one of the main witnesses."

"Yes," said Hammers. "The answers I gave were the truth."

Old Town is alive with the Sound of Music for the ribbon cutting for Taste of Bim

Eureka Mayor Frank Jager, Eureka Main Street Director Charlotte McDonald, Eureka Chamber of Commerce Director Susan Gillespie, Eureka City Councilmember Marian Brady, former City Councilmember Chet Albin, Chamber Director Don Smullin and about 50 people showed up. Rousing music  from the Pan Dulce Steel Orchestra kicked off the ribbon cutting for the Taste of Bim, whose opening was first reported on this blog.

Prices are very reasonable. Cod Fritters, fried plaintain jerk chicken wings are some of the appetizers. Island burger, roti wraps, rice bowls and there is even chow mein and shepherds pie as sides.

Sep 25, 2015

A press release shows Shavonne Hammers did not tell the complete truth about the McDonald incident and Harley Hammers

In her testimony yesterday in the Arrega case, Shavonne Hammers said she left Harley Hammers after he let her get arrested in the McDonald parking lot for a stolen vehicle.

To paraphrase her, these were not her exact words, but she basically insiniuated he let her take the rap.

According to the press release, Harley Hammers was also arrested.

In today's cross examination, in response to a question by Ms. Holmquist, she said, "I wasn't aware I could answer the truth in this situation."

So how much of Shavonne Hammers testimony is the truth and nothing but the truth?

In this link on LOCO, is a press release on the McDonalds incident mentioned by Shavonne Hammers.

On 3-2-2013, approximately 5:45 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report from Blue Lake Casino Security regarding a suspicious truck parked in their parking lot. Security reported a white 1997 Ford Ranger had arrived at the Casino about 1:30 a.m. on 03-02-2013 and both front side windows were broken. The people who had been around the vehicle had left and the truck was left unoccupied. The Casino Security attempted to find the registered owner of the vehicle and determined they were not a patron. The also attempted to call the registered owner and were not able to make contact with the trucks owner.
The deputy examined the vehicle and saw there was glass covering the front seats. The deputy drove to the registered owners address in the 7000 block of West End Road, Arcata and saw several exterior doors to the residence were open. The interior of the home appeared to be ransacked. Deputies found a crowbar in the home which appeared to have been used to force entry into the home. Multiple doors had been forced open. Deputies were able to contact the owner of the residence who was out of the area. The owner told the deputies there was a BMW 321i that should have been parked at the home. Deputies discovered that vehicle was also stolen. Deputies had dispatch broadcast that the BMW was stolen to local law enforcement and entered it into the stolen vehicle system.
On 3-3-2013, deputies were notified by a friend of the victim that was checking on the home that the home had been broken into again, and additional items were stolen including a washer and dryer.  It appeared the suspects had returned to the residence overnight. Deputies responded again to the residence and observed fresh entry damage to the home that had been secured since the last burglary. An apartment on the property had also been broken into.
On 03-03-2013, approximately 11:15 p.m. a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy spotted the stolen BMW in the McDonalds parking lot in the 1700 block ofFourth Street, Eureka. Deputies arrested Harley Wayne Hammers Jr. 36 years old from McKinelyville, and Shavonne Patricia Pratt aka Shavonne Hammers, 34 years old from Lakeport. They were both arrested for possession of stolen property and possession of illicit drugs. Harley Hammers Jr. also was arrested on outstanding arrest warrants for possession of illicit drugs. Pratt was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional facility and released on her own recognizance, Hammers is being held on $105,000.00 bail.
This case is still an active investigation and more suspects are being identified. Blue Lake Casino Security is assisting with the investigation by providing and reviewing video tapes. The victims are still providing information on what was stolen.

Photos for both from the same article:

Another link:

Full day jury trials in Humboldt County?

Full day trials in Humboldt County?

Usually, jury trials are held from 8:30 a.m. to noon in Humboldt Superior Court.

There have been afternoon jury trials such as the Benjamin Carter case.

There was some mention this morning during trial assignment about a full day trial in Courtroom 1.

Judge Marilyn Miles had mentioned if the Jason Arreaga jury trial is not on schedule, they would consider going to full days.

On Monday's calendar, only the Jason Warren case is scheduled for Courtroom 4. Could the Warren trial go all days as well? I guess I will have to wait until Monday to find out.

Looks like those restructuring changes at Humboldt Superior Court are starting.

Maggie sure knows how to pick em, another new hire scores win

He has been here exactly a month and one day.

DA Press Release:

District Attorney Maggie Fleming announced today that Waymond Starritt was convicted of felony violations of carrying a concealed dagger and resisting a law enforcement officer.  The charges arose when police attempted to contact the defendant on Church Street on June 20, 2015 at 12:30 a.m.  Starritt, a 49-year-old Eureka resident, fled on foot, discarding weapons and injuring the officer in the ensuing struggle.
The jury’s guilty verdict came after a four-day trial before Judge John T. Feeney.  The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney David Christensen and defended by Deputy Public Defender Luke Brownfield.  An additional allegation that Starritt committed these offenses while out of custody on his own recognizance was also found true by Judge Feeney.
The defendant is already awaiting sentencing on a separate felony case involving his possession of a weapon as well as possession of heroin for sale with prior drug convictions.  He faces a maximum of 17 years for the combination of these and today’s convictions. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 26.

Loved ones to remember Dorothy Ulrich this Sunday on the third anniversary of her death

Family members and loved ones will be honoring and remembering Dorothy Ulrich this Sunday at the memorial site in Hoopa.

This Sunday is the third anniversary of her death.

Court proceedings for the jury trial for Jason Warren, the man charged with Ulrich's death starts this Monday.

EPD catches suspect that broke into sporting goods store on Broadway

On 09/09/15 at about 2:55 a.m., a sporting goods store on the 3600 block of Broadway was burglarized.  The suspect forced entry by breaking a window but was ultimately scared off by the audible alarm.

Officers with the Eureka Police Department released images from exterior surveillance in an attempt to identify the suspect.  Duwayne Best, 37 of Eureka, was identified as the suspect and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

On 09/19/15 at about 1:30 a.m., Eureka Police Officers located Best near 14th and Broadway Streets.  He was arrested without further incident and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on the burglary warrant.  At this time Best remains in custody with bail set at $150,000.  

