Jan 30, 2015

Ryan Robinson's family stares at Judson Stiglich's family; preliminary hearing set for February 17

Today's OR bail hearing and disposition reset hearing was more like a soap opera.

Families staring each other down, confusion about what happened, Judson Stiglich's private counsel Russ Clanton claiming to be unaware of what his own office requested at the last court hearing.

End result Judson Stiglich's bail remains set at $300,000 and he remains in custody. Preliminary hearing is set for February 17 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 2.

Mr. Clanton wanted bail reduced, DDA Stacey Eads who is prosecuting the case wanted bail increased. Both families in a lot of pain and each with their own perspective.

While we were waiting for the Stiglich case to be called, both his family members and the victim's family members were in court. Stiglich smiled at his family members who were in court before victim's family .When Ryan Robinson's family came in to Courtroom 2, wearing RIP Ryan shirts, they glared at Stiglich's family.

The case got moved last minute to Courtroom 2 instead of Courtroom 4. I had checked on my own, and headed to Courtroom 2 well in advance. Judge Timothy Cissna announced the change so Will Houston from the Times-Standard came over as did Stiglich and Robinson family members. The only one who claimed he didn't  know was Russ Clanton whose office represents Stiglich and this is what he told Stiglich family members in hallway and later told Judge Marilyn Miles. Because Mr. Clanton was not in court when Stiglich's case was initially called, Stiglich's case was called after drug court.

While Will and I were in the hallway since all the courtroom seats were filled with drug court attendees Mr. Clanton told the Stiglich family they could go home, if they like. He said "basically I will make a pitch for him to get out of jail but that's not going to happen. I am looking forward to the preliminary hearing. That is when I get to cross-examine people and I can bring up self-defense."  He mentioned someone named Jennifer was avoiding and the office was trying to get hold of her.

All this was in the hallway with him being aware Will and I could overhear his conversation.

The real soap opera started once we were in the courtroom. Things were so tense that each family sat on separate sides of the courtroom and there were two extra bailiffs when this case was being heard. Robinson's mother and another family member were crying inside the courtroom.

When the hearing started, it was stated on record that time has been waived in the case. Bail was set at $300,000. Mr. Clanton did not ask for Stiglich to be released on OR. Instead , he requested that Stiglich's bail be reduced to an amount that he could make and that his client would make all future court appearances.

 Judge Miles looked at the charges and the bail amount and came up with presumptive bail being $150,000. She read some rules, wondered why bail was set at $300,000. Ms. Eads said that Ryan Robinson's mother "had very strong feelings about Stiglich being released and personal concerns" and wanted to address the Court, she had also written a letter. She asked the Court if Mrs. Robinson could speak and then the People would present their reasons for opposition to reducing bail.

Judge Miles then pointed out that the Court first decides about OR and then decides about safety concerns and since Mr. Clanton was not asking that his client be released on OR, that had already been denied. She also said that at this hearing they were addressing bail, there would be other opportunities for Mrs, Robinson to provide input.

At this point, the People interjected instead of reduction, they wanted an increase in bail to $500,000. Mr. Clanton objected saying he needed notice. Judge Miles said she didn't realize there were going to be issues. She had also just received the file and the case last minute. She looked at the rules and basically, score Ms. Eads, loss Mr. Clanton because if the police are requesting a bail increase, they have to give a written declaration but once in court, either the prosecutor or the defense can "ask for departure from bail."

At this point, Mr. Clanton said he waived the hearing, he wanted to address this in motion. He also pulled the time waiver in the case and wanted a date set. Mr. Clanton kept saying that this was the first time he had appeared. Which is true but his office was represented at the other hearings.

It was very frustrating to sit in the audience and Will and I both looked at our notes and we were present at the other court hearings. It was Mr. Clanton's office that requested the OR hearing today. It was Mr. Celli, who works with Mr. Clanton, that had the preliminary hearing vacated.

At this point DDA AJ Kamada who was in Courtroom 2 for the regular calendar whispered in Ms. Eads ear. It was determined that Judge Joyce Hinrichs had set the bail at $300,000. Judge Miles then said all the Judges were basically one court, she cannot change Judge Hinrich's decision.

Kudos to Judge Miles for her patience in clearing the confusion which would not have been necessary had Mr. Clanton  talked with his office and been prepared for a case before he comes to court. At the last hearing, Mr. Celli was prepared and coherent in his request. Kudos to Ms. Eads who knows the law and kudos to Mr. Kamada for communicating with his co-worker. The only loss is certain defense attorneys who don't have Paul to make deals and don't get to run the courtroom anymore.

Links below give background on the case, preliminary hearing.

Previous posts:


With 33 court cases, five previous criminal cases Judson Stiglich, suspect in the death of Ryan Robinson is no boy scout

Judson Stiglich, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter of Ryan Robinson, has a OR Bail and disposition reset hearing scheduled today in Courtroom 4. He is being represented by private counsel, Mr. David Celli. The case is being prosecuted by DDA Stacey Eads. His preliminary hearing for January 26 was continued due to outstanding discovery, including defense not having the police report.

The victim's family was present for the last court hearing. They sobbed outside the courtroom.

Stiglich is no stranger to law enforcement. He has 33 cases in the system, while most are for traffic offenses, he has prior criminal cases in which he was charged with robbery, drug offenses and now this recent case.

I took a quick look at his cases and in detail at two cases. In the last two cases, he was only convicted of a felony: robbery and another felony: drug offense.

Will any of this have an effect on his bail hearing and release today?

Previous post:


Jan 29, 2015

Hoopa shooting victim in stable condition, lookout issued for suspect

On 01-28-2015 at about 5:15 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office along with the Hoopa Tribal Police Department, responded to a shooting that had just occurred on Alameda Drive, Hoopa off Highway 96.

When Officers arrived on scene they learned a male victim age 57 had been shot once with a .22 caliber rifle. The male victim was air lifted to a hospital in the Redding area. The victim is currently listed in stable condition.

During the investigation officers learned two females had got into a physical fight with each other prior to the shooting. Those two females then separated from each other. One of the females, who has been identified as Frances Ellen Billy age 40 armed herself with a .22 caliber rifle.

Billy for unknown reasons shot the male victim with the rifle and then fled the scene. Billy is described as a Native American female, 5’-3”, 120 pounds, brown hair with brown eyes. The Sheriff Office has issued a Be On the Lookout (BOL) to other law enforcement agencies to arrest Billy for attempted homicide.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s office is considering Billy armed and dangerous. This case is still under investigation.

Jan 28, 2015

Criminal justice reform brings together unlikely alliances


$100,000 bail set for "Creeper" aka Anthony Burgess who responds "Oh F...k" when criminal gang association charge is read

Today, Judge John Feeney appointed Ms. Heidi Holmquist, from the Public Defender's office, for Anthony Manuel Burgess. He read the charges during this arraignment hearing, which are listed below.

Bail was set in one case for $50,000 and the other for $100,000. When the criminal street gang association charge was being read, Burgess said, "Oh Fuck." Ms. Holmquist "waived OR without prejudice." His case in on for intervention on February 2 at 3 p.m. and the preliminary hearing was set for February 10 at 8:30 a.m because he did not waive time.

On January 26, EPD arrested Burgess and he was booked into jail for he was booked  with charges for  being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, carrying a concealed firearm, felon carrying a loaded firearm in public, felon in possession of a stun gun, participation in a criminal street gang, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, fleeing the scene of a collision, committing a felony crime while out on bail, and possession of a
loaded firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance.

This is not his first brush with the law.
Previous post (with EPD release and other background):


"In the Stiglich case, they charged him with voluntary manslaughter claiming it was a crime of passion. In that case, the victim did not even have a firearm. In our case, the victim had a firearm and it was basically a home invasion."

 An offer was made in the Benjamin Carter case; he is the suspect that called LOCO on the lam instead of his defense attorney and is charged with the murder of Zachery Chapman.

Please see post below for details and background. If you want the gist, I explain the offer below.

I spoke with Mr. Michael Acosta, Carter's defense attorney outside the courtroom, after today's court hearing .No other media was present in the courtroom or has this letter.

Mr. Acosta said that the defense has made an offer that Carter would plead guilty to PC 141 tampering with evidence and PC 148 delaying the investigation and obstruction of justice. Mr. Acosta said that Carter did "commit homicide, but not malicious homicide, which is what murder is," he said. As to burning Chapman's jacket and tampering with evidence, Mr. Acosta said that they acknowledge Carter did these things; and that "he did leave the County when he ran" but in his client's defense said, "he panicked." Mr. Acosta said his client was acting in self-defense.

Mr. Acosta compared the charging decisions made in this case with another high profile case, that of Judson Stiglich, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter.

"In the Stiglich case, they charged him with voluntary manslaughter claiming it was a crime of passion. In that case, the victim did not even have a firearm. In our case, the victim had a firearm and it was basically a home invasion."

"The new administration did not charge Ben's case, that was Paul's administration," said Mr. Acosta. "We want Ms. Fleming to have an opportunity to review the charges in this case. If they end up losing this trial, it will be very costly for the County."

