Jul 31, 2015

"We only have so much time, we need to deal with what is on calendar today"; Jeremy Kish pushes his luck with the Judge and gets called on his court shenanigans

Yesterday afternoon a CON-REP report was scheduled to be heard in Courtroom 2 for Jeremy Kish, suspect in the arson of the former Arcata Alliance market, among other charges he has racked up.

Conflict Counsel's Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis represents Kish, despite Kish's frequent efforts to fire his lawyer. At yesterday's hearing, Mr. David Lee subbed in for Mr. Elvine-Kreis.

Kish is in administrative segregation, keeps racking up charges in the jail, some of which he has yet to be arraigned on since criminal proceeding were suspended at the last court hearing.

This is from the last court hearing. "The defendant is not currently competent to stand trial," read Judge Bob McNatt from Dr. Wilson's report. "While he understands the nature of his proceedings, he is not cooperating or assisting his attorney in a,rational manner." 

Dressed in his red jumpsuit, Kish was escorted by two bailiffs. The red suit looked dirty like he had been wearing it for days. His mouth and head covered by netting and a face mask, he did his usual drama of summoning his attorney and talking about his dog and unrelated matters before his case could be called.

In consideration for all the other cases on calendar and people waiting, Judge Miles had no patience yesterday for Kish's shenanigans. He kept interrupting while his case was being called and dealt with, this is not new, it is typical. Judge Miles said, "I'm not dealing with any other issues other than the CON-REP report. Mr. Kish, I am going to ask you not to talk. We only have so much time, we need to deal with what is on calendar today. Your attorney can come and talk to you and put other matters on calendar."

Finally his case was called. "All nine of Mr. Kish's files are relevant to his competency determination and CON-REP report," said Judge Miles.

Then looking at the minutes of the July 14 hearing, Judge Miles had some concerns. I was at that hearing and it seems some information did not make it to the minutes. Visiting Judge Bob McNatt subbed for Judge Miles that day and his name was still listed in the court system as being the Judge for yesterday's hearing. "The minutes in 3 cases do not say he is incompetent, nothing was suspended. Arraignment did not proceed."

This was addressed by DDA Jackie Pizzo who asked Judge McNatt what should happen about the three new cases. At that hearing, due to Dr. Wilson's report, Kish was found not competent to stand trial and not arraigned on those cases because all crimonal proceedings were suspended in other cases.

Judge Miles said that "the three last cases should have CON-REP not mental health. There is no report appointing a psychiatrist to evaluate Mr. Kish for anti-psychotic medications; we need that for the commitment order."

Then, Mr. Lee spoke privately with Kish but Kish is si loud that even with the face mask, I could hear him go off tangent about other stuff and he said, "I don't take medications right now."

Mr. Lee then told Judge Miles that initially there was a finding of competence, until we had the new report. "Yes, we want criminal proceedings suspended in all cases." Then Ms. Pizzo and Mr. Lee asked that Kish was "declared incompetent." and asked this apply to three new cases.

Judge Miles orally modified that the referral was COn-REP and not from Mental Health and a psychiatrist was appointed to evaluate Kish regarding his ability to take anti-psychotic meds and whether he has the capacity to consent.

On August 11, there is a motion from County Counsel regarding animal control. From Kish's rantings in court, he was mumbling about that his dogs were "let go" and he kept referring to Judge Miles' "pet order." Have to wait until August 11 to see what are the facts. On August 13 at 2 p.m., Kish's placement status will be reviewed.

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Another suicide at the Humboldt County jail?

Just got a tip. Calling to get more information.

Just spoke with HCSO Lt. Wayne Hanson and he said there was another attempted suicide and that he will be sending out a press release this afternoon.

Press Release:

On 7/30/15 at 6:40 p.m. a 35 year old male inmate was returning to his housing unit from seeing a nurse. As the Correctional Deputy was returning the inmate to his cell the inmate ran from the Correctional Deputy and up a flight of stairs.

At the first landing between the top and bottom tiers the inmate climbed over the railing and jumped, landing on his right side The Correctional Deputy immediately called for an emergency response. Correctional Deputies and medical staff arrived on scene and rendered first aid treatment until EMS arrived on scene.

The inmate was alert and responsive, complaining of back pain. The inmate was transported to St Joseph’s Hospital via an ambulance. The inmate was treated at a local hospital for a broken outer ring of his pelvis, due to the fall.  The doctors at the hospital said the break would not require surgery and the inmate was later transported back to the Correctional Facility.

The inmate is currently housed in a cell in the medical area of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility . The inmate is being monitored by medical and mental health staff.  The inmate is on suicide watch with 15 minute cell checks.

The inmate was brought into custody on 07-28-2015 for two misdemeanor warrants for his arrest for theft related charges.

DA's motion for continuance in gross vehicular manslaughter case continued for input from victim's family; defense counsel tries to negotiate Lockhart's release to agree to DA's continuance

The District Attorney's office  filed a motion to continue in the David Lockhart case. That motion was to be heard yesterday afternoon at 2 p.m. There was also an intervention hearing scheduled for 3 p.m. today in Courtroom 2 that was vacated after the matter was continued to August 3rd at 2 p.m..

