Friday, August 21, 2009

Guilty plea planned for Hoopa man in cyclist's death

Guilty plea planned for Hoopa man in cyclist's death
A Hoopa man told the court Thursday that he wanted to plead guilty to the charges against him stemming from a collision that killed a bicyclist last summer -- but he'll have to wait two weeks.

Thursday was set as 27-year-old Alan Bear's pre-trial hearing. His defense attorney Manny Daskal told the court Bear intended to plead guilty. However, because an amended complaint had been filed the court required a second arraignment in two weeks. Bear will be able to plead guilty then.

Bear is accused of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and other traffic violations in connection with the collision that killed 42-year-old bicyclist and local botanist Gregory Jennings on Aug. 25, 2008, according to court documents.

Daskal said Bear was willing to plead guilty after Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos reduced the vehicle manslaughter charge from a felony to a misdemeanor on July 2.

”We always felt the case was overcharged,” he said.

Gallegos said the charge was reduced because the reporting officer revised his statement on the collision and it did not appear that Bear acted with gross negligence.

”Further investigation proved that it was not gross negligence or at least that we couldn't prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt,” Gallegos said at the preliminary hearing.

The collision that killed Jennings is a tragedy and the case had gone on long enough for the victim's family and friends, and for Bear, Daskal said.

”It's time to get it over with,” he said.

Bear's arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 3.


  1. Does anyone know why the cop changed his story and what he said? Originally, the charge was felony gross negligence, then it wasn't. What did the cop say to change this?


  2. That's a very good question.

  3. Well, at what point does the testimony become public?


  4. Cyclist, the facts are the facts. It is obvious that either Paul didn't read the reports here.

    But, I want you to think about this: it is not the officer who determines what the law is, it is the DA. The cop doesn't have the law degree. So in the end, it didn't matter squat what the officer's opinion was, it was the facts that were controlling. Either the facts supported gross negligence or not. What I am disgusted by is the fact that Paul pawned this responsibility off on the cop. It was his responsibility to determine that and he didn't. He owed a huge duty to the family and friends of this man who lost his life, and like usual, Paul let everyone down.

  5. You don't understand the legal process. The DA is bound by evidence. When the evidence changes the DA would be wasting everyone's time to insist on charges that any defense atty would easily take apart--and thus get his client off with NOTHING. Is that what you want?

  6. Aha - a moment in clarity. Yes, the DA is bound by the evidence. He is not, I repeat, bound by the opinion of an officer with no legal training. Nothing new was discovered by subsequent investigation. The DA charged it with the same evidence. Then decided he was in deep shit and then used the officer's opinion to dump it.

  7. The DA is bound by evidence.

    That sure as shit didn't stop him in the Palco case - he only uses that when it suits him. Ignores it otherwise.

    Remember the gong show? You're off the stage bud (6:31)

  8. You are correct Rose. The problem with this DA is that while he should be bound by the evidence, he actually isn't because he fabricates cases AGAINST those who are political targets of his supporters. Tragic, but so true.

  9. "Nothing new was discovered by subsequent investigation"

    I realize that's what you need to believe, however, you may not be correct. When all of the evidence is released to the public, we'll be in a position to evaluate this case. Not before.

    Meanwhile, don't expect a DA to convict without the necessary evidence. Whether you like it or not, a statement from a police officer who was at the scene constitutes much more than "an opinion." It can and will be used by a defense attorney to create reasonable doubt if a DA is over reaching his evidence in any way.

    You have to ask yourself if you want the DA to ignore the guilty plea he has and gamble on an all or nothing legal strategy for a felony conviction that may not be supported by evidence.

  10. NO. I do not expect him to gamble anything. That is NOT what he is supposed to do. If the evidence is not there, he is NOT supposed to go fro a conviction just because he wants one. THAT, frankly has been his failingn all along.

    AND - the Highway Patrol Officer is not an attorney.

    He is.

  11. Cyclist - I am told that you cannot get the report. Checking more.

  12. It's increasingly clear that the evidence to support of felony charge is simply not there. Alas, loud, indignant demands do not equal evidence.