Offer made by defense in Benjamin Carter case for District Attorney to review

This afternoon in Courtroom 1, a disposition and reset hearing was scheduled for Benjamin Carter, the suspect charged with the murder of Zachery Chapman. Carter is the murder suspect who called LOCO instead of his attorney while on the lam.

Today, Carter's defense attorney, Mr. Michael Acosta spoke briefly with Carter before his case was called and Carter, who was sitting slumped in the chair in the "box" sat up and said "ok." Carter's family members, including his sister-in-law who previously testified for the prosecution, were present in court.

When his case was called, Mr. Acosta told Judge John Feeney that the defense had made an offer in the case. Until now,  DDA Luke Brownfield has been prosecuting the case. Today DDA Roger Rees was in Courtroom 1 for the People. He acknowledged that the People had receibved the offer and asked Judge Feeney for another disposition and reset hearing in a week so that his office could look at and discuss the proposed offer. I have included the text of Mr. Acosta's letter below. The next court date is February 4 at 2 p.m.

I spoke with Mr. Acosta outside the courtroom.No other media was present in the courtroom or has this letter, yet.

Mr. Acosta said that the defense has made an offer that Carter would plead guilty to PC 141 tampering with evidence and PC 148 delaying the investigation and obstruction of justice. Mr. Acosta said that Carter did "commit homicide, but not malicious homicide, which is what murder is," he said. As to burning Chapman's jacket and tampering with evidence, Mr. Acosta said that they acknowledge Carter did these things; and that "he did leave the County when he ran" but in his client's defense said, "he panicked." Mr. Acosta said his client was acting in self-defense.

Mr. Acosta compared the charging decisions made in this case with another high profile case, that of Judson Stiglich, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter.

"In the Stiglich case, they charged him with voluntary manslaughter claiming it was a crime of passion. In that case, the victim did not even have a firearm. In our case, the victim had a firearm and it was basically a home invasion."

"The new administration did not charge Ben's case, that was Paul's administration," said Mr. Acosta. "We want Ms. Fleming to have an opportunity to review the charges in this case. If they end up losing this trial, it will be very costly for the County."

Links to last post (includes links to previous posts on this case):


Text of Mr.Acosta's letter to the District Attorney's office:

January 27, 2015

Ms. Margaret M. Fleming, District Attorney
Mr. Andrew L. Isaac, Deputy District Attorney
Mr. Luke R. Brownfield, Deputy District Attorney
County of Humboldt District Attorney’s Office
825 Fifth Street
Eureka, CA 05501

RE:     People .v. Benjamin Jasper Carter, CR1402688

Ms. Fleming:

I am writing, per your office’s request through Mr. Luke Brownfield, to convey an offer to settle the above-entitled matter. As the original complaint in this matter was filed before you took office as our new District Attorney, Mr. Carter, his family, his supporters, and I are very happy that you have decided to review some of the  more cost-ineffective charging decisions of the previous administration.
As you know, Mr. Carter was originally charged in Count I with  PC 187 (murder) and in Count II with PC 451(c) (arson).  As there was no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Carter set fire to or caused the burning of the trailer in question, the Honorable Judge Dale Reinholtsen did not hold Mr. Carter to answer the arson charge at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, and it was not charged in the Information.  What was added in its place as County II was PC 12021 (Possession of a Firearm by a Felon).  While this new Count II is at least partially grounded in fact (as Mr. Carter is a felon and had, at least momentarily, possessed a firearm in circumstances which Mr. Carter and I believe to be clearly both self-defense and defense of others (“others” being his wife and sister-in-law). the new Count II is not supported by law.  (See People vKing (1978) 22 Cal.3d 12, 24-26.) in which the California Supreme Court held  that in enacting section 12021 the Legislature did not intend to deny persons described by that section the right to use a concealable firearm in defense of self or others in emergency situations,  I say this even though Mr. Carter’s original offer to settle this matter (before the preliminary hearing)  was a plea to PC12021 with a stipulated term. Therefore, it would be in the interest of justice to require him to plead guilty to the new Count II.
I believe a fair resolution of this matter would involve the Defendant accepting responsibility for two of his actions.  First, Mr. Carter moved Mr. Chapman’s body, and that constitutes a violation of PC 141 Tampering with Evidence.  Second, Mr. Carter left Humboldt County without reporting the homicide (though he left Mr. Chapman’s body to be found in an obvious public place out of grief for the death of this best friend and, more importantly, concern for Mr. Chapman’s mother,  The latter makes him culpable of a PC 148 offense, of delaying the investigation and obstructing justice.  Those two charges, in an amended pleading, and on an open plea basis, are Mr. Carter’s current offer to settle.
    We look forward to your reply.

Jan 27, 2015

"A lot of times, their basic needs are not met, so they re-offend and steal"; pilot project at local jail initiated by HCSO staff member aims to help inmates turn their lives around

Lesa Christensen, currently the Administrative Supervisor for civilian jail staff, remembers the old jail facility. "It was very reactive."  Lt. Marco Luna and Captain Ed Wilkinson took the initiative and researched modern jail facilities. They toured direct supervision facilities and Ms. Christensen became one of the trainers for the local jail facility.

Back in March this year, I did a post:

In that post, I interviewed Lt. Marco Luna, who is the Operations Lt, in charge of the custody division. That post explains the contrast between the old facility and the new facility and goes into detail about direct supervision.

"Lot of our officers had a hard time adjusting," said Ms. Christensen. "Lot of officers left because they didn't believe in the new philosophy. This new mindset involved officers not reacting but being in the same units as the inmate and interacting with them--direct supervision.

"I am a huge proponent for direct supervision," Ms. Christensen told me this afternoon when I interviewed her at the Inmate Programs Office, where she currently has her desk. "You get to talk to people, why they get into trouble, you hear their story and you get to learn about the individual circumstances that brought them to this point."

Ms. Christensen was the first female officer to work in a 64 male inmate dorm. As Lt. Luna mentioned in March, it takes a special person to work in this type of environment. Ms. Christensen reiterated that point. "You have to be confident but you cannot be arrogant. It is a teacher-student type of relationship. We have had bad things happen such as officers getting attacked; you have to be prepared."

Here is a link to a video explaining direct supervision and the transition of the local jail to a new modern facility
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Correctional Career

"When AB 109 and Prop 47 came through, CCP, the organization that decides where funds for county jails are allocated told us "we weren't prepared, we need to improve."

Humboldt County Correctional Facility adminstration representatives met with College of the Redwoods, Mental Health, DHHS and they started brainstorming.

Ms. Christensen researched and found in addition to the current inmate programs offered, Humboldt County inmates could benefit from classes offered by the National Institute of Corrections. These classes on cognitive, re-thinking therapy, thinking for change are "designed to help people who make bad decisions make good decisions."

Ms. Christensen looked at other counties and what they were doing.She was very impressed with a Marin County inmate re-entry program that helps inmates integrate into society after re-incarceration and change their lives for the positive and be successful.

Ms. Christensen is writing a proposal for a pilot project that has to then be approved by Captain Wilkinson. The proposal will initially "interview all people who will be released within 30 days and assess them for the risk of re-offending." Eventually, Ms. Christensen would like to expand this to include people being released in 60 days, 80 days and those who are in jail long-term.

"A lot of times, they don't have their basic needs met, so they re-offend and steal," said Ms. Christensen. "I want to ask them before they are released: What is your plan? Where will you live? Are you homeless? Are you a Vet? What do you need?"

Then she will help them get in contact with agencies and get them the basic tools they need so they have something set up before they leave the jail. Teen Challenge is now working on transitional housing for women; Ms. Christensen is working with College of the Redwoods to see if people can get financial aid if they want to continue beyond the general education they get in jail.

"We have always waited for people to ask for help, I'm going to be pro-active."

In order for this to be successful, Ms. Christensen said that the community needs to get involved. If there are job opportunities people can let her know; she also said that DHHS and Mental Health will be crucial for this to work.

"The only way this can be successful is if people want to change."

Ms. Christensen is only in her current position until March 1. She will then be transferred back supervising officers but she is passionate about helping those who want to change their life. Even while she waits for this project to be approved, she intends to reach out to inmates.

Trial setting for former assistant court manager charged with allegedly embezzling approximately $100,000 from local court's operation department

A trial setting was scheduled this afternoon at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5 for Socorro Maria Cervantes, former assistant court manager, who is charged with allegedly embezzling almost $100,000 from the Humboldt County Superior Court's operations department.

The Public Defender's office is representing Cervantes. Today, the attorney representing her was not in court but Ms. Jennifer Dixon, on behalf of her colleague told Visiting Judge Arvid Johnson that they had a petition to compel discovery. DDA Zach Curtis said "my office received a motion today, we are requesting time to respond." Judge Johnson said that the People's response needed to be filed by March 20. The next court date is March 17 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5.

There has been no follow-up on this case in the media.