Mr. Russ Clanton, who represents Lockhart addressed the Court yesterday and told Judge Marilyn Miles, "We tend to accommodate continuances if there is no prejudice. In this case, we oppose because he is in custody and will remain there for 30 days while the officer is on vacation. We would reconsider, if People will reconsider custody status and release Mr. Lockhart."

Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo responded that, "While number of members of the victim's family were present, Mr. Patrik Griego who represents the family, was not informed of this motion until she contacted his office that day. I don't think the issue of Mr. Lockhart being in custody is prejudice, more inconvenience."

Judge Miles then said that current dates will remain and the matter is continued until the "People properly notify the victims' family." She said she would not make a decision without their input.

Judge Miles also handed some papers to Mr. Clanton that no one was aware had been subpoenaed but were in the file with a sticky note with this name. There was also clarification on the record that there had been no attempt to subpoena the officer, just that he is on vacation.

The current preliminary hearing date is August 6.

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Jul 3, 2015

David Lockhart charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in 101 incident hires private attorney and wants a change in custodial status

David Lockhart is charged with a felony: homicide with the count of gross vehicular manslaughter and death of multiple victims.

When he was arraigned in May, he was led away in cuffs in front of the victim's family and friends. "What a difference this new DA has made," is what one of the victim's friends told me outside court that day. They are very pleased with DA Maggie Fleming and her office's handling  of the case. 

The Baker family, who lost their loved ones, have hired award winning and top criminal defense attorney Patrik Griego to represent them. Mr. Griego was also in court with the family.

A disposition and reset hearing was scheduled for July 2. Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo is prosecuting the case and Conflict Counsel's Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis had been appointed as Lockhart's attorney. Lockhart has retained a private attorney, Mr. Russ Clanton. In local cases that are recent, Mr. Clanton is represented Timothy Littlefield and Judson Stiglich.

Mr. Clanton tried to get another hearing on Lockhart's custodial status saying his "ciircumstances had changed." Judge Marilyn Miles informed him that OR/ Bail was denied on May 29 and that just because Lockhart gets a private attorney, he does not get another chance for OR/Bail and that he was charged with a serious crime of vehicular manslaughter but Mr. Clanton could file a motion for "change of circumstance." An intervention hearing is scheduled for July 30 at 3 p.m. and the Preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 30. 

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Local grants available to reduce crime, recidivism from Humboldt County Corrections Partnership

If you provide local services that reduce crime and recidivism, you may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 from a new grant being offered by the County of Humboldt. The Humboldt County Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) will begin accepting applications for this new grant on Saturday, Aug. 1. Read the proposal and submit your application here.
Last year, the Board of State and Community Corrections allocated $8 million state-wide for the Community Recidivism Reduction Grant. Under the guidelines, counties are eligible to receive funds if the Board of Supervisors, in collaboration with the county’s CCP, develops a competitive grant program intended to fund services that reduce crime and recidivism. Humboldt County received $50,000 for this purpose and will award up to $10,000 to five or more applicants.
The goal of this project is help individuals refrain from engaging in crime, reconnect with their family members, and contribute to their communities. Specifically, this project aims to serve those who have been released from the state prison, a county jail, a juvenile detention facility, and who are under the supervision of a probation department; or any other person at risk of becoming involved in criminal activities.
To be eligible, applicants must be a nongovernmental entity or group that serves the above-described population and provides services to reduce crime and recidivism. Recidivism refers to an individual's relapse into criminal behavior, especially after they have already served a sentence for a previous crime.
Examples of ways that entities provide these services include:
Self-help groups• Individual or group assistance with basic life skills
Mentoring programs• Academic and educational services
Job training skills and employment• Truancy prevention programs
Literacy programs• Homelessness prevention
Reentry services
Proposals for this grant must be received by the Humboldt County Probation Department by Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. Grants will be awarded by Sept. 9.

For more information, contact:
Bill Damiano, Chief Probation Officer

Jul 30, 2015

Humboldt Consequential's commenter ken d nails it!

Commenter ken d over at the Humboldt Consequential blog on the post on Jacqueline Debet's departure nails it!


Humboldt Consequential is the delish-ly diabolical new local blog whose latest post on Debets made me miss the Humboldt Mirror, even more so.

ken d's comment:

Nothing against Ms. Debets, I don’t know her and certainly wish her the best. However, perhaps this is a good time to re evaluate whether her position and others similar at both the City and County are cost effective and/or even needed. As we know most levels of government are top heavy with high paid management, while not enough people with common sense are actually getting the work done.
The City of Eureka, by wringing their hands with all these public meetings at the Warfinger on what to do with the 3+ acres of waterfront property that they own is laughable. First of all, a public entity like a City or County shouldn’t own any real estate except for perhaps the City Hall or the County Courthouse that they actually occupy. Most, if not all real property should always stay in the hands of private individuals or entities, if for no other reason that they are the only ones who pay the property taxes. This particular property has been vacant and a blight on the waterfront for 30 + years and by now the City has demonstrated that they do not have the expertise to develop it.
According to the Time Standard article the other day and during one of the aforementioned public meetings on what the City should do with this parcel, someone with a modicum of common sense mentioned selling the property. What a concept? First of all, the City could definitely use the money and secondly, they wouldn’t have to waste all this time having their employees and high paid consultants attend all these idiotic meetings on what should be built there. A private individual would and should take the risk on what would work at that location and the City should butt out except to approve the zoning and building plans.