    Any defense atty would have a field day with an equivocating CHP officer. Better take what you can get on this one and move on. With or without PG you won't get any further with the existing evidence.

  13. I understand why Gallegos couldn't charge the felony. The stupid part is I doubt being stoned would affect a person's driving as much as the situation described here. I think that it is gross negligence to treat your vehicle like a dining room table.

  14. The driver made one wrong move and he's paying for it. When you are stoned EVERY move you make in a car is wrong. You absolutely cannot operate machinery when you are stoned and should never drive.

  15. "Whether you like it or not, a statement from a police officer who was at the scene constitutes much more than "an opinion"

    Actually it is a legal conclusion that he doesn't get to testify to.

    What is apparent is that Gallegos either didn't do his job in the first place and accurately look at the facts before charging this guy (politics?) or he caved and is blaming the officer.

    God bless Mr. Jennings and his family.

  16. I realize you'd enjoy lynching the driver but it's not going to bring the dead man back.

    Willfully failing to understand the legal process isn't going to do it either. This just isn't a case where you can blame the DA. Nobody "caved in;" the evidence simply won't support a felony conviction. The driver is looking at jail time. Take it or leave it.

  17. Will he spend more or less time in jail than The Toddler wanderer's dad would have if Gallegos had prevailed in that case?

    Marsh was charged with child endangerment - likely to produce great bodily harm or death - for allegedly allowing his two-year old son Everett to step off a curb 18 inches into the crosswalk at Main and Brown.... Marsh could have faced two years in jail....

    Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos after he was asked by The Enterprise if it was appropriate for his office to be prosecuting Sean Marsh....

    Originally the DA's office told The Enterprise the case was "rejected" due to further investigation needed. However, Gallegos on Tuesday said, according to the file, a complaint request was received June 1 and filed on June 5.

    "It was not originally rejected," he stated.

    However further clarification with the criminal desk at the DA's office shows that a "statement of probable cause" from the FPD was filed on June 5 and not a complaint. "The case was declined on June 1 "due to further investigation needed." And it was not until July 18 that the case was reopened...

    ...the detention slip from the jail provided to The Enterprise states that Marsh was released from jail because "there was insufficient grounds for making a criminal complaint."

    ..."I think every attorney, if you're going to trial, should go and look at the site." said Gallegos, adding that it's the state's duty to enforce the laws.

    "We have an obligation as parents to try and take reasonable steps to protect our children," he said. "When a parent fails to do that, the state has to step in and do that."

    Gallegos commented on the fact that he has children as well and knows that "kids do run off."

    "It certainly is a fine line," he said. "Is it the most egregious conduct in the world? No. But there is, quite frankly, not necessarily egregious conduct and we have to prosecute. Those are the laws. we then give it to a jury and let them decide what they think about it."...

    Just to compare and contrast.

  18. Apples and oranges, Rose, as you know.

    Look, I think it's a good idea to "watch" public officials, but you need to stick with facts lest you end up scapegoating instead of "watching" Gallegos.

  19. frankly, I don't think it is scapegoating to point out the extreme disconnect between who gets prosecuted and who doesn't.

    Just look at who has gotten all of his effort, vs. those he has either plea bargained or otherwise caved or declined to prosecute - for God's sake.

    It's VERY VERY clear.

    Look who is getting let go, vs, who has had the full weight of his office thrown at them.

  20. Being stoned does not make "every move you make in a car" wrong. That is pure sensationalism. I'm not saying to roll a blunt before that next road trip, but I've never known a single person who was involved in a traffic accident due to being stoned. I know the cannabis haters would like to believe that it has more effect than it actually does. You can keep believing that, I won't stop you.

    Still, paying attention to stupid crap like your coffee mug while driving at high speeds on the freeway is utterly dangerous. It is not just a simple mistake. Maybe you make this mistake and can sympathize, but that does not make it okay. I feel that is it dumb that drivers are allowed to be doing all sorts of distracting things while driving and not be charged with negligence.

  21. Mr Nice:

    You're dead wrong. Here are the studies, if you can still manage to read a scientific paper...

