Friday, September 04, 2009

A one year sentence.

Man sentenced to one year for bicyclist's death
Hoopa resident Alan Bear pleaded no contest Thursday to his involvement in the collision that killed a Blue Lake bicyclist last year and was sentenced to one year in jail.

More than two dozen family members and friends of 42-year-old victim Gregory Jennings came to court to witness Bear's sentencing. Bear received one year in county jail with three years probation upon his release.

Bear pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and making an unsafe lane movement in connection with the collision that killed Jennings on Aug. 25, 2008....

...”I express my deepest apologies for what I've done ...,” he said. “It was a tragic accident.”

Bear began to choke up with emotion about halfway through his statement. He said Jennings' death has greatly impacted him.

”I don't sleep well at night and my whole life ... is messed up,” he said....

Five of Jennings' family members and one witness to the collision made statements to the court.
Gregory Jennings' stepmother, Terri Jennings, said she was in court in place of Jennings' mother, who was having surgery that day. Terri Jennings told the court that her stepson was someone people turned to for advice and who “cared about everyone.”

”He was loved beyond description and it's not an exaggeration that it's devastated our entire family,” she said.

Gregory Jennings was a Humboldt State University graduate who became a botanist and built a house that his father designed, Terri Jennings said.

Rebecca Perry told the court she was driving right behind Bear when he struck Jennings. She was with her two children, ages 10 and 7, and her husband at the time. Perry said her children have been traumatized by the experience.

”They have had trouble getting back on their bikes because of this incident ...,” she said. “When we look at the pictures of the first day of school, it brings back bad memories.”

Even when the family's vehicle passes by a bicyclist, the children panic, she said.


  1. The charge should have been felony manslaughter with gross negligence.

    Add bicycle activists to the growing list of progressives that are tired of putting up with Gallegos' bad judgment.

  2. Apparently, there wasn't evidence to support a felony charge. If you know of actual EVIDENCE to support such a charge that the DA hasn't seen, why haven't you brought it to his attention?

  3. Why, because he is incompetent, lazy and won't do his job. Apparently, you don't know him very well.

  4. 5:31, you didn't answer the question. Please, provide the evidence.

  5. Tell you what, why don't you ask your buddy Paul Gallegos about the evidence? He is, after all, the fellow who initially charged a felony. So he charged a case as a felony when he did not have the evidence to sustain that charge. That kind of makes him an idiot, does it not? Or he changed his mind because he is a craven jackanapes. Your call.

  6. In other words, you don't have any evidence and you're blowing hot air.

    As you should know, the officer modified his report to the extent that a felony conviction was no longer supportable by evidence. In lieu of additional evidence, which you refuse to supply, Gallegos would have been wide open to a dismissal if he had insisted on an unsupportable charge.

  7. Are you saying that finally, after years getting a law degree, and after having been in office SINCE 2003, he has FINALLY figured that out?

    Are you saying he has learned? Man. The guy is a quick study.

  8. Distracting himself while driving near a bicyclist.

    Swerving off the road and killing someone as a direct result of distracting himself.

    Not aware of the rules of the road in regards to bicyclists.

    Lying to the police.

    Apathetic at the scene of the crime.

  9. Shane,

    Items 1 and 2 were prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law, given the reports filed by police. Items 3 and 4 are not relevant.

    Do you have new evidence...or not?

  10. Actually, even the so-called "items 1 and 2" are not supported by any evidence.

    This was a tragic accident. The driver is being relentlessly persecuted by vengeful friends and relatives of the deceased because they all assume that an American Indian must have been out of control.

  11. OH! The RACE card! That's rich!

    Unbelievable, absolutely friggin' unbelievable.