I am posting a comment from Jeff Katz who used to live in Humboldt.

"John, go ahead and post this, I  don't have an open account to post it.

 A friend of mine who used to be in a very high position at the county once tried to inventory the number of properties the county of Humboldt owns; somewhere between 75-100 parcels! The county is broke, the city is broke, fire stations are closing, the real estate market is the best its been in years, why not sell?  The city of Eureka has had study after study of the waterfront property over the years.As I recall, Pierson looked at that parcel to build an Embassy Suites hotel years ago. Bottom line: Government should get out of the property business altogether, and get those parcels SOLD, tons of strong, talented, qualified local people up there in Humboldt (Pierson, Danco, Strombeck, Pacific Builders to name a few).   F St. Balloon Tract, C Street, the old co-op building on 1st St, prime real estate both privately and publicly owned. 10 years from now it will still be vacant I predict, sadly.  When I lived in Eureka, among the many committees and commissions I served on was 6 years spent on the Eureka Housing Advisory Board including 2 years as chair., Sincerely, Jeff Katz

A taste of BIM, Caribbean style food and bar to open at former Avalon Eureka location

The front part of the former Avalon restaurant location has been home to Praxis fitness for a while. Now the back room, famous for private parties and catering is getting a facelift and it will be a new bar and restaurant. The liquor license application says a taste of BIM. A few people have met the owners.

It is not Korean food as some have speculated, what I have heard is that it will be Caribbean style food.

Two defendants plead guilty, one proceeds to preliminary hearing in crow killing case

DDA Adrian Kamada responded via email and this is the outcome of the crow killing case.

Co-defendants Jeffrey Malast and Timothy Ross each plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges. One count of animal cruelty [PC-597(a)], and one count of unlawful taking of wildlife [F&G-2000]. On these convictions, the court granted Mr. Malast and Mr. Ross probation for three years, which includes the statutory required behavioral counseling, plus 25 hours community service work and fines.

As for co-defendant Scott Humphrey, the case will proceed to a preliminary hearing.

EPD gives some additional details on Old Town Coffee break-in

From EPD's Brittany Powell:

EPD was called at 7:24 a.m., for a burglary report.  It was to the storage shed in the common hallway to the rear of the business.  Beer, wine, a scale, grinder, and approx.. 200 pounds of coffee were stolen.  No suspects and no video surveillance.

Help EPD and Old Town Coffee and Chocolates catch these crooks; check LOCO link for details


Jul 29, 2015

Marissa Carlson arrested again is an understatement

Marissa Carlson was arrested in the hammer and bat incident. Click the link to Kym's blog for details, http://kymkemp.com/2015/07/29/update-on-yesterdays-early-morning-assault/

She will be arraigned, Mr. Kaleb Cockrum will most likely be appointed to represent her, then what?

May 15, 2015

Marissa Carlson tells her attorney she wants to blow this joint but her criminal past foils her plans

This afternoon Marissa Carlson was in Courtroom 5. The District Attorney's office filed "a first amended petition to revoke her probation" from an older case in 2014 and she also had a OR/Bail hearing on the new charges from 2015.

Carlson animatedly spoke with her attorney Mr. Kaleb Cockrum privately and it was loud enough to gather she wanted out of the Humboldt County jail.

DDA Roger Rees told Judge Joyce Hinrichs to deny the request because "the charges are serious and she has a number of failures to appear in the past case."

Judge Hinrichs agreed and declined to release Carlson on OR due to the "potential danger to the community and concerns for public safety."

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May 12, 2015

Just saw her be released in court and here she is back again,

I sat in court and watched Marissa Carlson be released and here she is back in court again.

12 criminal cases in various stages, some resolved, traffic cases, failures to appear and bench warrant.

Just another typical day for Humboldt law enforcement, courts dealing with the same frequent offenders.

Press Release:

On 05/12/15 at about 5:27 a.m., Officers were dispatched to the 1500 block of 15th Street for the report of two suspicious females.  The caller said the females knocked on the door and when confronted said they were looking for a friend’s house.  The females then walked across the street and were seen checking gates and windows. 

Officers located Marissa Carlson, 25, and Jeannine Griffith, 30, both of Eureka, near the location of the incident.  Carlson was positively identified and was arrested for attempted burglary and probation violation.  Griffith was arrested on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for possession of a switchblade knife.  Both were transported and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.

If you dont see Rex around much for the next two weeks, here is why

He is taking some personal time to volunteer for a church mission in Thailand.

I teased him and said, so you volunteer your time for several causes in the local community, in addition to your job, and this is your idea of a vacation.

Kidding aside, good cause, and wish you and your fellow missionaries well. This is a mission organized by the Faith Center in Eureka.

Church Mission on Human trafficking .Facebook.com/thailandteamfairhcenter for more info

Jacqueline Debets resigns and moves to Auburn?

Two reliable sources indicate that Jacqueline Debets, County's Economic Development Director has resigned and is moving to Auburn.

Stay tuned for more. I will update this post. Awaiting a call back from Ms. Debets.