  22. Some things, much as we may not like it, are simply tragic accidents.

  23. 9:33 - it is evident that you only about half know what you are talking about. You must be one of the incompetents blogging on county time from that office. Either that or you could be an apologist that doesn't know shit from shinola. At this point I am hoping (and praying) it is the latter and NOT the former. You said," the evidence simply won't support a felony conviction." Ok, according to your crystal ball (assuming your are the latter and not the former) then Gallegos should not have charged it as a felony if the evidence wasn't there. The "evidence" didn't disappear, the officer's opinion (which is a legal conclusion) changed. If Gallegos charged it as a felony because the officer initially asked for it and the evidence wasn't there, then he bungled his elected responsibility to look at the facts and to charge it accordingly. (Now if you are the "former" that explains to the rest of us why this shit keeps on happening again and again and again.)

    The DA's office owes the Jenning's family an apology, the cycling community an apology, the rest of us an apology and should quit sucking at the public teat taking money for sucking period.

  24. 1:08 I am not associated with the DA or with law enforcement. However, I do understand the legal process. You might want to review the laws on evidentiary exclusions.

    If you know of actual evidence that has not been reviewed you should bring it to the attention of the DA. That would be a helpful step, begging for an apology and hurling insults in every direction serves no purpose.

  25. Ah...just as I thought. You are the latter. An uninformed ideologue on the blog to just bullshit. Nice try, but it is quite apparent that you don not know the legal process, nor the laws on evidentiary exclusions.

    Now go back to whatever you are supposed to be doing at the DA's office. If you feel the truth is insulting, you may stay off of this blog as well as the Mirror.

  26. Heh - they certainly have been nailing it - nice to know I am not entirely alone anymore.

  27. Thank you, Sherlock Holmes! I am both an "uninformed ideologue" (??) and a member of the DA's office.

    Maybe you should stick to second guessing the courts.

    Rose, I'm not opposed to your efforts to hold the DA accountable, but it seems like you are over reaching on this case. The evidence just isn't there to carry it further without risking a mistrial.

  28. No evidence? Ok..he should not have charged it then. You can't have it both ways.

  29. How am I overreaching? All I have done is post a link to the story.

    Other people are asking bigger questions - deservedly so.

    And cyclist - Investigative Reports are exempt from a Public Records Act Request. This means they cannot be COMPELLED to give it to you if they don't want to. IF, however, you ask, they MAY give it to you. More likely to do so if you are family. I don't think they would give it to me if I walked into the CHP office, for example, but you could, (or a family member could, and it is worth a try.

  30. "anonymous": If I can still manage to read a scientific paper? What the hell?

    From the link you sent me to:

    ... However, after adjustment for these confounders plus other risky driving at the time of the crash (blood alcohol concentration, seat-belt use, travelling speed and sleepiness score), the effect of acute marijuana intake was no longer significant (OR 0.8, 95% CI 0.2–3.3). There was a strong significant association between habitual use and car crash injury after adjustment for all the above confounders plus acute use prior to driving (OR 9.5, 95% CI 2.8–32.3).

    If you can still manage to interpret odds-ratios, more injuries clearly occur after acute use. That is pretty solid even considering the sample size. Still, this says nothing about low doses of cannabis affecting driving skills. Need another study for that.

    Look at this other study:

    This suggests a clear relationship between a high dose and traffic collisions. You have to take into account that the stated high dosage is equivalent to $20 worth of product at once which is not normal.

    If you can still manage to afford the full version of this paper, it states that "The latter analysis suggests that traffic accident risk among cannabis users is
    related to their life style rather than to cannabis use per se."

    If you can manage to read anymore:

    Notice the conclusion that cannabis is significantly lower in its contribution to fatal crashes.

    If you can still manage to objectively analyze available data, the jury is still out on whether a low dose of cannabis _alone_ is a serious contributing factor to car accidents. I still think that the concept of cannabis itself being a serious danger on the road is sensationalized. Minor alcohol intoxication is still a threat and cell phone use an even bigger threat. Like I said before, I don't advocate smoking a blunt behind the wheel, but to say that someone who has some amount of cannabis in their bloodstream will automatically drive like a drunk is preposterous. Yes it has a deleterious effect on driving skill, but nowhere near what people speculate this effect to be.


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