On cross examination, Shavonne Hammers get tripped up by defense and questions about motives arise

Ms. Heidi Holmquist began her cross examination of Shavonne Hammers by asking her what medications she took and what her medical issues were.

Hammers said she took medications for being bipolar, nerve pain, anxiety and over the counter sleeping medication. She said she had been diagnosed as bi-polar and the pain meds were for nerve damage after a motorcycle accident. She also sees a therapist.

"At the time this happened, the drug of choice for me was meth," said Hammers. She said she did it "everyday but not daily." She told Ms. Holmquist that she could not recall what quantity she did on a regular basis. She said her heavy drug use started in her 30s and that she is "36 today." Shavonne Hammers said that she used to smoke or snort meth but last year she did it intravenously.

Hammers said she is still dating her boyfriend Andrew Asbill and has been seeing him for two years but that last year, her drug use caused problems between them. She denied using heroin when Ms. Holmquist asked her that question.

Then Ms. Holmquist showed Hammers photos of pages and asked if they were her handwriting. Hammers responded with, "It looks like my writing and looks like a notebook."

"Why would this notebook be with your belongings," asked Ms. Holmquist. "

At any point did the doctors take Tramadol away from you?" asked Ms. Holmquist.

"I have only been using it recently," said Hammers.

Ms. Holmquist asked her about using NARCO and again about heroin and Hammers denied the use.

Shavonne Hammers said that she married Harley Hammers "around 19." She said at that time he was a drug dealer and "dealing meth." Shavonne Hammers said they were both "using it." They had problems because when she had a baby, he still was using , she claimed and that she wasn't. She gave guardianship of her daughters to her in-laws and that her son, from another relationship,  did live with her and Harley Hammers for a while.

"What kid wants your mother to use drugs but they love you anyway," said Shavonne Hammers.

She teared up when Ms. Holmquist asked her about what kind of relationship she had with her daughters.

"I apologize for asking you this but is it fair to say that you experienced a lot of violence in your relationship with Mr. Hammers," asked Ms. Holmquist.

"It wasn't just him. I was physical," responded Shavonne Hammers.

She did acknowledge that her jaw was shattered in 2009 as a result of a physical interaction between Harley Hammers and her and that she lied to the police about who assaulted her. Shavonne Hammers said "her kids had women up to him strangling" her.

"I decided to leave him almost 4 years ago," said Shavonne Hammers. She said they were in a stolen vehicle and he "threw the dope and keys in" her lap and she was charged. She went to Lake County because her in-laws called her and told her that her oldest daughter tried to "kill herself because her father and I were not together." Her daughter was 13 when she attempted this. As Shavonne Hammers said this, she looked at her in-laws in the courtroom.

"My husband got another woman pregnant," said Shavonne Hammers. "Another time he left me for another woman." She said Harley Hammers wanted to get back together. "I was hard on him." Asked to explain what she meant by that, she said, "Through our marriage he'd be gone for days." She said he was "not there for our children." But then she said Harley raised her son as his own. She spoke of Harley Hammers in the present tense.

Ms. Holmquist asked her if she ever threatened to kill Harley Hammers. Shavonne Hammers said she could not remember. Then said through the marriage, he threatened her. And she admitted that she said, "I hate you " to Harley Hammers. At this point on the stand, she clarified, she was still married to Harley Hammers.

In response to a question by Ms. Holmquist, she said she did not remember how she learned that Harley Hammers and Angel Tully were dating. Ms. Holmquist showed her a transcript of an interview with HCSO Detectives Todd Fulton and Greg Musson from last year. Ms. Holmquist then read statements from that transcript.

Those statements by Shavonne Hammers were about her feelings about Angel Tully's closeness with her daughters.

"I don't remember the cursing," said Shavonne Hammers. "At first it bothered me but then I moved on." She said that "at first she was not happy that Harley Hammers took Angel Tully to visit with her daughters.

"So you knew they were dating before you came to Humboldt County?," said Ms. Holmquist.

Shavonne Hammers said she did not remember telling Angel Tully that "if she did not back off from her boyfriend and her kids, bad things would happen?"

"She started coughing and blood started coming out of her mouth, she started gurgling."

Before Shavonne Hammers, the People's first witness started her testimony yesterday in the Jason Arreaga case, Deputy District Attorney Zack Curtis showed her a copy of the immunity agreement she had signed on Wednesday, September 23. And she testified what that meant in court.

She said she knew Arreaga because his girlfriend Carly Michaels "used to babysit my boyfriend's grandson."

Her boyfriend Andrew Asbill, who she was living with in Lake County, got into a fight and she said he gave her one hundred dollars to get a ride to Humboldt County. "I asked Jason and Carly for a ride. I was planning to come up to my mother's place."

Hammers testified that the first place she stopped at in Humboldt with Arreaga and Michael's was Angie Ehler's house. "We got high. Angie, Jason and I went to the casino. Carly stayed behind to watch Angie's kids."

Hammers responded to Mr. Curtis' question about Michael's age by saying, "I was told two different ages, 17 and 19." Hammers said she was high on meth that day and that "it keeps me up and makes me lose track of time."  She said Ehlers drove to the casino in her car and she drove to the casino in Arreaga's car. They stayed at the Casino until sunrise. Hammers did not remember where she went to get breakfast. She said Arreaga called her come and "get him from the Casino since security was hassling him for selling drugs."

They headed back to Ehler's place. "There was a drug transaction," said Hammers. "Jason sold Beau some heroin." Mr. Curtis asked Hammers if she was anxious about testifying. She responded, "I'm anxious to testify, period."

They then went to another house belonging to Gary Barrick. She saw Harley Hammers and Angel Tully there. She said Tully was her best friend and they "grew up together and was closer to me than my sister." Hammers said her marriage was very abusive. They were homeless a lot of the time. "He cheated on me a lot. It wasn't a very good marriage at the end of it." Hammers said that Tully took care of her son while she was homeless. The friendship ended when "Angel had an affair" with Harley Hammers.

Shavonne Hammers calimed that on facebook Angel Tully had threatened to beat her up. "I told her to get out of the car and she needed to get her ass kicked."

She said Harley Hammers asked Arreaga and her to move their car or he was going to "ram it."