  12. Let me explain something, 11:04. I am a deputy district attorney in a rural Northern California county (not Humboldt). I have charged vehicle cases, I have tried vehicle cases. Evidence, in a case involving a collision, consists of physical evidence (tire friction marks, fragments of the involved vehicles, marks [such as gouges] made by the involved vehicles) and the spatial relationships of the physical evidence or the lack of physical evidence; experts can look at the physical evidence and form opinions about what happened, in essence reconstruct the accident (i.e. where is the area of impact, how fast were the involved vehicles traveling at impact, did either vehicle brake prior to impact, etc.). An expert's opinion is evidence. But an expert's opinion must have a foundation in the physical evidence. So, when you charge a collision case, you look at the physical evidence gathered at the scene. You then look at the opinion evidence. (The investigating officer is usually going to be your collision expert, especially a CHP investigation with a fatality). The question you have to ask in charging a collision case is, does the physical evidence support the opinion evidence? And that is my problem with PVG's actions here. Either the evidence for gross negligence was never there, in which case it should not initially have been charged as a felony, or it was there, in which case it should not have been reduced to a misdemeanor simply because the IO changed his mind. And frankly it is fairly chickenshit to try to fob the reponsibility off on the chippie. If this was an EPD officer who did the same thing, would PVG have reduced the charge? Maybe the misdo was the right decision, I don't know, but you cannot escape the fact that if it was appropriately a misdo then PVG screwed it up when he charged a felony. I should note that I posted as anon at 9:18 and again here because my google log-in is bollixed up, I usually post as -

  13. "OH! The RACE card! That's rich!

    Unbelievable, absolutely friggin' unbelievable."

    Sorry Rose but your outburst doesn't make it less true. As you know.

  14. It strikes me as more likely that the victim's family and friends believe the driver was out of control because he admitted that he was out of control by pleading guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

  15. No, he admitted he LOST control. For you that would have meant a blip on your insurance payments. For an Indian it meant a mob screaming for blood.

  16. What the victim's family and friends "believe" is irrelevant.

  17. Red, You've intentionally mischaracterized the evidentiary process. Why?

    If you are really in a DA's office, you should know how the system works: evidence does indeed depend on IO testimony and if that testimony changes, and you over reach on the charges, you're wide open for a defense motion to dismiss.

    Gallegos may have flaws but this case isn't one of them. He did the only thing a DA can do when faced with a community that is terrified to speak out on any police matter.

  18. I'm sorry, but to the people I know who are upset about this case, race is not even a factor.

    BUT, there are some people who believe Gallegos' desire for Tribal funds affects his charging (and dismissing) decisions. Maybe that is reverse racism. If you twist it the right way.

    As always - his schizophrenic decisions do not inspire any confidence.

  19. The "people who are upset about this case" appear to be mostly vengeful family members of the deceased and people like Rose who are nursing a blind hatred for our DA no matter what he does. If Gallegos agreed to draw and quarter the driver, this crowd wouldn't be satisfied. Evidence indicates that this was probably just a tragic accident with some contributing negligence by the driver. He's going to jail for a year for the negligence part. I think we have to leave it there.

    Ruining another Indian's life isn't going to accomplish anything.

  20. "race is not even a factor."

    When have we ever heard a racist cop to her prejudice?

  21. Stop it. This has nothing to do with Indian or not Indian.

    ALTHOUGH - Gallegos does have a history that seems to indicate that his desire for Tribal donations gets in the way of his charging decisions.

    You're trying to convince people that he suddenly saw the light and realized he had mischarged this guy - I guess you feel the same way about Derek Bowman's nine felonies that were swept up and dismissed on a single day...

    Remember this? ER - Gallegos sidesteps questions about possible conflict of interest in Bowman charges
    ...A large contribution to the successful 2006 re-election campaign of Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos has raised questions the DA has so far declined to answer, after it was learned that the son of the man chiefly responsible for the contribution subsequently escaped punishment on numerous criminal charges, including one alleging the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl.

    According to Fair Political Practices Commission filings, the donation, in the amount of $10,000, was the single largest monetary contribution received by the campaign of the incumbent DA from any contributor whose last name was not Gallegos.

    FPPC documents indicate that the contribution was recorded April 29, and attributed to the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, which is chaired by Leonard Bowman, father of Derek Bowman, 25, both of Loleta.

    The younger Bowman’s association with law enforcement spans two states and 11 years, and includes as many as 40 criminal charges ranging from assault with a deadly weapon as a juvenile to three charges alleging violence against one adult and two juvenile females in 2006.

    But on July 19, less than six weeks after Gallegos was re-elected, the DA’s Office gathered nine felonies and a handful of misdemeanors pending against Derek, and dismissed or suspended sentence on all of them in a single day.