Link to Times-Standard 2013 article:


Text of the article from 2103 by Thadeus Greenson

Some five years after the alleged act, a criminal grand jury has indicted a Fortuna woman for allegedly embezzling almost $100,000 from the Humboldt County Superior Court's operations department.

Socorro Maria Cervantes, the former assistant court manager, appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of embezzlement, stemming from allegations that she stole cash payments made to the court's operations department over the course of 2008.

Cervantes, who was indicted Friday in a secret proceeding that saw 13 witnesses testify before the grand jury, was released on her own recognizance after being booked into the jail. Because Cervantes was a public officer at the time of the alleged thefts, she is not eligible for parole and faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted.

A criminal investigation into the thefts began after a $2,400 payment to the court disappeared in late October 2008. A subsequent audit revealed that almost $100,000 in fines and fees paid to the court went missing between January and October of that year.

The investigation handed over to the state Department of Justice's Redding office in January 2009 took a turn after state budget cuts shuttered the office in July 2011, leaving the case's future unclear.

At the time, DOJ Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence Special Agent Supervisor Jeff Lierly, who headed the Redding office, said he would "try to live up to the personal commitment" he made regarding the case, but that he didn't know what the future would hold.

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Christa McKimmey said the DOJ turned the case over to the DA's Office Investigative Bureau in November 2011. Citing laws protecting the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, McKimmey said she couldn't comment on what evidence links Cervantes to the missing funds.

In October 2008, the court's operations office relied on two separate case management software systems to track court cases and payments, according to Court Executive Officer Kerri Keenan. She explained in a previous interview that the system used in the court's civil and family divisions worked well, leaving a clear audit log of payments received. The system used to track traffic and criminal cases and payments was antiquated, and didn't include an accounting component. That left payments coming in for court fees and traffic fines to be logged with hand-written receipts, which were later logged into a computer system.

When court administrators discovered that someone might have been stealing payments, management immediately notified the police and began the audit, which focused solely on 2008.

Keenan said Monday that it remains unclear if any of the missing payments affected court cases. She said, to her knowledge, there haven't been any complaints of payments not being credited to accounts. Some have questioned whether criminal and traffic cases accompanying the vanishing payments may have also disappeared from the system, and Keenan said that can't be ruled out as a possibility.

It's also unclear if the alleged embezzlement stretches back further. The Administrative Office of the Courts' audit only focused on one year. Keenan said there was no telling if, or how much, money is missing from previous years.

McKimmey said the question of funds missing from prior years remains under investigation.

"The investigation of thefts occurring in other years and by whom is still being looked at," she said.

In the wake of the missing funds, the court operations division put a number of checks in place to prevent thefts from occurring in the future, including the installation of surveillance cameras, the assigning of permanent cashiers to limit the number of people handling payments, and switching all criminal and traffic cases to a more modern system, which logs every transaction and who entered it.

Cervantes, who resigned her position with the court in July 2009, is due back in court Nov. 18 for a pre-trial hearing. Her attorney Patrik Griego declined to comment.

As a condition of Cervantes' release, visiting Superior Court Judge Garrett Olney ordered her not to leave the state without the court's permission. Olney said he didn't see Cervantes as a flight risk, noting that the defendant was aware of an investigation targeting her in 2009.

"The time to have left would have been 2009, and here we are four years later and she's still here," Olney said.

Jan 26, 2015

Floyd and Betty Squires owner of Blue Heron Lodge to face closure for failure to secure a valid lodging permit

On February 4th, 2015 the City of Eureka will execute a warrant for closure of the Blue Heron Lodge
located at 2245 Broadway. The owners, Floyd and Betty Squires, have failed to secure a valid lodging permit for two consecutive years as required by the City’s motel ordinance, which was adopted by the City Council in October 2013.
The Blue Heron continues to place a disproportionate burden on the City’s emergency services,
averaging more than six calls for service (CFS) per room annually for violations such as disturbing the peace, drug dealing, and fights. The 15 room Blue Heron Lodge has been at or near the highest
CFS/Room ratio of the 32 motels in the City with a ratio of over 6.4. Analysis shows that the Blue Heron has 1% of the motel rooms in Eureka and generates 11% of the total calls for service. (See table below)
Data gathered since adoption of the motel ordinance show that the ordinance is having the intended
effect of convincing motel owners to manage their properties in a way that minimizes impacts on first
responders and the surrounding community. The Blue Heron is the only motel in the City currently
operating without a valid permit.
The property continues to have numerous building code violations ranging from broken heaters to
cockroach infestation and the owners have failed to make substantive changes despite multiple
warnings from the City.
The City recognizes that the occupants of the Blue Heron and similar motels are often our most
vulnerable residents. As a result, staff from local agencies and nonprofits have already contacted the
occupants to help them find alternative housing and other assistance as necessary in the lead up to

"Creeper" aka Anthony Manuel Burgess has not learned from his 2012 arrest except for wearing a wig to avoid being arrested

EPD Press Release (today):

On 1/25/15, at about 11:20 AM, Eureka Police Department officers were dispatched to a
suspicious persons call at the rear of a residence on the 900 block of G Street, Eureka.
One of the involved subjects was reported to have left on a bicycle after jumping a
backyard fence.
A responding officer saw a male matching the suspect’s description riding a bicycle away
from the vicinity of the call. The officer attempted to stop the male after he failed to stop
for the stop sign located on westbound 9th Street at G Street. The subject, later identified
as Anthony Manuel Burgess (age 22 of Eureka), then fled from the officer on his bike.
During a brief ensuing pursuit, Burgess failed to stop at the stop sign located on
northbound B Street at 7th Street. He was struck by an eastbound vehicle on 7th Street
and ejected from the bike. Burgess then jumped to his feet and ran into the parking lot of
a nearby business where he was subsequently taken into custody by officers without
further incident.
During a search incident to Burgess’ arrest, a loaded .357 handgun and a stun gun were
found in a bag he was carrying. Burgess was also wearing a wig. Officers suspect the
wig was an attempt on his part to avoid detection from law enforcement.
At the time of his arrest, Burgess was out on bail following an incident in early January
where he dropped a loaded firearm while fleeing from a different EPD officer.
Additionally, EPD responded to another incident involving Burgess last week where he
reportedly brandished a firearm at an individual during an altercation. Burgess
successfully evaded apprehension in that case after he fled from an officer who spotted
him in the vicinity.
Burgess was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for minor injuries he
sustained during his collision with the vehicle. He was then transported to the Humboldt
County Correctional Facility where he was booked on numerous fresh charges including:
convicted felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, carrying a
concealed firearm, felon carrying a loaded firearm in public, felon in possession of a stun
gun, participation in a criminal street gang, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, fleeing
the scene of a collision, committing a felony crime while out on bail, and possession of a
loaded firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance.
Additionally, officers contacted the on-call magistrate and requested a bail enhancement.
His bail was subsequently increased to $250,000.00 and he remains in custody as of the
time of this release.

EPD Press Release (from 2012):

According to a news release from the Eureka Police Department, dated Feb. 3, 2012:
On Feb. 1 through Feb. 2, 2012, investigators and agents from multiple federal, state, and local agencies participated in a two day anti-crime/anti-gang sweep in Humboldt County.  The operation was planned and coordinated by the FBI’s North Bay Regional Gang Task Force under their Safe Streets Violent Crime Initiative. (“SSTFs focus primarily upon street gang and drug-related violence and address specific violent crime problems through the teaming of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors.”).

The operation was hosted by the Eureka Police Department and the teams were led locally by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Response Unit (CRU) and the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP).  Approximately 22 agents and investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Parole (CDCR), Humboldt County Probation Department, U.S. Marshall’s Office, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, and Eureka Police Department participated in the gang task force sweep.  Over a two-day period, the task force executed a series of parole and probation searches at various locations within Humboldt County primarily targeting previously identified members of violent street and/or prison gangs.  These targeted searches were designed to gather intelligence, identify gang members and gang associates, and make arrests as appropriate.

During the course of the operation, a total of 15 suspects were arrested for various offenses ranging from misdemeanor and felony warrants, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance (heroin and methamphetamine), possession of marijuana for sale, and parole and probation violations.  Approximately 10 of those arrested were documented gang members.  Those arrested during the gang sweep include:

Jeremy Dean Wildman (moniker: Looney”), age 35 of Eureka, was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale after investigators found nearly 5 pounds of processed marijuana and multiple digital scales in his apartment on the 100 block of West Del Norte Street, Eureka.
Scott Ryan Campbell (moniker: “Droopy”), age 35 of Eureka, was arrested for a felony warrant alleging violation of his post release community supervision.  Campbell was contacted with Wildman at his West Del Norte Street residence.
Anthony Manuel Burgess (moniker: “Creeper”), age 19, was arrested for violation of his probation at a cottage on the 2900 block of California Street, Eureka.
Corey Allen Cole (moniker: “Sinner”), age 29, was arrested for violation of his parole at the same cottage where investigators encountered Burgess.
Zachery Jacob Chapman, age 34, was arrested in McKinleyville for a violation of his parole.
Michael Thomas Meyers (moniker: “Flaco”), age 34, was arrested for violation of his parole at an apartment on the 700 block of 10th Street, Eureka.