At 10:30 today, I spoke with Ms. Debets. She did confirm she has a new job with the Community Development agency for the County of Placer. She will be working on a property near the Sunset area intended to be an industrial park, she said. "I will be the lead working with developers" to obtain financing and develop infrastructure.

Her last day is August 14.

"Humboldt County is my home. I am a fifth generation native. I will always love it. Humboldt County has been very good to me. I have been able to do some wonderful work. There is a lot in the works right now. The staff here will pick it up. We need a team to go after grants again, as they are available. It takes a lot of energy and vision to go after grants; not just go after money, but grants that fit the need of our comunity."

"There needs to be colloboration with the Prosperity Center. The City of Eureka has stepped up to economic development in a meaningful way."

Photo from Eureka Rotary:

Jul 28, 2015

Crow killing case results in a settlement of a misdemeanor

An intervention hearing was held today for the  case below. The settlement for was a misdemeanor for Jeffrey Malast and he got counseling pursuant to Section 597 of the Penal code, according to his attorney Allan Dollison. Scott Humphrey who is Ken Bareilles's client's case did not resolve that day. Discussions are still going on and Humphrey is trying for an infraction. Timothy Ross's case settled and he was booked and released from jail on 7/29. Trying to confirm whether that is due to SWAP.

I am awaiting a response from Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada for further details and clarification.

May 5, 2015

Connection between Rodney Ortiz and a man currently alleged for shooting crows and disposing of them in a chipper

I was looking into a case in Humboldt Superior Court. I learned from an unnamed source that two of the defendants are former employees of California Redwoods Korbel Mill. The State of California may also be pursuing action in this case which involves shooting crows and disposing of them in a chipper.

The charges in Humboldt Superior Court are killing, maiming, torturing and mutilating an animal as well as unlawful hunting and maiming.

Jeffrey Mitchell Malast is represented by Allan Dollison, Scott William Humphrey by Ken Bareilles, both private attorneys. Timothy Evert Ross is being represented by the Public Defender's office.

Next court date for a motion hearing to file an amended complaint is on May 21 at 2 p.m in Courtroom 5. There is a disposition and reset hearing set at 2 p.m. on June 4.

This same unnamed source claims that after the Hoopa shooting, Rodney and Vincent Ortiz went to the house of Timothy Ross twice before being arrested. The same source said that Rodney Ortiz and Timothy Ross worked together at the Korbel Mill.

Preliminary hearing for William Jarnaghan, Hoopa softball coach charged with 6 counts of sexual acts against underage female victim set for September 29

A disposition and reset hearing for William Jarnaghan was scheduled this afternoon in Courtroom 5.

All alleged counts are against a female victim under 18 years old. Counts 1,2 and 3 are felonies. Sexual penetration/Foreign object PC 289 (h). Counts 4,5 and 6 are misdemeanors. Annoying/Molest a child under 18 years. PC 647.6 (a)(1).

He has been served with a criminal protective order, had to give up firearms, if convicted he will have to register as a sex offender.

Deputy District Attorney Brie Bennett has been the prosecutor present in court for the case. Today, DDA Kelly Neel was present for the People. Mr. Neal Sanders is representing Jarnaghan, who did not have to be in court today because he signed a 977 waiver of personal appearance form.

Intervention is set for September 17 at 3 p.m. and Preliminary hearing is set for September 29 at 8:30 a.m.

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Motion to continue in Stiglich case granted, new jury trial date is August 31

Judge Marilyn Miles said that "good cause had been shown" and granted the DA's motion for continuance in the Judson Stiglich case. Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo was present for the People. Mr. David Celli appeared with Stiglich.

Jury trial is August 31, Trial Assignment is August 28 and Trial Readiness is August 26 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2.

Few of Ryan Robinson's family were there. Stiglich was not aware of the court hearing until last night and his family did not know of the court hearing until today when they read my earlier blog post so his family and friends could not make it to court in time.

My post from earlier today:

The District Attorney's office filed a motion on July 21 to ask for a continuance in the Judson Stiglich case.

Motion will be heard this afternoon in Courtroom 2 by Judge Marilyn Miles.

Stiglich is charged with shooting Ryan Robinson.

Leah Jarnaghan fails to appear in court, bench warrant issued for $50,000

Today in Courtroom 5, Leah Jarnaghan was scheduled to be arraigned a felony, child abuse endangerment with possibility of great bodily injury and reckless driving.

She has been convicted of child endangerment before. See second link below.

Despite a signed promise to appear, she failed to show up for court. A bench warrant was issued by Judge Joyce Hinrichs in the amount of $50,000. Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel was present for the People.

Private attorney Christina Allbright was out of the courtroom when the case was called and when she came back later, they had finished with the case. She informed Judge Hinrichs that was supposed to make a special appearance for Jarnaghan this afternoon.

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A message for Jane Doe #1 from John Kufner's grand-daughter who took the risk to share this on a public forum

John Kufner's grand-daughter contacted me after my previous post where others shared some information. We have been talking for a while, she has been following the trial. She has read the verdict.

I will not be using her real name.