    According to publicly available court documents, recent charges against Derek included felony statutory rape, five counts of felony check fraud against local businesses, felony burglary, felony threats, felony battery, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor resisting arrest....

    He's got an election coming up - and BIG tribal donations to be had. Maybe you're right.

  22. I don't know what the best resolution – if such a thing exists – of this case would be, but I am pretty sure of a couple things:

    1. Anon, 5:15, "accident" is a misnomer. Whenever we allow ourselves to be distracted, whether by cell phones, lighting a cigarette, changing the radio station, eating a sandwich, etc., we choose to put ourselves and others at risk. Hence, collisions are not accidents, but are caused by someone failing to drive with proper caution. The only exception would be if someone threw themselves in front of a vehicle and the driver did not have time to avoid impact. Otherwise, if you're driving a car, you're expected to not strike anything. Pretty basic driver's ed.

    2. "ism"s (sexism, racism, classism, etc.) are the result of prejudice plus power, hence "reverse racism" can't be said to exist. Without power, it's just prejudice, which is bad, but differs from the sort of institutionalized isms we've been trying to correct in American culture, especially over the past several decades. I do agree with Rose, however, that ethnicity has not been part of this case – it's all to do with careless driving causing the death of an innocent cyclist and determining the appropriate punishment for such a terrible thing.

  23. Jennifer,

    The cyclist veered into traffic--perhaps he hit a pothole or rock-- and the Indian driver cut to the right hoping to avoid a collision. Didn't work.

    A white man would have apologized profusely for the accident and that would have been that.

  24. Rose,

    I don't see Gallegos culling favor with any Indians over this conviction. Indeed, it will be seen as heavy handed because the cyclist should have been set free. It was a tragic accident.

  25. Greg Jennings did not veer into traffic. The driver swerved completely off the freeway onto the shoulder, striking Jennings, who was riding as far to the right as possible, with the driver's side front of his truck.

    I am sure Jennings' family and friends, as well as safe transportation advocates, would be just as devastated and hoping for just outcome if "a white man" had hit him. Only in your comments is ethnicity an issue.

    I don't typically engage with people who post anonymously, but the inaccuracy of your comments inspired response. At this point, though, I have nothing to add and no reason to engage in conversation with someone unwilling to identify him/herself. Hopefully we'll all be motivated to do something constructive by this tragedy, perhaps supporting better safety for cyclists and being more attentive drivers.

  26. "n a telephone interview, Manny Daskal, Bear’s attorney, said gross negligence is applicable in DUI cases and the recent death that was caused by drag racing on Route 299. “It was clear to me, from the reports I read at the beginning of the case, that there was no gross negligence here,” he continued.


    "Daskal said that his client’s attention was diverted for a maximum of three seconds and when he swerved he realized Jennings was in front of him and tried to go around him but struck him on the driver’s side of his pickup truck, by the headlight.

    Police reports indicate that Bear was placing a cup of coffee in a holder just prior. Daskal said “a moment’s inattention” is the cause of the tragic accident, not gross negligence. “This could have happened to me, or to you,” he continued. "

  27. "Greg Jennings did not veer into traffic."

    Sorry, Jennifer, but you weren't there and simply aren't able to verify that. We need to obtain the CHP report to find out what actually happened.

  28. Well, Penny O'Gara had the full weight of Gallegos thrown at her - and alot of nasty things said - was that racist too?

    And hers was a REAL accident. Accidents do happen.

  29. Rose,

    You need to change the name of this blog from WATCHPAUL to GETPAUL

  30. Nah, I'll just start a "help Paul return to private practice" fund. And he'll be free. Then his record won't matter.

  31. Red you nailed it right on when you said: "The question you have to ask in charging a collision case is, does the physical evidence support the opinion evidence? And that is my problem with PVG's actions here. Either the evidence for gross negligence was never there, in which case it should not initially have been charged as a felony, or it was there, in which case it should not have been reduced to a misdemeanor simply because the IO changed his mind. And frankly it is fairly chickenshit to try to fob the reponsibility off on the chippie."

    Those of us "in the know" agree with you Red on this one.

    11:18 - you don't know what the fuck you are talking about.


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