Court subpoenas reluctant witnesses in Arcata chef stabbing case

This afternoon there was a pretrial hearing and a motion to compel attendance of necessary witnesses requested by the defense. The suspect Juan Ferrer is being represented by Marek Reavis from the Conflict Counsel's office. The case was being prosecuted previously by former DA Paul Gallegos. It is now being prosecuted by DDA Roger Rees.

Three witnessss were given subpoenas in court today and dates set for them to show up for jury trial in April. Mr. Reavis' office and the Sheriff's office had been unable to reach these witnesses despite repeated attempts. Today,they did come reluctantly but voluntarily after receiving a notice to show up in court.

"I was worried that they were avoiding service but it does not seem so," said Mr. Reavis. The three witnesses that are now under "in persona jurisdiction" are Sarah Brody, a witness who heard a voice characterized as "enraged yelling, 'Fuck you and your fat girlfriend'"; Virginia Jimenez, the victim's former girlfriend who was with him the night of the alleged stabbing incident and Cher Southard, the manager of the crew house where the victim resided.

In a rare occurrence, Will Houston from the Times Standard, Paul Mann from Mad River Union and I all talked with Mr. Reavis outside the courtroom after the hearing so you will see some similar information in our reports.

A chemical analysis stipulation agreed by the People and requested by the defense to test blood found at two different locations will be done by an independent, private company.

 Ferrer's codefendants Rocheleau and Stoiber who pleaded out go lesser charges will both testify at the trial, said Mr. Reavis.

A pre-trial/status review date has been scheduled for March 3 at 2 p.m.; Trial confirmation on March 23 at 2 p.m. and jury trial is currently scheduled for April 6, 2015. Judge Joyce Hinrichs had disqualified herself from this case earlier this year when the original plea deal was vacated. Judge Dale Reinholtsen who was overseeing the case is now in civil courts. It remains to be determined who the trial Judge will be.

Unlike, when Paul Gallegos was handling the case and it was going through delay after delay, every 2 weeks, discovery in the case is now complete.

Elaborating on the chemical analysis request, Mr. Reavis said that Douglas Anderson-Jordet's body was found near 12th and H streets. "When the body was discovered, there were drops of blood on the sidewalk and street south of the location where the body was found. There was blood on top of his shoes and in between the treads of the shoes. Two-three days later, one of the detectives went back to the location and he found what looked like blood  at 11 th and H. He went back to 12th and H and collected blood samples from both locations. Both these samples were tested and all the DOJ could tell was that they had the same level of degradation." An independent private company will now test the blood to dtermine the blood type, if it from the same source. Mr. Reavis said that this will be helpful to confirm the location of the actual conflict. "This helps confirm Mr. Ferrer's account and what Ms. Rocheleau and Mr. Stoiber's told law enforcement. Both of them said that the confrontation took place at 11th and H and when they left, Mr. Anderson-Jordet was yelling at them."


Fieldbrook double murder case dates confirmed, discovery outstanding, defense may continue once discovery received

This afternoon, there was a pre trial hearing scheduled for Jason Arreaga, the suspect in the double murders that took place in Fieldbrook.

Arreaga is being represented by Public Defender Heidi Holmquist. DDA Zach Curtis is prosecuting for People. Ms. Holmquist confirmed dates for now and said she may request a continuance after getting outstanding  discovery. Mr. Curtis said People are waiting to get discovery from DOJ.

Jury finds James Colby Jr not guilty on all counts of alleged attempted rape and child molestation

James Colby Jr was acquitted of all charges against him a minute ago by a jury consisting of three women and eight men. The case went to the jury on Friday at lunchtime. They came back this morning and in less than three hours, picked a foreman, and came back with a verdict.

Once the verdict was final, Colby turned to his attorney Mr. Kaleb Cockrum and wiped away tears.

James Colby's sister was present in the courtroom sobbed as each not guilty verdict was read. She spoke with me outside the courtroom and said she thanked the jury."I have been praying since all this started," she said.

She called their mom after the verdict saying, " he is free."

There is extensive coverage of this case on this blog. This case was only covered on this blog.

Previous posts:



Fire Department to forward Summer Street investigation to EPD for further criminal investigation

Update 1/26/15:
Humboldt Bay Fire investigators have completed the Origin and Cause investigation for the fire on Saturday, 1/24/15. The fire was determined to be Incendiary (Arson). Humboldt Bay Fire will be forwarding this investigation to the Eureka Police Department for further criminal investigation.

Original Release 1/24/15:
At 11:19 A.M. today crews from Humboldt Bay Fire responded to a reported structure fire at 808 Summer Street. The first arriving unit arrived on scene and reported a two-story wood framed residential structure to the rear of 808 Summer Street with heavy fire coming from the second floor windows. Initially crews were told that there may be occupants inside of the structure. An ambulance was requested to the scene. Fire crews immediately attacked the fire and searched the structure for victims. None were located.
Personnel had the fire controlled within 30 minutes and completely out in one hour. There was extensive mop-up needed within the structure. The structure was a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Humboldt Bay Fire will provide more information next week.

Fieldbrook double murder suspect and Arcata chef stabbing suspect both scheduled this afternoon for pre trial

Fieldbrook double murder suspect Jason Arreaga in Courtroom 1 at 2 p.m. and Juan Ferrer charged with the stabbing of Douglas Anderson-Jordet at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5. Both are scheduled for jury trials.

Updates later today, if there is any change.

Arrest warrant issued for Michelle Hunsucker for Willow Creek Subway robbery

On 01-24-2015 at about 8:40 pm the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol responded to the Subway store located in Willow Creek, regarding an armed robbery that had just occurred.

When the Deputy arrived he contacted the employee, who told him that a female and male subject came into the store at about 8:37 pm. The employee said there were no other customers in the store when the female and male entered. The employee said the female ordered a sandwich. When the order was complete the male came up to the counter. The male then pulled out a handgun and demanded the money. The employee then gave the male suspect an undisclosed amount of cash.

The male and female suspects then ran out of the store toward the Chevron Gas Station, which is located just to the west of the Subway off Highway 299. The Deputy contacted witnesses, who said the two suspects, may have left the area in a white, SUV with chrome wheels. No further description of the vehicle. Deputies checked the area for the suspects and vehicle and were unable to locate them.

When Deputies were conducting follow-up investigation into this case they were able to identify the female suspect as: Michelle Marie Hunsucker age 32 from the Hoopa area. The male suspect in this case is described as : Native American, approx. age early 30’s, 5-5, 180 pounds, dark hair and a mustache. The male suspect was wearing dark black jeans and a grey hooded sweatshirt with what appeared to be a bear design on the front.

The Sheriff’s Office has issued a be on the lookout broadcast (BOL) to other Law Enforcement agencies to arrest Hunsucker for the armed robbery of the Subway store in Willow Creek.

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.

Rancho Sequoia murder suspect Matthew Brown finally starts jury trial

Matthew Brown, who is accused on the murder of Neil Decker, was supposed to have his jury trial on January 12. Since then, with no courtrooms available, each week the case gets put off another week when trial assignments are made.

Brown waived a preliminary hearing and he waived time recently. Jury trial was sent to Courtroom 1 this morning. Victim's family is present.

Last post (with other background links):

Jan 24, 2015

Henderson Center's Nourish bistro and catering already generating excitement

Nourish Bistro and Catering is set to open in Henderson Center in February. They are licated at 518 Henderson Center, the former location of Go-go bistro.

Already have a facebook page. Would like a hint on what they will be serving, in addition to locally roasted coffee.

Citizens of Humboldt protest against criminals planned during next Arts Alive

From 5 to 7 p.m. on February 7 between E and G streets on Fourth street in Eureka.

Check out Operation Safe Streets facebook page for more information.

Jan 23, 2015

Graphic testimony in Colby case outlines alleged abuse suffered by Jane and John Doe

Mr. Brownfield continued his closing with telling the jury that Jane Doe went into each assault with details. "She was asleep. Colby entered and locked the door. He lifted her feet, laid on top of her, grabbed her breast, kissed her neck and nibbled on her ear."

"He was trying to have sex with his daughter, he knew what he was doing."

Mr. Brownfield took the elements needed of forcible rape and related them to Jane Doe's testimony.

"He repeatedly asked his daughter to give him head. When she refused, he asked if he could eat her out."

There is an incident which allegedly happened after they returned from the river that Mr. Brownfield spoke about next. "He goes into her room, locks the door, pulls out a condom and says, 'I'm ready this time.' He pushes her on the bed, pulls her shorts down, she screams, pleads, fights, he doesn't stop. He only stops when his son knocks on the door."

Mr. Brownfield said that James Colby denied all allegations. The only independent witness was his own son testifying about knocking on the door and Jane Doe screaming and crying.