She said he did not do that, instead he got out of his vehicle. She said Arreaga's car was behind Harley Hammers vehicle and in front of Harley Hammers car was a garage. She said "two shots were fired by Harley's feet. " She said she did not see a firearm because "my focus was on my husband."

Shavonne Hammers said she had never seen Arreaga with a firearm. "I told Mr. Arreaga what are you doing. That's my kids' father." She said she did not know if she could use the exact language she used that day in court.

She said they left and so did Harley Hammers and Angel Tully. They went back to Ehler's house. "Jason was getting high and asked me if I wanted to get high. I said no because we were going to see my son and my mother. "

She said they went to her mom's place and her brother was outside. Some words were exchanged, she described it as sibling rivalry. Her son asked her if she had been drinking. She told him that she only had a beer. Her son called her a liar and said that is where he gets it from. This upset her. She said she pushed her son down on the couch.

Arreaga, Michaels and Shavonne Hammers left her mom's place and she wanted to go back to Lake County.

They went to the liquor store near the Safeway in McKinleyville. She bought alcohol and cigarettes. She saw someone she knew from school, Jerry Bachus and he asked her if she wanted to "go to Angie's and get high with them."

Shavonne Hammers said they went back to Ehler's house and she tried to "straighten up the trailer so they could get high inside." She said Arreaga and Michaels were outside and that she was drinking alcohol and "her pills were taking effect." Hammers said she was "not feeling well and laid back down in the back bedroom. Carly came in and said she has something in her hand and is going to hit you." Shavonne said she thought Carly was referring to Angel Tully. "I didn;t have anything in the trailer to defend myself."

"I heard two pops and it scared me," said Hammers. "I wasn't really with it. All I heard was two. I walked outside. The silence was eerie. It was quiet. No ruckus. Nobody around. Didn't see Jason or Carly. I walked towards where vehicle was parked. I had seen Angel lying on the ground with a bit of blood in her mouth. I thought she had got knocked out."

"She started coughing and blood started coming out of her mouth, she started gurgling. she started choking." While she was testifying about this, Shavonne Hammers started crying on the stand. Angel Tully's sister who has been at almost every court hearing, put her head down when she heard this testimony.

"Did you do anything to help her?" asked Mr. Curtis.

"Yes, the only thing I did was to pull her to her side so she wouldn't choke. Her eyes were locked with mine and she kept making awful sounds. I watched her eyes go from a normal color to a glossy color." After this Hammers broke down on the stand crying.

She said Tully's body was behind Arreaga's vehicle. "I saw Jason and Carly in my peripheral. I remember him stating there is nothing you can do for her. Jason told us to get in the car. I said you can't go. You will run over her. Mr. Arreaga pulled her like a rag doll. Just yanked her like it was nothing towards a tree."

Shavonne Hammers said she did not see Harley Hammers or Jerry Bachus but "his vehicle was still there."

Arreaga looked shocked and surprised at some of Shavonne Hammers testimony and would turn and whisper to his attorney, Ms. Holmquist.

Hammers said she did not recall who put gas in the car once they had left the crime scene. "I told him you are going to get caught. They will put out an all points bulletin. I asked him what happened. He told me he shot them because they were coming at him in a threatening manner."

She said they went near the River bar and changed clothes and washed the "blood off her." Did not remember if "Carly" had any blood on her. " Hammers said that "Carly had been using drugs, meth and heroin in Lake County," not sure what Michaels may have used in Humboldt County.

Hammers said they burned their clothes in a fire pit and that Arreaga said they were not leaving until dark "because he wanted to burn the clothes and did not want anyone to see smoke."

She then described what happened when law enforcement pulled them over. "The way they were following us," she said they knew they "were being followed by an undercover cop."

She said Michaels was asleep in the backseat and after law enforcement did not get any response from her, "they grabbed her legs and ripped her out of the vehicle."

One suspect arrested, two flee the scene in Bridgeville marijuana bust

On Wednesday, September 23, 2015, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office along with the Department of Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), served two Humboldt County Superior Court Search Warrants on two parcels in the Bridgeville area near McClellan Mountain. When deputies arrived on scene they contacted two individuals, arrestee Jose Guadalupe Silva-Valencia, age 31, and a second individual who fled the scene. A third individual was later spotted and fled the scene as well.
During the course of the search warrant, deputies confiscated the following items:

• 2,043 growing marijuana plants ranging in size from 4’ to 15’ tall
• 1,146.4 lbs of drying marijuana
• 20.4 lbs of packaged marijuana buds
• $11,000 in cash for possible asset forfeiture
• A firearm
• Three vehicles plus a generator
Silva-Valencia was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for the following charges:

• HS11358 – Plant/Cultivate/Harvest Marijuana
• HS11359 – Possession of Marijuana for Sale
• PC12022(a)(1) – Involve Firearm: Armed or Not
• PC182(a)(1) – Conspiracy: Commit Crime
• HS11366.5(a) – Knowingly Rent/Etc. For Storage
His bail has been set at $50,000. Warrants will be sought for the two suspects who fled the scene once they are properly identified.

The weakest link in the People's case is Shavonne Hammers; key witness against Arreaga or his key to not guilty?

Yesterday, after opening statements ended. Half the morning session was devoted to testimony by Shavonne Hammers, who was married to one of the victims in the Jason Arreaga case and the woman responsible for bringing Arreaga to Humboldt County.

Her testimony and cross examination as well as brief redirect and recross took up most of Day 2 of the Arreaga case. Three HCSO deputies testified today about arriving on the scene, finding the victims as well as securing the scene and gathering evidence.

Despite Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis' detailed questioning yesterday and attempt to rehabilitate Hammers on re-direct, Ms. Heidi Holmquist, who represents Arreaga, was able to raise reasonable doubt about Hammers' role in the death of the two victims and she was able to impeach Hammers' credibility in a very effective cross examination.

Hammers own demeanor which switched depending on who was questioning her as well as her selective "I don't remember" attitude with both attorneys fed into the claims raised by Ms. Holmquist in her opening statements. She is not a credible witness or believable. In her testimony yesterday, Hammers said her son told her he learned to be a good liar from her. That sums up well how she comes across.

During re-direct, Mr. Curtis asked Hammers if she was uncomfortable testifying today and asked why. Hammers claimed it was because there was a man present today who had allegedly threatened her on facebook. Even though that man was being cooperative, he was asked to leave the courtroom for the rest of Hammers' testimony. On cross by Ms. Holmquist, Hammers undid Mr. Curtis' beneficial attempts during redirect and sunk her credibility further.