Ed is my grandfather. When I was about 5 years old, Ed was moving me to my father's in Virginia from California because my mom didn't want me anymore. And he took me and my brother to Virginia. He used to drive a little pick up truck. He would want to me touch the gear shift to feel the vibrations. And when me and my brother would fall asleep in the truck, he would have me sit in the middle. My brother is 2 years younger than me. I could feel him putting his right hand inside my pants, and underwear. First rubbing. Then penetration with his fingers. I couldn't understand why or what he was doing, I just knew it was wrong. I didn't have the nerves to tell anyone till a couple years later after it happened. My grandma was the only one who believed me. I went through counseling and talked to a detective and everything. But for some reason the detective didn't want to push the case any further. I remember someone having to come talk to me while I was in school in the counselors office playing with dolls and they would ask me where he touched me, and I would point on the doll. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about what happened. Still have serious mental issues over it. And I know its been about 10-11 years since it happened to me, and I know if it happened to me it has happened to many many many other girls, and/or boys. I just pray that this case goes the way it needs to to protect everyone from him. And I know for me, it will help heal me cause I know that he will be punished for what he has done. And for the other girls, they will grow up and it will help them to know that they were listened to and was being protected by law enforcement like law enforcers are supposed to. Cause I know living all these years knowing he is running around free as a bird, I have feared that he may try to come after me for telling, and I feared for other girls as well. I pray for the girls involved in this case and all the other girls out there that has been hurt by this man. I just couldn't believe that he had done what he has done to other girls the same exact way he had done to me...

Thank you so much for your time.

Three jurors in Kufner case share why they arrived at not guilty verdict

The jury was comprised of seven women and five men. A handful of them stayed to talk with attorneys, staff and me.

I spoke with three jurors, two women and a man.

The first woman juror said, "It was 100 percent not guilty on all counts. From day one, the first three we agreed on, there was one lady who was leaning guilty on assault" but eventually they all agreed unanimously on the verdicts.

They arrived at their decision due to "lack of evidence and lack of testimony."

"There was no CAST interview shared with us, no results of SART exam, Jane Doe and the mother seemed to be on drugs."

"We believed something was there but there was reasonable doubt" due to the way the case was presented.

The second lady juror said, "The DA did a terrible job, he did not present a credible case. Mr. Kufner presented himself very well. The little girl and her mother were not credible. It's a shame because we will never know.

"Mr. Kufner made an effort to take care of the girls. From him to be waiting 10 months in jail, that's a shame."

The gentleman juror basically said the same things.

Jury in Kufner case returns not guilty verdict on all counts

The jury in the John Kufner case only started deliberating at 9:30. At 9:45, the attorneys went in. At 10:13, the courtroom opened.

Kufner was found not guilty on the count charged of continuous sexual abuse and not guilty on lesser counts of lewd and lascivious acts, battery and assault. He whispered thank you to Mr. Russo.

Preliminary hearing for Lindsay Kaminsky, woman charged with allegedly stabbing her husband continued upon defense request

An intervention hearing was scheduled last week in Courtroom 2 for Lindsay Kaminsky. She is being represented by private attorney Manny Daskal. DDA Kelly Neel is prosecuting the case.

At the last court hearing, Mr. Daskal who was substituted as Kaminsky's attorney instead of her court appointed attorney said "we hope to make substanstial progress in this case" by the next court date, and then referred to this intervention hearing.

Intervention did not result in a resolution last week. The preliminary hearing was scheduled for today, July 28.

No reason was stated on the record, defense requested a continuance this morning during assignment calendar. People did not object. DDA Kelly Neel is the prosecutor on this case.

Kaminsky had waived 10 days, today she waived 60 days. Intervention is on August 6 at 3 p.m. and the new preliminary hearing date is August 13.

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Motion to continue filed by DA in Judson Stiglich case

The District Attorney's office filed a motion on July 21 to ask for a continuance in the Judson Stiglich case.

Motion will be heard this afternoon in Courtroom 2 by Judge Marilyn Miles.

Stiglich is charged with shooting Ryan Robinson.

Benjamin Carter found guilty, sentencing on September 4, another win for DDA Roger Rees

Yesterday Benjamin Carter was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sentencing is on September 4 at 1:30 in Courtroom 6.

There is a special allegation to the count charged P 667 b (i). This will add three years to Carter's sentence. That code applies when someone has been convicted previously of one or more serious/violent felonies.

Only two jurors stayed behind to talk to the attorneys.

DA's press release (sent right now):

On July 27, 2015, in the case of the People of the State of California v. Benjamin Carter, the jury found the defendant guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The defendant admitted a special allegation that he had previously been convicted of a strike under California's Three Strikes law. 

The charge arose from incidents that occurred on April 16, 2014.  On that day, the defendant obtained a shotgun from Zackery Chapman. Later, Mr. Chapman attempted to get the shotgun back from the defendant; Mr. Chapman was armed with a pistol when he arrived at the defendant Carter's location in Southern Humboldt. Mr. Chapman pointed the pistol at several people, including the defendant, who was holding the shotgun.  The defendant fired one shot at Mr. Chapman, killing him. Although the defendant was initially charged with murder, it was ultimately determined that the shooting was justified.

In addition to three civilian witnesses, Investigator Cheryl Franco of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department testified at the trial.