Then Mr. Brownfield pointed out inconsistencies in Colby's testimony. "He testified in court that Jane Doe was upset but he told Officer Ehler he did not know why she was upset. He testified in court thta he took over Jane Doe's phone because he thought she was texting boys. He told officer Ehler that she didn't have her phone." Earlier before closing, Officer Ehler was brought back to testify. In that testimony, he said that in a later interview, Colby said that he took away Jane Doe's cell phone as a punishment for losing her virginity.

Referring to character witnesses for Mr. Colby, Mr. Brownfield said that friends, neighbors were shocked but "no one knows what happens behind closed doors. We don't want to believe someone we like would do such things."

"When Jane Doe told her CWS worker the truth her life fell apart."

In contrast to Mr. Brownfield's closing, Colby's appointed counsel, Mr. Kaleb Cockrum did not refer to testimony or specifics. He did remind them that closing arguments are not evidence, he did go into what reasonable doubt is and that they cannot just believe one person, and even if they believed everything Jane Doe said, "that was not sufficient proof." He pointed out that Colby consistently denied allegations. he attacked the character of Jane and John Doe and said they "don't make sense."

He said Jane Doe gave pat answers, she did not have specific details about the abuse, which is contrary to what Mr. Brownfield said and Mr. Brownfield did provide specifics. Mr. Cockrum made statements to the jury about how they should interpret.

Mr. Cockrum did bring up two questions that were the strongest part of his closing. "Mr. Colby after being a foster parent for 10 years suddenly becomes a child molestor? Why bring up a whole family to live with you if you wanted these children alone?"  He is referring to the time that Jane's biological dad and family living with them. Mr. Cockrum forgets that in Colby's own testimony on the stand, it was unclear and the biological family was not there all the time, they were dependent on Colby as were the foster children and they were asked to move out and that was part of the reason Jane Doe was upset with him. These are Mr. Colby's own words.

James Colby allegedly told his son he was demonstrating what would have happened if Jane Doe was alone with a boy. "But she wasn't alone with a boy, she was with her father."

"People act differently behind closed doors. Rapists, child molestors work behind closed doors. It is difficult to identify them, they can be volunteer firemen, football coaches or boy scouts." This is the opening sentence of DDA Luke Brownfield's closing argument to a jury currently deciding the fate of James Colby, a man accused of attempted forcible rape and alleged molestation of two of his underage foster children. The minors were an 11 year John Doe and a 17 year old Jane Doe. These were the ages when the alleged incidents occurred.

"James Colby tried to rape his daughter and molested his son. It is my job as Deputy District Attorney to prove to you that he committed a crime."

"You heard Jane Doe and John Doe. If you don't believe those two witnesses, your job is easy. It is not that simple. Jane and John Doe told you the truth."

Referring to the credibility of witnesses jury instruction they had just received from Judge John Feeney, Mr. Brownfield continued. "Why would Jane Doe lie to you? You heard some theories. Because James Colby took her phone away, she would say James Colby raped her? That is extreme. because he slapped her? To get him in trouble, all she had to say was that he slapped her. Why say that he raped her? We also heard Jane Doe was mad because he was going to have her biological family move out.

The defense theories that Mr. Brownfield refers to is testimony I was present for in the courtroom and James Colby said so in his own words when he testified.

Mr. Brownfield then told the jury that there were consequences for Jane Doe for speaking up. "She had to move out of her house, move away from her biological family, her family fell apart, she was placed in a different home, she didn't get the truck that Mr. Colby promised her. Things were going well for her." He asked the jury, why would she come forward?

Mr. Brownfield said that "Jane Doe's testimony is supported by Justin Colby, her brother," Justin Colby is James Colby's biological son. "Justin verified he heard her screaming, he knocked on the door. Jane Doe and Mr. Colby did not come out right away. It took five minutes. When the door opened, Jane Doe is upset and screaming."

"James Colby told Justin he was demonstrating what would have happened if she was alone with a boy. But he wasn't alone with a boy, she was with her father. He got on top of her, he groped her, tried to have sex with her."

"I won't lie to you," said Mr. Brownfield, "John Doe was not consistent with what he told the officer but he didn't lie. He told the truth. He is a 12 year old boy. He has been in foster care since he was 1. he moved from house to house. At least four or five houses. Nothing in John Doe's life was consistent. So how can he be consistent with you about time frames?"

At this point, I do not know if it was John Doe or Colby's own son sitting in court but his mother put her arm around him and later on as testimony went on and got into more details about alleged assaults, they left the courtroom and came back.

Referring to the incidents that John Doe testified about, Mr. Brownfield said "both times he was asleep. James Colby picked him up and and took him to bed. The things he told you, no 11 or 12 year old boy should know. There is no reasonable explaination. why he knew."

Mr. Brownfield said that John Doe said "wierd sticky stuff that was gross. We know it was Mr. Colby's semen. If someone had coached him, he would have said jizz or cum or semen."

"After the sticky stuff, James Colby rolled over and went to sleep." Mr. Brownfield said that John Doe described in detail the motion of James Colby moving his hand on his penis."

Mr. Brownfield brought up that both James Colby and his sister Dorothy Colby said that John Doe was truthful.

Previous posts (with background):


Eureka brothers destroyed public lands and grew marijuana in Shasta Trinity National Forest


"People act differently behind closed doors" DDA Brownfield delivers powerful closing against Colby accused of attempted forciple rape and molestation of Jane and John Doe, his foster children

James Colby, a Fortuna resident is charged with Count 1-5: Intent to Commit Forcible Rape, Count 2 Assault/Intent oral copulation with person under age of 18, Count 7 Attempt Forcible Rape and Counts 15 and 16 Lewd/Lasvicious Act with a child under the age of 14.

The alleged victims were his foster children, a young boy 11 years old at the time and his sister, under the age of 18.

According to Colby who testified himself, this is retaliation by Jane Doe because she was upset with his rules. No media has followed this case or was there for closing.

I will have a post shortly with closing arguments.

"People act differently behind closed doors," is how DDA Luke Brownfield opened his closing remarks.

There was detailed and graphic testimony during trial and references to it during closing. The case went to jury today after closing arguments.

Previous post with background:


Jan 22, 2015

From Eureka High School soccer to heroin and marijuana, the tale of Humboldt downward spiral

Kayla Throgmorton, see POP press release below.

POP bust on California Street for heroin, 15 lbs of processed marijuana and two loaded guns

On 01/22/15 at about 7:30 a.m., Detectives with the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP), served a search warrant at a residence on the 3400 block of California Street in response to numerous complaints.

Detectives located 2 loaded guns, heroin for sales, and nearly 15 pounds of processed marijuana.  Paul Horn (30), Kayla Throgmorton (25), and Mario Garcia (34) all of Eureka were arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Jail on the following charges:

Horn: maintaining a residence for drugs, possession of a controlled substance (heroin) for sale, possession of marijuana for sale, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Throgmorton: maintaining a residence for drugs, possession of marijuana for sale, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Garcia: possession of drug paraphernalia and probation violation.

Closing arguments for James Colby, suspect originally accused of oral copulation with minor, to take place tomorrow morning

Currently, a jury is awaiting to hear closing arguments and jury instructions to deliberate the fate of James Horner Colby, Jr. Yesterday,the jury heard from the defendant. Judge John Feeney is presiding; DDA Luke Brownfield is the prosecutor; and Conflict Counsel's Kaleb Cockrum is assigned to defend Colby.

The case that the jury heard had several charges. Colby is charged with a felony: assault. Assault with intent to commit a sex offense; attempted forcible rape; and sexual battery. There are 13 counts in this case and the defense is trying to get Counts 8 to 13 dismissed under PC 1118.1. The People are opposing this and this morning the attorneys were going over all of this in court.

There is another case that was a felony: sex offense which is on for dismissal tomorrow with a disposition/reset. In that case, Colby is charged with a lewd and lasvicious act with a person under the age of 14 years also known as PC288 (a) which is the California Penal Code 288a describes the California sex crime of “oral copulation with a minor.”

I did sit in on some of the hearings for this case and thought the victim in both cases was the same. I asked for clarification and comment from the District Attorney's office. Our DA, Ms. Maggie Fleming responded via email:

"The two cases were consolidated.  Some of the charges were dismissed based upon the testimony. Closing arguments are tomorrow morning. "

CA Penal Code 118.1:

1118.1.  In a case tried before a jury, the court on motion of the
defendant or on its own motion, at the close of the evidence on
either side and before the case is submitted to the jury for
decision, shall order the entry of a judgment of acquittal of one or
more of the offenses charged in the accusatory pleading if the
evidence then before the court is insufficient to sustain a
conviction of such offense or offenses on appeal. If such a motion
for judgment of acquittal at the close of the evidence offered by the
prosecution is not granted, the defendant may offer evidence without
first having reserved that right.

Arcata Plaza stabbing suspect: victim of mental health and substance abuse or career criminal?

This afternoon in Courtroom 1, Victoria Shirley Clark had five cases scheduled. Clark, most recently was arrested for allegedly stabbing a victim at the Arcata Plaza.