Some of the inconsistencies in Hammers' testimony. In opening statement s both Mr. Curtis and Ms. Holmquist called Harley Hammers her ex. Shavonne Hammers in her testimony on the stand decided to reveal that they were still married “at the time “ (last year in September 2014). 

Shavonne Hammers said that Angel Tully was going to hit her according to Carly Michaels. Mr. Curtis said Hammers decided to fight Tully which is accurate according to Shavonne Hammers own testimony that she was looking for something to defend herself against Tully. In her testimony yesterday, Shavonne Hammers said that Arreaga yanked Tully's body and moved it towards a tree. Today, two HCSO detectives, the first officers to arrive on the scene said that Tully's body was found near a car.

When confronted with her own testimony discrepancies, Shavonne Hammers had selective amnesia.

Now Arreaga's girlfriend Carly Michael's testimony as well as testimony by others can impact either the prosecution or the defense's case.

I will have detailed posts of Hammers testimony on direct and cross examination later today.

Jason Warren jury trial a go for September 28

Monday is a hearing on a motion to admit prior evidence. Jury selection expected to start late next week.

Sep 24, 2015

"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."

"Mr. Curtis just gave you a summary of the case," said Ms. Heidi Holmquist, who represents Jason Arreaga. "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."

"911 responded to a call on September 3, 2014 in Fieldbrook. They found Gary Backues with blood on him standing over a deceased female, Angel Tully. Harley Hammers was found in his truck. A felony traffic stop was conducted September 4. Carly Michaels was passed out in the backseat."

"I'm not arguing about the gun found in the compartment of Mr. Arreaga's car. At all times be looking at reasonable doubt."

"During trial you will hear Jason Arreaga is not from here. You will hear Carly and Chavonne did huge amounts of meth. A month before the murder Chavonne attempted an overdose and was almost committed to a mental hospital. She broke up with her boyfriend."

Ms. Holmquist described Chavonne Hammers as "desperate."

"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."

Ms. Holmquist said that Chavonne Hammers' clothes were not collected and that law enforcement did not look for other suspects.

She pointed out that the victim was Chavonne Hammers ex-husband, how her own family did not want her around. "You will hear violence she experienced from Harley Hammers. Mr. Arreaga did not have a motive. Ms. Hammers did."

"As she testifies, notice how she downplays her role. Other witnesses will contradict her.I ask you to look at what makes sense. This incident happened one year ago. She has had plenty of time to get herself together. The DA's office has granted her immunity for her testimony in this case which they need to prosecute Mr. Arreaga. "

Ms. Holmquist said that the witnesses in this case are using meth, heroin, marijuana, alcohol and she asked the jury to focus on their motivation.

"Mr. Arreaga is an easy person to blame in this case. He is an outsider and a large man. No one is going to testify they saw him commit a crime unless it is a surprise on the stand."

"Mr. Arreaga is not a perfect person. He was using and selling drugs for money for this trip. He may not be making the best decisions at that time but that does not mean he killed someone."

"What happened on September 3 was a horrible crime. It is upto each of you to decide whether Mr. Arreaga is responsible for this crime."

Harley Hammers is upset with Mr. Arreaga; Ms. Tully is upset with Chavonne Hammers. Somewhere in there they start to advance towards Mr. Arreaga, he shoots Angel Tully in the chest and he shoots her again."

"I am going to tell you a story," is how Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis started his opening argument in the Jason Arreaga jury trial. "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."

"It starts out in Lake County with Chavonne Hammers. She is in some sort of a program for drug addiction. She has friends in lake County and also in Humboldt County. Gets kicked out of the drug program and decides to come to Humboldt County. She talk to a friend of hers, Carly Michaels, a teenager, whose boyfriend is Jason Arreaga. He agrees to drive her to Humboldt County for a hundred dollars. Carly Michaels, Chavonne Hammers and Jason Arreaga drive up to Humboldt County. They drop Ms. Michaels off at a trailer while Mr. Arreaga and Ms. Hammers drive to Blue Lake Casino. In the next two days, they move back and forth. Very confusing what they did. Different stories from different people. They drive back and forth from Arcata to the Safeway in McKinleyville. In Blue Lake Casino, Ms. Hammers decides she has a drug contact. She takes Mr. Arreaga's car, picks up Ms. Michaels, does the deal and they go back to Blue Lake Casino to pick up Mr. Arreaga. Then they go to Fieldbrook. While they are there Ms. Hammer's ex shows up with his girlfriend. The relationship between the ex and Ms. Hammers is contentious. Ms. Hammers has a grudge because Ms. Tully is dating her ex. Ms. Hammers decides to fight Ms. Tully."

"Ms. Tully drives car towards Mr. Arreaga's car. Mr. Arreaga is upset because it is his dad's car. He fires two shots into the ground. Ms. Michaels and Mr. Hammers drive away. The next place Ms. Hammers took Mr. Arreaga and Mr. Michaels was Ms. Hammer's mom's place. Mr. Arreaga and Ms. Michaels are not from here. Chavonne Hammers is introducing them to people. Ms. Hammers has alcohol on breath, she is not supposed to be drinking. Son is upset with Ms. Hammers. She is on psych meds. Ms. Hammers, Mr. Arreaga and Ms.Michaels go to Safeway in McKinleyville. Ms. Hammers buys alcohol. She runs into Gary Backues. They go to Angie Ehlers's house. Mr. Arreaga and Ms, Michaels don;t want to go because everywhere Ms. Hammers is there is drama.  Gary Backues shows up at Angie Ehler's house."

Mr. Curtis then described the layout of Ehler's house and the surrounding area.

"Lot of people come and go. Angie Ehler takes off. People are using drugs. At some point Angel Tully and Harley Hammers show up. Harley Hammers is upset with Mr. Arreaga; Ms. Tully is upset with Chavonne Hammers. Somewhere in there they start to advance towards Mr. Arreaga, he shoots Angel Tully in the chest and he shoots her again."

"Harley Hammers advances towards Mr. Arreaga. He shoots Harley Hammers. Harley retreats. Mr. Coons is driving by, he sees Arreaga pointing a pistol at Harley Hammers. He hears one more shot, , Harley Hammers drives off back to his residence into a pile of debris and collapses [on the bench seat of his pickup]."