Deputy District Attorney Roger C. Rees prosecuted the case with assistance from District Attorney Investigator Marvin Kirkpatrick and Victim/Witness Advocate Marybeth Bian. The defendant was represented at trial by Michael Acosta, a local defense attorney. The Honorable Christopher Wilson, Judge, presided over the six-day trial in Humboldt Superior Court.

The scheduled sentencing date is September 4, 2015. The maximum sentence for this crime and special allegation is six years in state prison. Because the defendant has a prior strike, he must serve 80% of his sentence before being paroled.

"Law enforcement is not on trial, what law enforcement did is not germane to whether Mr. Kufner touched Jane Doe #1 inappropriately."

Mr. Curtis gave his rebuttal argument right after Mr. Russo's closing. "Mr. Russo said that the defense does not have to prove anything, that's true. The prosecution has to prove, the prosecution brought evidence."

"Mr. Russo brought up a lot of stuff about the DA and law enforcement." Then Mr. Curtis said there was so much to address.

Law enforcement is not on trial, what law enforcement did is not germane to whether Mr. Kufner touched Jane Doe #1 inappropriately."

"You heard from Ms. Baxley (DA Investigator) about the CAST interview. She testified about her training. CAST is done so the minor victim does not have to state traumatic experiences over and over again."

"A surprise interrogation is done for a reason. You don't give a suspect time to think up a story."

"Did the removal of the snippets in context change their meaning in any way. You will have the entire interview, you can listen to it. Have I in any way changed the evidentiary meaning?"

"Mr. Russo talks about her troubled past. It is difficult for me to say. Her father died, her mother went crazy. Which brings me to bedwetting that Mr. Russo is so interested in, children sometimes bed-wet. In this case, there were plethora of reasons that she may have wet the bed. I don;t see how bedwetting is even an issue. Mother said she was able to change herself. It is a bit much to say that she lay in bed all night long."

"There are a number of people Jane Doe did not disclose to, CWS, CASA. You have to look at it from Jane Doe #1's perspective. This is the first time she has had stability. Her little sister is very happy. Mr. Kufner takes care of them. In all of this whirlwind, there has only been one person who has been consistently there, Jane Doe #2. She will go where Jane Doe # 2 goes. Children make a trade-off. I'm being molested versus stability. She disclosed when she felt safe to do that."

"Just because it has not been reported doesn't mean it did not happen."

"As you are deliberating, focus on the evidence you have."

"How is Jane Doe going to hold accusations for a year and a half just on a suggestion from her mom?"

Is the defense going after a 9 year old, now 11, who is the alleged victim of sexual abuse by a 62 year old man reasonable doubt?

Mr. Casey Russo, who represents Kufner started his closing on Wednesday, July 22 and it was for half an hour and continued the bulk of it for over an hour on Thursday, July 23.

On Wednesday, the gist of Mr. Russo's closing was that the investigation by the DA's office and law enforcement  was " seriously incomplete." He raised the question by asking why it took 6 months to arrest Kufner and that given Jane Doe's "troubled past", she was "acting out."  A lot of his closing was points raised in his opening. 

Three-fourths of Mr. Russo's closing was about Jane Doe. She was a very credible witness and by his focus on Jane Doe, the defense showed their hand. 

"What is the People's case? I already talked to you about Jane Doe #1 yesterday. It is important to go through what we learned about Jane Doe."

 "We learned that: Jane Doe's mother is a drug addict and mentally ill; we learned that she left Jane Doe with her father at a young age, we learned that she moved into a trailer park at age 7, then her father died". 

Mr. Russo brought up the motels and Jane Doe's mother having the girls living with other men. This was disputed by Jane Doe's and her mother's testimony and there was no independent evidence other than Kufner's allegations about these concerns in any other testimony.

Mr. Russo brought up the bedwetting and said that this "problem had been addressed by Kufner and and not the mother." Again, the pediatrician's testimony says otherwise, that both Kufner and mom brought her to the doctor. 

Mr. Russo said the "mother abandons them again" and then the girls came to live with Kufner. The girls were living with their dad, then with their mom and while Kufner helped them out, the mother did not leave them with Kufner and disappear until she had a complete breakdown after her ex husbands death. Even the mother testified how Kufner helped them out.

In contrast to Mr. Curtis' opening, where he played the exact testimony to back up his remarks, the defense closing could have used actual testimony, and not just opinion. In fact, at one point, Judge Timothy Cissna sustained an objection by DDA Zach Curtis that Mr. Russo's closing "was not evidence" and then Mr. Russo ceded this was his argument.

"Jane Doe now has food, shelter, toys, clothing, stability," said Mr. Russo. "There was no report of discomfort, no report of abuse, no report of fear." Mr. Russo said that CWS and CASA supervised the girls while they were living with Kufner.

Then he brought up that there was no investigation of who Jane Doe # 1 told the accusation about Kufner touching her. She testified to that on the stand.

"I want to talk about children as witnesses in general."

"It was heart breaking to see Jane Doe testify. I said that yesterday."

"Children have problem remembering. They are prone to suggestion, They have problems with authority. They do not understand the gravity of the situation."

"There is a big difference between 20 times and daily."

