☛TS Murder arraignment closed to the public 2/12/09
Two men alleged to have stabbed a Eureka man to death during a robbery spree were arraigned in a hearing closed to the public Wednesday on charges of robbery, attempted robbery and murder, according to Humboldt County Sheriff's spokeswoman Brenda Godsey.
John Lewis Way, 30, and James Robert Stanko, 26, are alleged to have committed a string of five robberies and attempted robberies over a 25-minute span Friday night -- a string that culminated in Andrew Pease, 36, of Eureka, being stabbed to death in the parking lot of Ray's Food Place on Broadway.
In an arraignment held at the Humboldt County jail due to flooding in the Humboldt County courthouse, Stanko and Way were arraigned on charges of robbery, murder and five counts of attempted robbery, according to Godsey, who said she did not know whether the men entered pleas.
A Times-Standard request to attend the proceeding was denied by jail administrators, who cited security concerns. Numerous calls placed to members of the District Attorney's Office seeking the outcome of the arraignment were not returned, and those who were reached said they did not know.
The courthouse was closed and evacuated Wednesday afternoon due to mass flooding reportedly caused by a faulty valve in a second-floor bathroom. Arraignments scheduled to take place in the afternoon were moved to the jail, according to Godsey.
Because Way and Stanko are alleged to have committed murder in the course of a felony -- in this case an attempted robbery -- District Attorney Paul Gallegos said his office could choose to seek the death penalty in the case, but has yet to make that decision.
☛ HH Crime spree victim killed EPD Press release
☛ TS One man dead after a rash of robberies in Eureka 2/9/09
Three men were arrested Friday evening on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and homicide after a string of knife robberies over the course of one hour left a 36-year-old Eureka man dead....
...Eureka Police officers, with the assistance of Humboldt County Sheriff's Deputies, located the vehicle at the 1800 block of Buhne Drive in King Salmon. Three suspects were taken into custody, and a search warrant was later served.
Thirty-year-old John Lewis Way of Eureka, 27-year-old Daniel Joseph Dower of Nevada, and 26-year-old James Robert Stanko of Santa Cruz were all booked on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and homicide....
☛ TS EPD seeks witnesses in fatal stabbing case 2/10/09
☛ TS Any moment 2/10/09
☛ TS Witnesses make the difference 2/11/09
☛ TS Two robbery spree suspects charged; arraignment today 2/11/09
☛ JN Witness recounts stabbing death 2/12/09
☛ TS An unfinished song: Memorial service scheduled Saturday 2/13/09
...Way and Stanko pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, robbery and five counts of attempted robbery during a Wednesday arraignment that was closed to the public due to flooding at the courthouse. They remain held in Humboldt County jail on $1 million bail, and are due back in court today for a bail hearing.
Meanwhile, Andrew Pease's family and friends are left confronting lives irrevocably changed, and remembering the man they glowingly described as genuine, kind and unflinchingly devoted to his family.
☛ TS Judge issues gag order in murder case 2/20/09
◼ Stanko pleads in Pease's murder; Eureka man to be sentenced to 26 years to life in prison in plea deal
On the eve of trial, James Robert Stanko pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of murder in an agreement that will see him sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison for his role in the Feb. 6, 2009, stabbing death of Andrew Pease.
With jury selection slated to begin Wednesday in his trial, Stanko entered into a plea agreement with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday in which he agreed to plead guilty to charges of murder, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery with a total prison term of 26 years to life, according to court minutes obtained from Humboldt County court records.
As a part of the plea, Stanko waived all rights to appeal, according to the minutes.
Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison declined to comment on the plea agreement Wednesday, citing a gag order that has been in place in the case since February 2009 and prohibits members of law enforcement, attorneys and court employees from discussing the case publicly. Stanko's attorney, public defender Kevin Robinson, did not return a Times-Standard phone call seeking comment.
Stanko, 28, and James Robert Way, 31, both of Eureka, were on an armed robbery spree through the city on Feb. 6, 2009, having committed six in less than an hour, before they arrived in the parking lot of Ray's Food Place on Broadway. There, they attempted to rob Pease, a 36-year-old Army veteran and father of two, who was working with a developmentally disabled teen at the time. The details of the altercation remain unclear, but Pease was reportedly stabbed 13 times and died within minutes as Way and Stanko fled the scene....
Way pleaded guilty in March to charges of voluntary manslaughter, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery. He was sentenced to serve 18 years, four months in prison.
Stanko, who police have fingered as the one who stabbed Pease, seemed poised to stand trial until entering into the plea agreement Wednesday....