"Mr. Coons goes to Mr. Hopkins house across the street. Mr. Hopkins calls the police. They are over in a few minutes. In the meantime, Mr. Arreaga, Ms. Michaels and Ms. Hammers move Ms. Tully's body out of the way and drive off in a car. Mr. Backues sees Ms. Tully bleeding and tries to give her CPR. Another couple tells him she is gone and they take a jacket from Mr. Backues vehicle and put it over Ms. Tully's body. Two kids riding bikes heard shots fired. They go towards the scene. They see a man running across the street. They see Ms. Tully with blood coming out of her mouth. They decide to get out of there."

"Mr. Arreaga, Ms. Michaels and Ms. Hammers are driving on 299. Ms. Michaels is the only one without blood on her. She gets out to put gas the car. They burn the bloody clothes, wash the dog and wash themselves in the river. They drink some more. Ms. Michaels takes meds and passes out"

"They decide to go back to Lake County. They are by South Eureka. The police run the license plate. The car comes up as one of interest in a murder investigation. Mr. Arreaga and Ms. Hammers get out of the car. They try to wake Ms. Michaels up. She wouldn't wake up. The three are taken into custody. Mr. Arreaga denies what happens in Fieldbrook, he denies the shooting."

"A 380 caliber firearm casing is found in the passenger compartment of the Buick car. In the engine compartment in a lockbox, there is a 380 semi-automatic firearm. On the scene, 380 caliber bullet casings were found. The DOJ analyst was on the crime scene and did a ballistic check back at the DOJ. They matched the firearm in the vehicle. Autopsy of both victims was done. Four bullets were found. Cause of death was gunshot wound."

"It's a long convulted road but that is what I expect my evidence to show."

Two psychiatrist evaluations still not in for Bullock, trial for October 13 depends on when that happens

Today, for the fourth time, a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Gary Lee Bullock who is charged in the brutal murder of Fr. Eric Freed.

Judge John Feeney is the trial judge assigned to this case. DDA Stacey Eads was present for the People.

Before his court case was called, I heard Mr. Cockrum tell the bailiff not to bring Bullock down since he is seeing a psychiatrist today.

In court, Mr. Cockrum just said personal appearance was waived.

"Court and Counsel met today. We are still awaiting evaluation and reports from two of the court appointed psychiatrists," said Judge Feeney. The Judge said he "has been in correspondence with the experts."

"For now dates remain set," said Judge Feeney. "Whether we can proceed to trial depends on the status of the doctor's reports." Judge Feeney said they will have a better idea next Wednesday at trial confirmation.

TS' Hunter Cresswell and LOCO's Ryan Burns were in court.

Last post:

Sep 22, 2015

Bullock pre trial continued third time, announced in court just now

A pre trial conference with a special set of 3 p.m. in Courtroom 1 was scheduled this afternoon. It was continued to tomorrow because DDA Eads was not available. DDA Issac works part time and is currently not in the office.

The last court hearing was in a closed courtroom, the one before then was open but only because it was a Visiting Judge and all that happened was the date of September 10 was continued.

The jury trial has been assigned to Judge John Feeney. The case is being prosecuted by DDAs Andrew Isaac and Stacey Eads. Conflict Counsel's Mr. Kaleb Cockrum has been appointed to represent Bullock.

Fr. Eric's sister was in court and found out just as I did around 2:35 when Judge Feeney announced it in court. She walked off upset, which I can understand, this has happened three times now.

Due to the gag order, I can understand why public and press don't know, even though these last minute changes continue in cases with gag orders but to not notify family members of victims when this is happened the third time needs to be addressed.

As I was leaving, Times-Standard reporter Tabitha Soden was walking in and I told her of the rescheduling. No other media was in court.

New standard jury instruction in Humboldt homicide jury trials?

I was kidding with TS' Will Houston and MRU's Paul Mann today while we were waiting for Courtroom 2 to open up after morning recess for the Areaga case that they should have a new standard jury instruction in Humboldt homicides.

Having covered the Eddie Lee, Limmie Curry, Bodhi Tree, Judson Stiglich, Jonas Semore, Jason Arreaga, Gary Lee Bullock cases to name just a few, there seems to be drugs and the whos whos in Humboldt's drug world connected to many homicides. I won't even go into other cases.

The People have to try cases where they risk having witnesses that a jury may not relate to if you have not suffered from drug addiction or homelessness. Those factors alone do not affect if someone is being truthful or a credible witness.

The defense can dig up the criminal past of these witnesses. They can also rightfully raise questions about other suspects and motives.

The drug culture and it's impact on Humboldt isn't new information; by the times these cases end up in criminal courts, it is often too late, for the victims and in some cases, the defendants.

As already reported here on September 16, lack of qualified officers for Hoopa Valley, Sheriff revokes powers

I had reported on this development recently during an interview with Undersheriff William Honsal. Today there was this press release.

HCSO Press- Release:

Roughly twenty years ago the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the Hoopa Valley Tribe entered into an agreement that the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Department will maintain the state standards to enforce state law. Due to the lack of qualified officers to fulfill the Sheriff’s Office mission, the Sheriff has opted to suspend the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and has revoked peace officers powers from the tribal officers as of Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

According to Public Law 83-280 (PL 280), the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for enforcing state laws on tribal lands. As a result, the Sheriff has increased personnel in the Hoopa and Willow Creek areas and by mid-October three additional deputies will be assigned to these areas. This will bring the total number of deputies in this area to six, plus one Sergeant and one Corporal.

The Sheriff has arranged for two community meetings. The first will be on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Hoopa. The second meeting will be on Wednesday, October 7, 2015, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Willow Creek. The Sheriff will be present to address this issue.

The Sheriff is committed to providing enhanced patrol coverage and service to the citizens of Hoopa and Willow Creek. It is strongly encouraged for Hoopa and Willow Creek residents to attend either of these meetings.

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.

Sep 23, 2015

Jason Warren has asked to be excused from the courtroom every time since Dorothy Ulrich's mother has been in court

Hank Seeman and Terri Vroman-Little have been attending most of the Jason Warren court hearings. For the last three court hearings, which span a little over a month, Dorothy Ulrich's mother, Mrs. Shirley Ortega has been in court.