The cases scheduled today were for other incidents and not the most recent 2014 case. Two cases were for misdemeanors: assault and battery, false imprisonment and battery on a non-cohabitating spouse. From the dates and Penal Code, it seems they are related to the Fortuna incident. Those cases had a pre-trial hearing scheduled. Other cases, which occurred in 2012 and 2010 were for a DUI and Disorderly Conduct under the influence of a Drug. There was a review hearing for all cases for alcohol and drug assessment and mental health. Clark's has several violations of probation.

At this afternoon's hearing, Clark arrived with a younger man. Someone I recognize from the courts or a most wanted poster. They sat right behind me. Before her case was called, both she and her friend smacked gum, tapped their foot impatiently, ruffled paperwork and talked while other cases were being called with complete disregard to all around them.

DDA Brienne Bennett was present for the People, Conflict's Counsel Kaleb Cockrum is representing Clark. Mr. Cockrum said that due to her pregnancy, she was requesting a hold/suspension for her commit jail date to do community service. She is on a waiting list for one program and has enrolled in Healthy Moms.

The next review date for Clark's case is March 26, 2015 at 2 p.m.

Arcata Police Department Press release:

On Tuesday, just before 11 a.m., officers from the Arcata Police Department responded to a report of a physical fight on the Arcata Plaza.

Upon officers arrival, a 35-year-old Arcata woman was located lying on the sidewalk at the corner of 9th and H St. The woman was suffering from multiple stab wounds to her torso.

Witnesses told officers the woman had been involved in a fight with another woman that had culminated with the victim being stabbed. Several witnesses were able to provide the name of the suspect, who had fled the scene prior to the arrival of law enforcement.

Approximately twenty minutes later, the suspect was located several blocks away and detained by police. The subsequent investigation determined the woman was responsible for the stabbing.

The suspect was identified as 38 year old Victoria Clark of Arcata. Clark was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for a violation of 245(A)(1) PC, assault with a deadly weapon.

The victim was transported to the Mad River Hospital, where she remains in stable condition.

From Times-Standard article:

The woman suspected in the stabbing of a woman at the Arcata Plaza on Tuesday morning has been arrested and identified as Victoria Shirley Clark, according to Arcata Police Sgt. Brian Hoffman.

Clark was arrested and booked into the county jail just before noon Tuesday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Hoffman said.

‘I believe she has a previous arrest for a PC 245 (an assault with a deadly weapon),” he said.

Fortuna Police Dept. Press Release:

On January 10th, 2013 at about 01:45 pm, Fortuna Police received a 9-1-1 call from a resident of the National Nine Motel reporting that a female subject was inside one of the rooms threatening to stab a male subject with a knife.

The first officer on scene could hear the victim yelling for help from within the room and subsequently contacted the subjects who were still engaged in an altercation, causing the officer to prone the female subject onto the ground at gunpoint. After speaking with all parties involved and witnesses on scene officers placed Victoria Clark (age 36) of Fortuna, under arrest for the following charges;

PC 245 Assault with a Deadly Weapon
PC 273.5 Domestic Violence
PC 236 False Imprisonment

Clark was transported to the Humboldt County Jail where she was booked without further incident.

Jan 21, 2015

"Lot of people want to blame the homeless for crime in this town, I can assure you homeless are not the ones stealing your stuff"

The above quote was by event organizer Gene Bass before he introduced Pamlyn Millsap, one of the speakers. Please read the post below for background on the event. I did not stay for the question-answer part of the evening and left when the speakers finished.

Information and how the community can be a part of making Eureka safe were the key themes at tonight's Operation Safe Streets Forum. The media had asked who this group is. Event Organizer Gene Bass said it was him and five or six other people. I got permission form Jeff Lamoree, who I know personally to use his name as well as one of the group members.

Mr. Bass,  openied his introductory remarks with, "I have got four kids. As a kid, I have grown up here. I was comfortable in this town. Kids used to own this town. Now, I don't let my kids go too far." he expressed he  would like to see this community be like the one he grew up in. "Without a safe community, he said there would be no jobs. Families won't stay because of the crime.

He continued with saying that instead of asking what the police can do, the community needs to get involved. "They are maxed out," he said referring to the Eureka Police Department. "Don't let the criminals get comfortable."

Joe Filgas, who owns Cafe Nooner in Old Town and Henderson Center spoke next. He is a part of Eureka Main Street's Neighborhood Watch. He said they do not confront, they talk to people in Old Town and Downtown Eureka. "We watch, take notes and report and engage everyone." They have helped tourists, they have directed people to local services. Visibility has helped the criminal element know they are being watch. The walks by the neighborhood watch are at random.

EPD Chief Andy Mills was the next speaker. When the crowd broke into applause greeting him, he quipped, "You might want to hold the applause until I tell you the crime data."

"To have this many people concerned about public safety and take time out is something else," said Chief Mills. " He said he wanted to recognize some people in the audience who are policy makers and leaders and can make decisions that impact public safety. He mentioned District Attorney Maggie Fleming and the crowd broke out in applause. Chief Mills said that Ms. Fleming had already met with police chiefs in the morning and informing on what her plans are, what she can prosecute. "She is already making a difference." He then recognized Eureka Council members Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel and Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass. The crowd enthusiastically clapped when Ms. Arroyo and Ms. Bass's names were mentioned. This was a very diverse crowd: liberal, conservative, in the middle, residents, business owners, social workers.

Chief Mills mentioned an increase in burglary. He mentioned that only 39% of crime is reported and the police understand that is not reflective of the number of actual crimes committed. He used the example of car break-ins or small thefts people feel they do not want to bother the police with and encouraged them to call. "While we only capture so much data, we realize many crimes go unreported."

"I am very proud of Eureka Main Street's Neighborhood Watch. They are not vigilante but positive. They walk up to people and ask, 'How can I help you?'"

He asked the community to get involved. Chief Mills said that due to budgets, staffing was just recently "up to snuff" and that it takes 4 to 5 months to train an officer for basic calls and "longer to train them to be good officers." There are future plans to expand the POP (Problem Oriented Policing) team and have a"a couple of officers who are proactive throughout the city."

"If you can destroy anonymity, that destroys crime," said Chief Mills. He said he does not advocate confrontation but just watching. "Just putting up neighborhood signs doesn't help. Crooks don't read that well."

"We are trying as a police department to address the right things: social chaos and social disorder."
He addressed the Eureka shopping cart and soon to be passed bicycle ordinances. He said in addition to people stealing carts, they are holding businesses accountable that allow the carts to be easily stolen. Regarding the bicycle ordinance, he said they are not going after kids or the average person riding a bicycle. They are going after people riding the bicycles on the wrong side of the street or what he said Henderson Center Neighborhood Watch has named G-Mobs. Grown Men on Bikes. The crowd laughed.

Captain Watson spoke about tresspass laws and that "California laws are confusing and poorly written" and many are not enforceable and not enforceable by law enforcement.

Elan Firpo talked about private property rights and liabilities that one can be at risk at in defending their property rights. Ms. Firpo is a former prosecutor with the Humboldt County District Attorney's office and currently a partner in the law firm of Zwerdling, Bragg, Mainzer and Firpo.

"I'm here because I live a couple of blocks away from Wabash," she said. "I'm going to talk about what you can do and what you cannot do." Using examples she explained to people about many misconceptions that people have about being protected if they use force in defending personal property.

In CA, you cannot just claim the Stand Your Ground argument. Using penal codes given in jury instructions, she cited Penal Code 198.5 and another jury instruction. She ended with the advice, "Criminals are lazy, they look for an easy target. Be vigilant!"

She also said that there is a small group of offenders committing majority of the crimes and EPD knows them. She advised people on what evidence is needed in a court of law, the risk they are taking in defending and to be careful and let law enforcement recover personal property.

Pamlyn Millsap said she is a big proponent of drug and alcohol rehab and that EPD refers people to services, shedding light on how the EPD deals with issues of people who need help, not jail.

The last speaker was Eureka City Attorney Cyndi-Day Wilson. She explained to the group what the role of the City Attorney was and that she has the authority to prosecute violations of the Eureka Municipal Code. She also has the discretion to prosecute something as an infraction. She spoke on how people who were dealing with private nuisances like a barking dog keeping them up all night or a public nuisance where a neighborhood is affected by a house with drug dealing going on has recourse to small claims court and nuisance abatement. She also explained that the Eureka City Council passed a social host ordinance where a parent or property owner (whether they are present or not) can be held liable if underage drinking is going on in a private gathering. Ms. Wilson also complimented District Attorney Maggie Fleming and 'how they are coordinating prosecution efforts to save time and resources.

Crowd breaks into applause for Chief Mills, Virginia, Maggie and Natalie at Operation Safe Streets Forum

While the crowd clapped for all speakers, Elan Firpo and Chief Andy Mills received a welcoming applause. Others popular with the crowd were Maggie Fleming, Virginia Bass and Natalie Arroyo who were in the audience.

Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass, District Attorney Maggie Fleming, City Eureka Councilmembers Kim Bergel and Natalie Arroyo, local attorney Allan Dollison, Sequoia Park Zoo's Jeff Lamoree, Eureka Main Street's Charlotte McDonald, Measure Z Committee member Mike Newman, local business owner John Fullerton and LOCO columnist Matthew Owen were in the audience. About 250  people attended the event. Some were standing in the hallway

As part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness and help prevent crime, Operation Safe Streets, Eureka held  a community meeting this evening from 6pm to 8pm at the Eureka Veterans Building located at 1018 H Street in Eureka.

Operation Safe Streets was formed by a group of concerned local citizens to help local crime prevention groups by offering training and guidance.

Speakers included Eureka Police Departments Chief Andy Mills and EPD Division 1 Captain Steve Watson.  Captain Watson discussed law enforcement’s response and limitations to commercial trespass complaints along with current information about the departments Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP). Private attorney Elan Firpo of Zwerdling, Bragg, Mainzer and Firpo discussed private property legal rights and liabilities.  Eureka Police homeless liaison Pamlyn Millsap discussed issues relating to homeless, transient and mental health concerns.  Eureka City Attorney, Cyndy Day-Wilson discussed the nuisance abatement and social party host ordinances.  Joe Filgas with the Eureka Main Street Watch group spoke about the groups ongoing efforts in Old Town.

The public was asked to submit questions they would like addressed ahead of time by emailing operationsafestreets@gmail.com or submit questions at the event.

Due to time constraints, speaker times and question answer periods were limited to the set agenda.

Judson Stiglich preliminary hearing continued due to outstanding discovery

Judson Stiglich who is charged with voluntary manslaughter, unlawful firearm activity, marijuana possession, allowing a place for preparing or storing a controlled substance, possession of marijuana for sale and receiving stolen property. Stiglich had a preliminary hearing scheduled for January 26. DDA Stacey Eads was present in Courtroom 4 for the People. Stiglich's family has hired private attorney David Celli. Today there was no resolution in an intervention hearing.

Mr. Celli made an oral motion to continue the preliminary hearing which was not opposed by the People. Mr. Celli said that there was "a large volume of discovery he did not have and he did not have the police report." Stiglich who had previously not waived time; entered a general time waiver today so that the preliminary hearing could be continued. Judge Timothy Cissna granted the defense motion.

Ms. Eads said that the DA's office did not have the discovery either, expected some of it today.

Family members family were present in the courtroom. Not sure if they were Stiglich's family members or the victim's family but after today's hearing, some were sobbing outside the courtroom.

An OR Bail hearing and Disposition/Reset hearing has been scheduled for January 29. This is not Stiglich's first brush with the law.

UPDATED: Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Detectives arrested, Judson Allen Stiglich age 32, for homicide for the shooting death of the victim, Ryan James Robinson age 22 from Rio Dell.

During the investigation Detectives learned that the victim and suspect knew each other. On the day of the homicide the suspect shot the victim after a brief verbal argument with each other.

The female age 32 in this investigation was released by the Detectives after questioning and was not arrested. Judson Stiglich was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for Homicide, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and for possession for stolen property.

The firearm used in the homicide was stolen from a victim out of the City of Fortuna. Stiglich’s bail has been set at one million dollars. An autopsy has been scheduled for this Saturday. If anyone has information in this Homicide please contact Investigator Greg Musson at 707-268-3643.

Original press release:

Judson Allen Stiglich, age 32, of Eureka (see 2013 mugshot right) was arrested yesterday for murder in the death of Ryan James Robinson, age 22 in Cutten. According to Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. Stiglich was also arrested for being a convicted felon in the possession of a firearm. Hanson said the firearm had been stolen out of Fortuna.

Lt. Hanson said the two men knew each other and got into a dispute which resulted in Robinson’s death.

A 32 year old female who was detained in connection with the incident was not arrested.

Limmie Curry continued again, request by People, new trial Feb 9

Ms. Kelly Neel who is prosecuting the case is also prosecuting another homicide case, set for trial on the same date. The People requested that the jury trial set for January 26 be continued. Casey Russo who is representing Limmie Curry opposed the continuance.

The other case, Ms. Neel is prosecuting is for Matthew Brown, who is charged with the murder of Neil Decker and that case has no time waiver. Curry has waived time. The Brown case is awaiting trial and each week that date cannot be set due to unavailability of courtrooms.

Unavailability of witnesses was also an issue brought up by the People for the Curry case.

Judge John Feeney ultimately granted the People's request. The new jury trial date for Limmie Curry case is February 9 at 8:30 a.m.

Mr. Russo argued that the People had not shown good cause on both issues but Ms. Neel addressed those in her argument. She said that initially an attorney had the ase, then Mr. Gallegos (former DA) had the case. And she took over in the last couple of months. Countering Mr. Russo's argument that it could be handed over to another prosecutor, Ms. Neel said, "This is not the type of case that you can just hand off." She also said that People had done due diligence in "securing the witnesses." She added that it was the People's preference that the witnesses testify in court otherwise the People would have to request their prior testimony be admitted.

Limmie Curry is charged with the murder of William Reid. His alleged co-conspirator, Eddie Lee is a free man. His case was dismissed right before the jury went into deliberations. Eddie Lee's defense attorney cited CA Penal Code. That case was also heard by Judge Feeney and it was prosecuted by former DA Paul Gallegos.

The other key players in the alleged murder are Lee's sister and Lee's former girlfriend, who has been on the EPD Most Wanted poster for months.

You can read extensive coverage of the Lee jury trial on this blog. No other media covered that trial.

Jan 20, 2015

Rest of Measure Z Advisory Committee finalized

The rest of the Measure Z Advisory Committee, is as follows: Sheriff Downey will represent his office and other public safety agencies;  Barney Anderson will represent the Fire Chief's Association.

The two at-large members are: Adam Jager and Lora Canzoneri.

The two alternates are: Glenn Ziemer and John McFarland.

Frank DeMarco as Interim County Counsel?

Wendy Chaitin, who is retiring and just did her last report for closed session from the Board of Supervisor's morning session said that the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted unanimously to direct CAO Hanes to enter into agreement with Frank DeMarco of the Hanson Bridgett Law Firm for interim County Counsel.

This is Ms. Chaitin's last meeting.

Jason Omholdt of Eureka's Most Wanted apprehended and booked

On 01/19/15, the Eureka Police Department received information from multiple sources that wanted fugitive, Jason Ryan Omholt (36), may be in possession of a recently stolen green 1994 Chrysler minivan. Omholt had been on the run from law enforcement for some time, and he’d managed to evade capture by eluding officers on several occasions.

Omholt and a female companion are suspected of committing numerous residential burglaries around Eureka. He has been prominently featured in EPD’s Eureka’s Most Wanted poster with outstanding felony warrants for vehicle theft, assault with a deadly weapon, evading police, vandalism, possession of controlled substance, and parole revocation.

After receiving the information concerning his association with the stolen van, EPD officers began scouring the city looking for the vehicle.  During the early morning hours of 01-20-15, officers located the van parked unoccupied on the 1800 block of 3rd Street, Eureka. Officers subsequently searched a nearby apartment with consent from the owner and pursuant to a resident’s probation status.
Omholt was located inside a partially barricaded back bedroom in the apartment. As officers attempted to enter the room, Omholt immediately fled by jumping out of a rear window. Officers positioned around the outside perimeter of the apartment intercepted Omholt and took him into custody after a short struggle.
During a search incident to his arrest, Omholt was found to be in possession of the keys to the stolen van. Officers also collected property belonging to Omholt from inside the apartment. During a later search of Omholt’s possessions, officers identified property that had been stolen during a recent residential burglary in Eureka.  Additionally, Omholt was found to be in possession of narcotics (heroin) and concentrated cannabis.
Omholt was arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where in addition to his multiple felony warrants, he was booked on fresh charges including possession of concentrated cannabis, possession of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property, and possession of a stolen vehicle.  Omholt is currently being held without bail for violation of his parole.
Additionally, EPD has referred multiple other cases involving Omholt to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office (residential burglary, vehicle theft, felony reckless evading etc.), and additional charges may follow.

Courts are need in space now and " the Judges want us to light a fire under the State for a new court facility and keep it on this block"

Getting a new courthouse facility and why it hasn't happened is complicated.

CAO Phillip Smith-Hanes in response to my question to Board Chair Estelle Fennell said, 'how long do we have?" I would like to thank County CAO Phillip Smith-Hanes for his candid answers today to my question.

The question was regarding a to resolution before the Board of Supervisors to send a letter that the CAO's office was asking to be sent to the Judicial Council of California to make a commitment of land to build a new courthouse for the Humboldt Superior County Courts.

The Board did approve this resolution, it will now be forwarded to the Humboldt County Superior Court who will send it to the Judicial Council of California. They are the state organization that oversees courts and provide funding.

CAO Hanes said that Supervisors Rex Bohn and Virginia Bass as well as a "couple of Humboldt Superior Court Judges" have been working on additional court space.