"The reason she is not a better historian because she is not telling the truth. Mr. Curtis will say that she was not looking at Mr. Kufner because she was scared; it is because she is not telling the truth. It is reasonable doubt."

"Then we have (name of Jane Doe's mother). From what we heard, she is an absolute mess."

Other than that, the defense did not go after Jane Doe's mother and used only select portions of her testimony that were favorable to Kufner. 

"She had nothing but kind words to say about Mr. Kufner"; "She had doubts about Jane Doe's # 1 accusations. This is not evidence, this is my argument based on how she testified."

Mr. Russo brought up that the mother said that Jane Doe #2 did not believe Jane Doe #1. "That is reasonable doubt." What the mother testified to was that initially Jane Doe #2 did not believe Jane Doe #1 and explained why.

"The prosecution wants to make the interrogation the focus of their case because they have a weak case." Then Mr. Russo said "law enforcement only spent a couple of hours, didn't investigate. This is not an open and shut case, it's complicated."

Mr, Russo brought up that Kufner was not read his Miranda rights but Sgt. Sam Williams explained that Kufner was not in custody or being arrested, which is the reason they did not read him his rights.

"You can take snippets of what he (Kufner) said and make it suspicious." but Mr. Russo did the very same with Jane Doe, her mother's and law enforcement's testimony.

Mr. Russo ended with saying there is reasonable doubt and "there are reasonable alternatives to Kufner's guilt"

"It is difficult for a child to express how a molestor is feeling"

"In a case like this, there is no map, no physical evidence," is how Deputy District Attorney Zack Curtis started his closing remarks to the jury in the John Kufner case. "The power point is the elements of the crime. This is not law, this is attorney's remarks. The law comes from the Judge. These are my remarks about how the facts apply to the case, the evidence comes from the witnesses."

The first point he addressed was continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14:

The defendant lived in the same home or had access to the child. "Mr. Kufner lived in the same house as Jane Doe from April 2012 to July 2013."

The defendant engaged in three or more lewd or lascivious acts with a child. "Here, I think there will be a little dispute. According to what Jane Doe said, he touched her in her private parts, he used his hand and that is different from when he touched her in one state."

"As to under the age of 14, the child was under 14."

There were three or more acts. "Detective Williams didn't remember the exact CAST interview, he said 20 times. We have to bear in mind that this is a child, she indicated the best she could. This is a child under 11 years old, there was not a great part of the time when he did not touch her. She said he touched her daily and then modified not every time. He pushed her underwear aside and put his fingers inside. He touched her private parts."

"Jane Doe # 1 is still not 14, she was born in 2003, she is pushing 12."

The second point he addressed was three or more lewd and lascivious acts. "Any willful touching with intent to sexually arouse the child or the perpetrator. Intent is key. Touching of private parts is important. Contact with the child's bare skin is not required."

"Jane Doe said he took off her pants/underwear; his private parts touched her private parts, you can come to the conclusion that the times he touched her, the touch was lewd and lascivious."

He then went onto "wilful." Mr. Curtis reiterated what Judge Cissna had said that the prosecution is not required to prove that the defendant intended to break the law, but that he did it on purpose.

In his presentation, the definitions and statements that Mr. Curtis used were exactly the words of the law and closing instructions the jury had just heard minutes before and it was very effective, especially when he used it with examples of the testimony.

"You need to agree that continuous sexual abuse occurred over three months, you do not need to agree on the three acts."

Regarding "ongoing', Mr. Curtis again, said that "it is not expected that the complaining victim will remember the specific of each circumstance."

Then he went over the elements of lewd and lascivious acts and said they were "similar to continuous sexual abuse."

"Any touching may suffice, bare skin or clothing." He stressed intent, again. Used an example of someone with a foot fetish touching the foot to arouse himself. "It is difficult for a child to express how a molestor is feeling. I don;t have to provide evidence of actual sexual abuse."

Referring to "consciousness of guilt", Mr. Curtis brought up how false statements apply to this case. "Mr. Kufner admitted on the stand he made a false statement. If the defendant made false statements before the trial intending to mislead, you can consider this as evidence of guilt."

"The question is what evidence do we have?"

"The defense will dispute Jane Doe, say he said, she said. There was one pretext call, one law enforcement interview."

"What was Mr. Kufner's response to initial allegation? It is easy when you have a year and a half to come up with a story, maybe not easy but he had a chance."

Mr. Curtis then played a part of the pretext  call where the mother says, "She (Jane Doe) is just adamant that it was wrong." Kufner is silent, the mother asks, "Are you there?" Kufner says, "Yeah, I'm here." Mr. Curtis pointed out, "long pause, no answer."

"What camping trip. We went on several camping trips. That is not the response of an innocent person."

Then he played a part from the law enforcement interview where Detective Cheryl Franco questioned Kufner and she asked him how come he only talked about Jane Doe #1 and not Jane Doe #2. Kufner's response is that in the phone call, the mother only mentioned Jane Doe #1.

"First of all is that (statement) reality?" said Mr. Curtis. Then he played a part of the pretext call where Kufner says Jane Doe # 2 had rash. Then he played a part where the mother specifically asks Kufner if he only slept with Jane Doe #1, but not Jane Doe #2. Mr. Curtis said there were four mentions of Jane Doe #2 in the pretext call.