Jason Warren has asked to be excused from the courtroom for each of the last three hearings.

Jason Warren jury trial estimated to last until mid December, thanksgiving week off, some full days

Today, a trial confirmation hearing was scheduled for the Jason Warren case at 4 p.m. He was served with a copy of a document by the People in court today, before he left. Alternate Conflict Counsel's Mr. Glenn Brown is representing Warren in the Hoopa case where is charged with the homicide of Dorothy Ulrich.

If the case gets assigned Friday, it will start Monday in Courtroom 4. While the case has been assigned to Judge Timothy Cissna for trial, the decision if it will definitely start on September 28 depends on how trial assignment goes this Friday. As Judge Cissna explained, "there maybe other higher priority cases."

It all depends on courtroom availability.
During the Warren case, Mr. Brown made reference to a memo about court restructuring. I posted earlier today.

Schedules, witness list and the gag order and freedom of the press was discussed this afternoon.

Time estimate including jury selection is 8 to 10 weeks. Trial is expected to be over by mid-December. The proposed schedule is Monday to Thursday from 8:30 to noon; Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30 to 4 or 4:30 and every other Friday.

Due to court holidays, the trial will not be in session on October 12, November 11, November 26 and November 27.

The best quote of the day was from Mendocino Assistant D.A. Mr. Paul Sequeira, who is prosecuting this case. When Judge Timothy Cissna was going over court holidays, he mentioned Thanksgiving and the Friday after and asked both attorneys if they wanted the entire week or any additional days off. Mr. Sequeira is commuting for the trial. "For marital harmony, I would request the day before Thanksgiving."

Subpoenaed records from St. Joseph's hospital were handed to Ms. Fleming by Judge Cissna to copy for her office and Mr. Brown and originals will be returned to the Court.

Trial assignment is scheduled for September 25 at 8:30 a.m. and motion hearing to admit evidence of prior conviction on September at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 4. The jury trial is scheduled for September 28 with a jury panel scheduled for September 29.

Mr. Kevin Robinson from the Public Defender's office is representing Warren in the Eureka case in which he ialso charged with the death of Suzanne Seeman and attempted murder of severely injuring two other joggers who were with her. Mr. Robinson has not been present for the last three hearings since the case going to trial is the one in which Mr. Brown is representing Warren.

Mr. Paul Sequeira, Assistant DA from Mendocino County, is a special prosecutor for this case. He asked Judge Cissna for specifics of the gag order which was issued before he took the case.  Ms. Fleming also mentioned it was a general gag order and wanted some clarification. Both have received questions from the press. Judge Cissna responded with no comment.

Sep 17, 2015

Jason Warren trial has a Judge and jury panel to start Sept 29

A pre trial hearing for the Jason Warren was scheduled for this afternoon.

Mr. Paul Sequeira, Assistant DA from Mendocino County appeared with District Attorney Maggie Fleming. He is trying the case.

Trial estimate 8 to 10 weeks. Trial schedule to be decided. It maybe full days or the typical Humboldt schedule of 8:30 to noon with a couple of afternoons.

With Courtroom 2 in jury trial for Arreaga, Courtroom 5 in another trial, Courtroom 1 to begin a long trial soon, and Judge Cissna starting a trial, he said that with the Warren case being one that has a time waiver, it may not start exactly on September 28.

Once he receives the witness list, Judge Cissna will see if he has to disqualify himself.

Judge Cissna brought up that while two additional judges are scheduled for Humboldt and an additonal Judge to help out with upcoming trials has been requested by Presiding Judge Joyce Hinrichs, "that has not come to fruition."

Jason Warren did not want to be in court and he was there briefly to formally waive his presence.

Dorothy Ulrich's mother, Mrs. Ortega and Susan Seemann's husband Hank were in court.

Witness lists, motions in limine, whether the trial would be 8:30 to noon or full days are all issues being worked before September 28.

Another court date is on September 23 at 4 p.m.

Mr. Glenn Brown asked that one motion that the people are filing on 1101b evidence be filed prior to September 28 so he can respond.

"Trip" gets busted in Garberville for ammunitions, firearms and more

On 09-23-2015, at approximately 11:15 a.m., personnel assigned to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Garberville Station conducted a probation search at a residence located in the 200 block of Fish Creek Road, Phillipsville.  The resident, Neil Eugene Kemp (aka “Trip”), was the focus of a several month long narcotics investigation.  Kemp is believed to be one of the main street suppliers of heroin to the Garberville, Redway, and other outlying areas of Southern Humboldt.

During the search of Kemp’s residence, deputies located nearly a half ounce of suspected heroin.  Also located were scales, packaging material, two firearms, ammunition, $3,917 in cash, and other forms of miscellaneous drug paraphernalia.

Kemp was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for the following charges:
H&S 11351 Possession of a controlled substance for sales
H&S 11370.1 Possession of a controlled substance while armed
H&S 11364.1 Possession of drug paraphernalia
PC 29800(a)(1) Felon in possession of a firearm
PC 30505(a)(1) Felon in possession of ammunition
PC 1203.2 Violation of probation

Kemp is not eligible for bail at this time due to his probation status.

Local agencies, Eureka and Arcata sponsor 4 part series on what cannabis industry means to Humboldt's economy

Business Leader Luncheons, a four part series on the Cannabis industry and what it will mean for Humboldt's economy is being sponsored by City of Eureka, Humboldt County Workforce Board, AEDC Small Business Lending Center, Humboldt Instirute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, HSU office for Research, Economic and Community Development and City of Arcata.

Tickets and panel discussio  $25. For more information, go to

Jury trial vacated for Murphy's Market grand theft embezzlement suspect

A trial confirmation for Michael Noriega was scheduled for September 22 in Courtroom 2. It was continued at the request of the defense. The jury trial of October 19, 2015 was vacated and a disposition and hearing is scheduled for October 27 at 2 p.m.

Aug 25, 2015

Murphy's market grand theft embezzlement suspect arraigned, jury trial set for October

Today, arraignment on information was scheduled this afternoon in Courtroom 2 for Michael Noriega.

Noriega is charged with grand theft embezzlement and possession of a controlled substance, heroin. These are the same charges as the preliminary hearing. DA Maggie Fleming was in court for the People. Newly hired DDA Dave Christensen was in Courtroom 2 observing with Ms. Fleming.