"The Judges want us to light a fire under the state for a new court facility and to keep it on this block." The state has only be dragging their feet since 1997 (see letter below)

CAO Hanes said the group is seeking efforts to "secure an economic opportunity and hoping to begin a dialogue with the State." If the State does not chose the location mentioned in the letter below, CAO Hanes said that "we have other plans like a permanent parking" for that location. CAO Hanes said they were hoping to get this facility into the Governor's next funding cycle which is 2016-2017.

County Public Works Director Tom Mattson said that while there was not "fully architectural plans" designed, "there was a full facility design but funding was pulled."

At this point I asked, "So, is my understanding that if we don't get funding from the state, we will not have a new Courthouse facility?"

CA Hanes responded, "We are currently in a situation where Courts have need for additional space right now. The 'good news' and I put good in air quotes is that we have been able to keep the Courts in one location because we have a Judgeship that has not been funded. When that Judgeship is funded, they will need a Court right away. The options would be to find another space in another location or to keep the Civil Courts together and the Criminal Courts together. This would create complications for the County in terms of safety and transportation."

Letter regarding new Courthouse:

Date: December 30, 2014
To: Board of Supervisors
From: Phillip Smith-Hanes, County Administrative Officer
Subject: Resolution Regarding Commitment of Land to Build a New Courthouse for the Superior
Court of California, County of Humboldt
That the Board of Supervisors approves the attached Resolution and directs staff to forward it to the
Superior Court for transmittal to the Judicial Council of California.
SOURCE OF FUNDING: Not applicable.
For more than 20 years, the county has held title to a vacant lot adjacent to the east side ofthe correctional facility between Fourth and Fifth Streets, accessed off K Street, in the City of Eureka. For most of this period, the lot has served as overflow parking for county and court employees. It is largely unpaved and this creates maintenance issues.
The original intent of acquiring the lot was to site a courthouse on the property. However, in 1997 the
courts transferred to state responsibility. Since that time, the state has not moved forward with construction of a new courthouse in Eureka despite the documented need of the local courts for additional...(read rest on Humboldt County website where agenda is posted)

Ginger Campbell, Mike Newman, Shon Wellborn, John Flyer and Helen Edwards are board appointments on Measure Z committee

The at large appointments by the Board of Supervisors as well as Fire Chief and Sheriff's representative appointments will be discussed and finalized during the afternoon session of the Board of Supervisors meeting.

This morning after two requests from the public, instead of just filing an informational report on their appointments, thanks to Supervisor Ryan Sundberg and Estelle Fennell, the Board shared who they appointed.

Each Board member explsined a bit about why they picked the person from their individual district. You can watch that on video to learn more about each appoingment. Each member mentioned budget knowledge for each appointment. Supervisor Sundberg appointed Helen Edwards from Mckinleyville, Supervisor Mark Lovelace appointed Ginger Campbell from Arcata, Supervisor Rex Bohn appointed John Flyer from Loleta, Chair Fennell appointed Shon Wellborn from Sohum and Supervisor Bass appointed former City of Eureka Councilmember Mike Newman. Supervisor Bass added that Mr. Newman brings a perspective important, especially in Eureka. That perspective is is on dealing with mental health issues and homelessness.

Jan 19, 2015

New Courthouse for Superior Court, Measure Z appointments and Carolyn Crinch recognized at tommorow's Board of Supervisor morning session

Plenty of reasons to attend tomorrow's morning session of the Board of County Supervisor meeting. Agenda is available online.

Letter regarding new Courthouse:

Date: December 30, 2014
To: Board of Supervisors
From: Phillip Smith-Hanes, County Administrative Officer ffi*
Subject: Resolution Regarding Commitment of Land to Build a New Courthouse for the Superior
Court of California, County of Humboldt
That the Board of Supervisors approves the attached Resolution and directs staff to forward it to the
Superior Court for transmittal to the Judicial Council of California.
SOURCE OF FUNDING: Not applicable.
For more than 20 years, the county has held title to a vacant lot adjacent to the east side ofthe correctional facility between Fourth and Fifth Streets, accessed off K Street, in the City of Eureka. For most of this period, the lot has served as overflow parking for county and court employees. It is largely unpaved and this creates maintenance issues.
The original intent of acquiring the lot was to site a courthouse on the property. However, in 1997 the
courts transferred to state responsibility. Since that time, the state has not moved forward with construction of a new courthouse in Eureka despite the documented need ofthe local courts for additional...

From "rags to riches"; a Humboldt County entrepreneur shares his success story

John Fullerton was was raised by a single mom who was a school teacher. “We were so poor that my younger brother and I literally put cardboard in our shoes to make them last longer,” said Fullerton.

This did not deter him from rising above his humble circumstances to being a successful local business owner today. Surviving 32 years in Humboldt County speaks to Fullerton’s determination and success.

By the time he was a Junior in College, he had five other students working for him part time and they did yard maintenance service as well as trash hauling.  At the start of his Senior year in college, he sold the business and lived off that sale and his savings.  He continued to work four hours per month doinga bookkeeping job for a teacher’s union.  This was to to concentrate on school as he had 18 units for the last two semesters.

Fullerton paid all his own expenses during college.   His first accounting job after graduation was “a pay cut from my trash hauling days!”

Fullerton opened his current business in May 1983.  “The first month in business I grossed $25 before expenses. My first client paid me $15 to balance his check register.”

“I wanted to frame that first check and put it on my wall like some local retail stores do with their first dollar,  but I needed the money.  So I cashed it and a month later I called the client. He got the cancelled check from the bank and gave it to me.   It is now framed & hung on my office wall.”

Today Fullerton’s business consists of almost 100 business clients and over 1,300 individual clients. He currently employs seven full-time and two part-time people.

Fullerton has lived in Eureka since 1976 and  has volunteered in the local community for 37 years. This includes the Eureka Planning Commission, Eureka School Board, Eureka Chamber of Commerce, CASA, Rotary Club of Eureka, South Bay School Board Member, Redwood Acres Fair Board, Humboldt County Budget Oversight Committee, Humboldt County Community Budget Task Force, Humboldt CPA/LAW Review Advisory Board Member , Citizen's Advisory Committee (Eureka area), Inmate Welfare Fund Committee, Eureka Heritage Society,  Redwood Community Action Agency,  Humboldt Historical Society and others listed on his website.

To contact him, call (707) 444-3874 or visit www.fullerton-cpa.com for more information.

Jan 18, 2015

Both sides of courthouse have people "standing for life"

From 2 to 3 p.m., Humboldt County men, women and families stood on both sides of the Courthouse "for respect for all life from conception to grave."

You'd be surprised how many people honked and waved, almost one every minute.

Jan 17, 2015

Do concerns about the environment and wetlands only apply to projects that the Coastal Commission politically disapproves of?

The Language of the Coastal Act Section 30240 commonly known as environmentally sensitive habitat area does not promote erosion, changes in topography or actively promote erosion. This was reiterated in an email to a local concerned citizen by Larry Simon, Federal Consistency Coordinator of the Coastal Commission. Restoration is allowed.

 Locally, only the County can issue a coastal permit and only the Coastal Commission can issue  consistency determination  to approve projects in environmentally sensitive habitat

There have been articles and letters to the editor in the past few months raising concerns about the management of local coastal dunes and after being approached by some members of the community, there are some questions about certain projects that should be investigated and answers given to the public. For the average person, it is easy to get lost into technical language and studies being cited. 

These are not corporate projects. These are projects by organizations such as Friends of the Dunes,
 Manila Community District, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management.

These groups purport to protect the environment.

In the last several  years, there have been several projects that have claimed vegetation removal does not affect the dunes. One such project is near the state park at the north end of Clam Beach.  The cost of this project according Uri Driscoll, is about 1 million dollars.

Uri is not the only person raising concerns but he has been the one who has spoken up about it, most recently. 

According to Uri, many projects obtained permits claiming that moving vegetation would not have deterimental effects and affect wetlands or wildlife. Using the same project near the north end of the clam beach, there have not been "any chicks hatched in the last 6 or 7 years." This area regularly produced chicks.

A county planner planner, Trevor Oslow , is also on the board of the Friends of the Dunes. He
signed off on their permit. Isn't this a conflict of interest?

Here are some questions that members of the community want answered and they want dialogue in a public, transparent forum:

How much money is being spent? Who is funding the beach grass eradication projects?
Are there unintended consequences?
Are there claims that were made in the permits yet there have been effects being seen today that are different?
Where is oversight and who is monitoring the organizations that issue the permits?
How can the public participate in the beach and dune managment process?
Has the snowy plover populations actually benefited from these projects?
What are the affects on topography, wildlife, wetlands etc and how are they being measured?
Who are the players and what is actually at stake?
What effect did the Manila lawsuit have on eradication efforts there? Were wetland restoration grant monies used properly?

There have been projects blocked by the Coastal Commission citing concerns for the environment. Are wetlands and consequences to the environment and approval by the Coastal Commission and County dependent on who is backing the projects. In times when we get told California is broke and there aren't funds to pay for jails, for food for children who need it and other important concerns, why is no one questioning the salaries and monitoring a bureaucrats that think they are above answering to the public that pays their salary?