Then Mr. Curtis pointed out in the law enforcement interview, Detective Franco asks if both girls were wearing diapers and Kufner goes immediately to Jane Doe #1. The detectives asked about baths/showers/bunk beds and if Jane Doe # 2 also had "problems with bedwetting."

Mr. Curtis played snippets of the law enforcement and pretext call. Again, Mr. Curtis told the jury that Kufner does not talk about Jane Doe #2, he only talks about Jane Doe #1.

Mr. Curtis used the long pauses and silences in the pretext call and law enforcement interview he played point to Kufner "pondering answers. After three denials, he thinks he remembers."

Mr. Curtis said that in law enforcement interview, Kufner says yes to "rubbing on her (Jane Doe #1). when asked how long were you rubbing on her, he then changes his response."

Mr. Curtis said that Kufner showed emotion and brought up Kufner's statemement that his body betrayed him "by waking up in bed with her like that."

Mr. Curtis said that "states of altered consciousness" is a defense Kufner uses. "He makes excuses that he was either asleep or drugged up on meds." He then played part of the pretext call where Kufner says, "Unless I touched her in my sleep."

"At time of law enforcement interview, Mr. Kufner had no idea what evidence we had. he is just throwing stuff out there to cover whatever we had."

"He doesn't remember any bad activity that might cause him a conviction."

The jury in the Kufner case has three options if they vote for a guilty verdict: continuous sexual abuse, lewd or lascivious acts or battery

The jury in the John Kufner case, in which there has been alleged sexual abuse by Kufner and the victim is his foster child, started their deliberations on Thursday, July 23, the jury returns to deliberate today,  Tuesday, July 28. Courtroom 4 was closed Friday and Monday.

I waited to post closing arguments until this morning. There was daily coverage of the trial on this blog and can be accessed via the search feature or scrolling through the posts in the last month, the first one being July 3. The references to the testimony in closing are in the detailed posts.

Before Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis started his closing argument last Wednesday in the John Kufner case, in his closing instructions to the jury Judge Cissna said, "the following crime requires general criminal intent." To find a person guilty of the crime charged, wrongful intent is required.

Kufner  is charged with recurring sexual conduct, PC 288.5 (a). The complaint alleges that there was "continuous sexual abuse" and that Kufner "engaged in three or more lewd or lascivious acts with Jane Doe, a child under 14 years". According to the complaint, he resided with and recurring access to the child.

Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis is prosecuting the case. Mr. Casey Russo from the Public Defender's office has been appointed to represent Kufner.

If the jury does not find Kufner guilty of "continuous sexual abuse, then they can  find him guilty of the lesser offense of lewd and lascivious acts or the lesser offense of battery or not guilty on all counts.

Jul 27, 2015

October 10 is the new date for Jason Armstrong charged with the homicide of Daneyal Siddique

Future dates for Jason Armstrong : 9/21 2pm for Trial confirmation and 10/5 for jury trial.

Jul 24, 2015

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:


Phoenix Campbell sentencing continued to August 17, victims not present in court

 On June 29, 2015, in the case of the People of the State of California v. Phoenix Campbell-Loya, the jury found the defendant guilty of felony assault with a deadly weapon and felony carrying a concealed dirk or dagger.

The case was prosecuted by DDA Roger Rees and Campbell's attorney was Ms. Meagan O'Connell from the Public Defender's office.

The first link has all the background of the case, including the DA's press release. I was the only one to cover this case daily and the links on this case are below.

Today, Ms.O'Connell requested that the sentencing be continued. When she met with Campbell-Loya, she had still not received the probation report and requested time to meet with him. The sentencing will take place August 17.

The victims were not present in court. Campbell-Loya's mother who attended the trial was in court along with his dad, aunt and grandmother to show their support.

As difficult as it has been for Campbell-Loya's mother to be in court, she exemplifies grace and courtesy, especially towards media coverage of this trial and I want to publicly thank her for being such a lady.

Previous posts:


Jul 26, 2015

Jack's Seafood on Eureka's waterfront grand opening August 14


The link above gives you information on the new restaurant.

This is from the site:
Jack’s Seafood will be a casual-fine dining restaurant and bar that provides locally sourced seafood with a touch of Asian influence. Our Korean style BBQ will bring new flavor to Humboldt! Located at 4 C Street, we are situated directly on the Eureka waterfront- where beautiful views of the bay surround our building and offer the the perfect setting for lunch or dinner. Our grand opening is steadily approaching.

In November, I did a post and "broke" the news.

Nov 26, 2014

Jack Wu of Bayfront and Ritz to lease space in Fisherman's Terminal Building?

Agenda item: DEC 2 Eureka Council meeting

Authorize the City Manager to enter into a lease agreement for CafĂ© Space in the Fishermen’s Terminal Building with Jack’s Seafood.

Proposed tenant is Jack Wu. I have a call in to him to confirm but there is only one Jack Wu, who opens restaurants locally. I hope they approve this item.

I saw Jack later at the City Council meeting and he confirmed then that he is the owner. How time flies. The City of Eureka pitched in money for building improvements.

Jack is one partner of the Bayfront Restaurant in Eureka.

Other articles on Ritz that Jack formerly owned:



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.