His attorney, Mr. Casey Russo, from the Public Defender's office said his client is not waiving time.Trial Confirmation is at 2 p.m.  September 22, Trial Readiness is 1 p.m. on October 14 and Jury Trial is October 19 at 8:30 a.m..

On August 12, Noriega, the man charged with grand theft embezzlement at Murphy's Market was held to answer on all charges after a preliminary hearing.

Deputy District Attorney Brie Bennett prosecuted the preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, she presented two witnesses, Murphy's Market Controller and Director of Human Resources, David Breisacher and APD Officer Vincent B'Oconnor.

Noriega was suspected of embezzling after discrepancies showed up on a computer report and his usage of the safe transaction feature on the Sunnybrae location was reviewed. He is being represented by 

Previous post (with background):

I heard it through the court grapevine

You have been reading about the backlogs, the backups in paperwork, trials and preliminary hearings being continued. According to the court grapevine or court water cooler, some restructuring being looked at for the local courts to alleviate the issue.

In the meantime, criminals keep committing new crimes and getting arrested again before you can even say arraignment.

Crescent City post office supervisor under investigation for alleged theft of prescription drugs

Excerpt from the Triplicate article:

A supervisor at the Crescent City post office is under investigation for theft of prescription drugs from coworkers and area veterans, according to court records.
Hollie Maready, 39, is suspected of using her position as supervisor of customer service for the U.S. Postal Service to steal pharmaceuticals from packages, coworkers, and private homes.
Maready hasn’t been charged with any crime.

Read the full story, here is the link:

$30,000 bail for Bethany Pacheco who allegedly vandalized the mirror of her boyfriend's car and pinched his arm causing bruising

On 09-20-2015 at approximately 6:20 PM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the Wildwood Campground in Fort Bragg, California to investigate a reported domestic dispute.

The investigation revealed that Bethany Pacheco had vandalized a mirror from a car belonging to her boyfriend and that she also pinched the backside of his arm causing visible bruising.

Pacheco was on Mendocino County probation for a previous theft related offense.

Pacheco was arrested for domestic violence battery and violation of probation.  Pacheco was booked into to the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Bench warrant out for pizza van, machete wielding suspect; not a surprise

From LOCO's booked:

Yesterday, 12:33 p.m.

It was reasonable that I thought this was the pizza van machete wielding suspect who was released. 

Turns out his father has the same name and the same middle name, the son's name is listed both ways in the court computer system. 

I contacted EPD and they have arrested a Charles Kesserling III, now we wait to see whether this is the father or yet another Kesserling .  The dude who is the suspect charged in the pizza van robbery is Charles Kesselring IV.

I contacted DA Maggie Fleming.  Ms. Fleming clarified that the son is still in custody. Her response via email. 

As is sometimes the case, father and son have the same name.
The C. Kesselring we have been dealing with related to the attack on the pizza delivery person remains in custody.

Previous posts:

Colorado man and NY man arrested with 22 lbs of weed and $60,000 cash

On 09-19-2015 at approximately 12:49 AM a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic enforcement stop on a speeding vehicle traveling southbound on Highway 101 in the 7600 block of North Highway 101 in Redwood Valley, California.

When the Deputy contacted the occupants, Robert Mandato (driver) and Henriquez Richar (passenger), the Deputy detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

A Mendocino County Sheriff's K-9 handler Deputy arrived on scene to assist and utilized his  K-9 partner "Doc” who alerted on the rear of the vehicle.

A search of the vehicle was conducted and approximately 22 pounds of processed marijuana was located inside the vehicle’s trunk.  Additionally, approximately $60,000.00 in U.S. currency was located as well.

Mandato and Richar were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail for the listed violations and were to be separately held in lieu of $50,000.00 bail.

Sep 22, 2015

Peter Martin loses appeal against City of Eureka over prayer lawsuit

Link to appellate courts.

The Appellate court dismissed and ruled against Carole Beaton and her lawyer Peter Martin in their appeal of Judge Watson's decision to uphold and allow invocations before City Council meetings.

Eureka City Frank Jager said, "We won this one."

Link to my community comment on KINS on this topic.

Link to TS story on the lawsuit.

Excerpt from decision:

Filed 9/21/15  Beaton v. City of Eureka CA1/1

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b).  This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. 




            Plaintiff and Appellant,
            Defendants and Respondents.


      (Humboldt County
      Super. Ct. No. DR130058)

            Plaintiff Carole Beaton sued the City of Eureka and the city’s mayor, Frank J├Ąger (collectively, the City), claiming the City’s policy allowing persons to offer invocations or prayers at council meetings violates provisions of the California Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.  She appeals the trial court’s order granting the City’s motion for summary judgment and finding the City’s written invocation policy to be valid.  While this action was pending, the City replaced the contested invocation policy with a new one, purportedly based on a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Because the policy plaintiff challenges in this appeal has been rescinded and replaced, we conclude her appeal is moot.  We therefore dismiss the appeal.

I asked local attorney Allan Dollison to elaborate on California Rule of Court 8.1115 (a). He said, "This means the case will never be published which means that it cannot be relied upon by others in Court for precedent. Since it was dismissed as Moot, which literally means the controversy or practice complained of no longer exists such as the Court of Appeals did not need to make a decision thus they punted. A dismissed appeal as moot is of little precedential value because it is unique to the facts of this case. On the other hand, the Plaintiff can claim credit as being the inciting factor for the change that ultimately got the appeal dismissed."

The best fight isn't at Blue Lake Casino and it's free!

You should check out Rose's latest post Cage Match. And click on the two opponents' names for extra.

Best graphic of the day! Link includes comments section.

The difference with DA Maggie Fleming mentoring and training new hires and being visible on the second floor is a refreshing change

District Attorney Maggie Fleming is right there in court, mentoring and overseeing training of the new hires. Co-workers also help them out and all the new hires have taken over courtrooms and cases quickly.

That is what a boss should do. Train, help, motivate.

Maggie is there every Friday at trial assignment. She is often on the second floor checking in on the courtrooms and her staff. She is available for questions; accessible to the public and media.

The staff are also very accessible and approachable and more relaxed. This is a refreshing change.

Bullock pre trial continued third time, announced in court just now

A pre trial conference with a special set of 3 p.m. in Courtroom 1 was scheduled this afternoon. It was continued to tomorrow because DDA Eads was not available. DDA Issac works part time and is currently not in the office.

The last court hearing was in a closed courtroom, the one before then was open but only because it was a Visiting Judge and all that happened was the date of September 10 was continued.

The jury trial has been assigned to Judge John Feeney. The case is being prosecuted by DDAs Andrew Isaac and Stacey Eads. Conflict Counsel's Mr. Kaleb Cockrum has been appointed to represent Bullock.

Fr. Eric's sister was in court and found out just as I did around 2:35 when Judge Feeney announced it in court. She walked off upset, which I can understand, this has happened three times now.

Due to the gag order, I can understand why public and press don't know, even though these last minute changes continue in cases with gag orders but to not notify family members of victims when this is happened the third time needs to be addressed.

As I was leaving, Times-Standard reporter Tabitha Soden was walking in and I told her of the rescheduling. No other media was in court.

Board of Supervisors settles lawsuit with HumCPR

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors today agreed to settle a lawsuit filed in April 2012 by Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights regarding the county’s practice of “shading” parcels. The settlement will allow the county to avoid the time and expenses associated with trial, and instead focus on providing services to Humboldt County residents. In September 2011, in an attempt to resolve the shaded parcel issue, the Planning Division sent letters to individuals who owned parcels of land where the legal status of that parcel was uncertain. These parcels were “shaded” in parcel-map books or otherwise noted in county records to indicate that a parcel’s compliance with the Subdivision Map Act is unknown. This lawsuit was filed in the spring of the following year. According to the settlement, the county: • has ceased its former practice of “shading” parcels and will not perform this practice in the future; • will finish reviewing the parcels that received “shaded” parcel letters in September 2011, and will notify parcel owners whether it determined their parcel to be lawful; • will, after reviewing the parcels for compliance, maintain a publically available list of parcels for which the county is unable to resolve its compliance status; • will notify owners and carry out appropriate action when it acquires knowledge that property has been divided in violation of the Map Act. The settlement also agrees that neither party needs to admit liability on this issue. The issue of who bears responsibility for attorneys’ fees will be submitted to the court for resolution.

Missing man from New Mexico located and is fine

On Monday, September 21, 2015 at approximately 5:45 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received information from the Willows Police Department that they made contact with missing person Dale Ryan Silvey. Silvey did not require any further assistance from law enforcement.

Mike Downey

On Saturday, September 19, 2015 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing person from New Mexico. The reporting party called stating her son, Dale Ryan Silvey was on a trip to Eureka, CA to pick up property and return it to New Mexico. The reporting party stated Silvey left New Mexico on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, and she last had telephone contact with him on Thursday, September 17, 2015. Silvey does not have a cell phone and has been using other people’s phones to contact the reporting party. Silvey was last seen driving a dark blue Ford F350 crew cab with New Mexico plates.
Silvey is described as a white, male, adult, 34 years old, 6’1”, 180 lbs, with blonde hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a dark colored t-shirt, dark colored shorts, and a camouflage hat.

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.

Board of Supervisors give Measure Z Funding to Eureka and Fortuna to combat drugs and homelessness

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors today approved contracts with the cities of Fortuna and Eureka regarding Measure Z allocations. The contracts describe in detail the actions to be carried out by the agencies receiving funds from Measure Z, the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in November. Three other Measure Z contracts were approved in August.
The City of Fortuna’s allocation of $125,000 will fund a full-time police officer assigned to the Humboldt County Drug Task force. The task force is a multi-jurisdictional group that has been in existence for more than 20 years. It is comprised of local law enforcement agencies that dedicate staff to combat mid- to major-level narcotic offenders in all jurisdictional boundaries of the county.
The City of Eureka’s Measure Z application for $400,000 included a portion for homeless support services. The city will receive $242,200 for two police officers to work with the county’s Mobile Intervention and Services Team (MIST), which is a collaboration between the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). The MIST team works specifically with people who are homeless and need help stabilizing their mental illness and securing services and assistance they need to avoid further problems.
Per request of the City of Eureka, the remaining funds meant to fulfill the objectives described in the city’s application ($157,800) will be transferred to DHHS, which administers housing-related programs and should have the ability to quickly secure homeless support services like rental housing and alcohol and drug services. Specifically, the funds will provide the following services:
• $30,160 for permanent supportive housing, which will provide rental subsidies at 70 percent, while the client pays 30 percent;
• $82,640 for alcohol and drug residential treatment, which will provide a 30-day treatment program and three to seven days of detoxification services;
• $45,000 for rapid re-housing, which typically provides $1,000 per household for security and utility deposits, and some periodic rental support.
In an effort to clearly show how each agency is spending Measure Z funds, the outside agencies will submit quarterly reports and itemized invoices to the county. These materials will be made available on the county’s website

Knock on the door results in alleged assault of Scotia man

On Friday, September 18, 2015 at approximately 6:45 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a male victim, age 64, bleeding and his attacker has fled.  The victim stated he was at his residence on North Court, Scotia, when he received a knock at his front door and there stood an unknown male subject.  The male suspect forced his way into the victim’s residence and brandished a firearm at the victim stating he would shoot him.  A struggle ensued and the victim stated he was able to obtain a knife he had nearby and stabbed the suspect. The victim stated another male suspect entered the residence and took the first suspect out of the residence.  The suspects fled toward the rear of the victim’s house.  The victim received a small injury but declined medical attention.
The first suspect is described by the victim as a white, male, adult, approximately 30 years old, 5’8”, with a scrawny build, and having dark hair.  The second suspect is described as a white male adult with light colored hair.

Deceased female in Redwood Community Forest from Tennessee, reason to be in Humboldt unknown

On September 10, 2015 the Arcata Police Department received a report of a deceased female located in the Redwood Community Forrest. After a thorough investigation by the Arcata Police and the Coroner's Office it was determined that the cause of death was suicide.

At the time of death, the deceased had nothing on her person that would indicate her identity. Fingerprints were taken and submitted to the local and FBI fingerprint identification systems. On September 21, 2015 the Coroner's office was notified that the FBI fingerprint identification system had positively identified the deceased female as Sarah Anne Walsh, age 25, from Crossville, Tennessee. How Sarah came to be in Humboldt County is still under investigation.

The next of kin have been notified and funeral arrangements are being made.