Saturday, August 28, 2010

Judge throws out motion for mistrial in Skilled Healthcare case; court also grants injunction against nursing home company

◼ TS Judge throws out motion for mistrial in Skilled Healthcare case; court also grants injunction against nursing home company
A Humboldt County judge threw out a motion for a mistrial in the class action lawsuit against Skilled Healthcare on Friday, signaling another wild day for the company's stock.
The motion, filed earlier this month by defense attorneys, alleged misconduct by one member of the jury that returned a $677 million verdict against the company on July 6. Defense attorneys called the amount, which remains the largest jury verdict in the United States this year, “annihilating,” and immediately took action to have it overturned.

In response to the motion, plaintiffs' attorneys filed a handful of declarations from other jury members dismissing the alleged bias and serving as a basis for Judge Bruce Watson to deny the motion. In his ruling, Watson stated that he found no evidence of juror misconduct and no grounds for a mistrial...

In addition to the denial of the motion, the court issued a permanent injunction that orders all Skilled Healthcare facilities to comply with the minimum staffing requirements mandated by California statute. Effective immediately, each of the 22 facilities implicated in the suit is to maintain 3.2 nursing hours per-patient, per-day....

Gallegos Forces Nursing Facilities to Follow the Law Gallegos' own propaganda blog...

Mistrial motion denied in Skilled Healthcare case
The Times-Standard
Posted: 08/27/2010 10:44:03 AM PDT
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson denied Skilled Healthcare’s motion for a mistrial in a ruling filed with the court today.

In his ruling, Watson states that he found no evidence of juror misconduct and no grounds for a mistrial in the class-action lawsuit that resulted in a $677 million award of damages against the nursing home chain for failing to maintain 3.2 nursing hours per patient, per day, as mandated by California statute.

In a separate ruling filed today, Watson also granted a permanent injunction sought by Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos in the case. Now granted, the injunction requires Skilled Healthcare to comply with California state and meet minimum staffing requirements.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The details emerge

Marijuana grow operation shooting leaves one dead, one wounded near Kneeland; 28-year-old man held on suspicion of murder, investigation remains ongoing
...The shooting is believed to be marijuana related and apparently occurred Wednesday night. It was not reported until about 9 a.m. Thursday, after the surviving shooting victim hiked more than two miles from the crime scene to the helicopter base. Initial scanner reports indicated that the man had been shot in the face and the back. He was airlifted by CalFire helicopter to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, and authorities said he is in stable condition.

Another man who may have witnessed the shooting was kept under the care of detectives in Kneeland for several hours before being transported away from the site.

Early Thursday afternoon, a heavily armed SWAT team, dressed in camouflage fatigues and full tactical gear, moved in on the scene of the shootings, which was more than two miles from the base, down steep, tree-covered hills. It reported finding a deceased adult male, apparently killed by a gunshot wound, on the property.

Back at the command center set up at the Kneeland Airport, Undersheriff Mike Downey, after accompanying the SWAT team as it surveyed and searched the crime scene, said the uninjured man is cooperating with authorities, and had been in touch with investigators throughout the day.

”We're making sure he has a place to stay tonight and we're taking care of him,” Downey said.
The undersheriff said the scene of the shooting contained a large outdoor marijuana grow, consisting of four garden sites that he estimated had a combined 1,500 to 2,000 plants.

”I've worked marijuana in this area for 25 years, and I would put that (operation) on a very large scale,” Downey said.

He went on to say that some physicians' medical marijuana recommendations were posted at the gardens and that it would be “speculative” this early in the investigation to say whether the grow was illegal.

The Sheriff's Office is withholding the identities of all the victims at this point. Downey said it appears that all involved in the Wednesday night altercation have been accounted for based on witness statements.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos was at the Kneeland air station Thursday afternoon, and toured the crime scene by helicopter. Gallegos said officers had the “primary suspect” in custody, but said investigators were still tracking down leads in an attempt to determine if anyone else may have been involved with the shootings.


The investigation into the Kneeland shooting is continuing and evidence continues to be collected and evaluated. As released yesterday, the suspect, Mykal Wilde, 28 of Eureka, was arrested yesterday during a traffic stop a short distance from the Kneeland Airport. Detectives have learned that the three victims had been hired by the Wilde to assist in marijuana cultivation. Wednesday evening, a dispute developed between Wilde and the three men. The preliminary investigation revealed that Wilde was in possession of a firearm and opened fire, killing one and wounding another; the third man was uninjured. The two surviving men fled and were separated. Early reports indicate that Wilde continued to search for the two survivors throughout the night. Yesterday morning, the injured victim contacted CalFire personnel at the Kneeland Helitack Base. At about the same time, the uninjured survivor separately contacted a jogger. Law enforcement personnel responded to the area and conducted a systematic search. At about 2:00 yesterday afternoon, they located the deceased victim near the grow site.

Deputies found and eradicated 1,554 growing marijuana plants at the site of the shooting. There were several Proposition 215 recommendations posted and the legality of the growing operation remains under investigation. Sheriff’s Deputies and Detectives obtained and served three search warrants: the suspect’s vehicle, his residence, and a trailer located on the property of the grow site. At Wilde’s residence deputies found more the 20 pounds of processed marijuana, a digital scale, packaging materials, and ammunition.

The victims’ identities are being withheld. At this point in the investigation there is no evidence that any of the three victims were armed. The investigation is continuing. Law enforcement personnel remained at the site throughout last night and today.

Gary Philp

Thursday, August 26, 2010

...four gunshot victims... UPDATES on Blogthing

Undersheriff Mike Downey and District Attorney Paul Gallegos (center) are on scene in Kneeland, near where a multiple shootings may have occurred. An ambulance has left the scene, where at least one man was shot, another escaped unharmed and a third is missing, but actively being searched for at this time.

One suspect in custody, search continues for others (This breaking news is being updated...keep checking the link)
Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers are responding to a report of a gunshot victim in an area near the Kneeland CalFire helitack base.
Reporters on the scene received reports of up to four gunshot victims, but Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brenda Godsey said those are unconfirmed, and officers are still trying to assess the situation. At this point, Godsey said there is only one confirmed victim, who she said was transported out of the area for treatment....

suspect as Mikal Xylon Wilde, 28, and described him as a white male standing 6 feet 2 inches and weighing 225 pounds with a muscular build. Dispatchers said Wilde is believed to be driving a dark green or black Ford F250 pickup truck with a lift unit and a black brush guard. They said the vehicle's license plate number is 7B57780.

They said Wilde is believed to be armed with a .45 caliber handgun, and should be considered armed and dangerous.

At the Journal's ◼ BLOGTHING:

At least one man was severely injured in shootout in Kneeland last night, apparently in a marijuana-related dispute...

UPDATE, 11:30 a.m.: Scanner traffic says that the suspect has been taken into custody on Greenwood Heights Road. Officers on the scene paged animal control to take custody of two pit bulls.

UPDATE, 11:53 a.m.: The CalFire Twitter feed reports what we’ve been hearing; that three people were found dead in Kneeland this morning. The Sheriff’s Office will not yet confirm this.
Twiiter Feed shows up when you google Wilde's name
Cal Fire News: Eureka scanner: 11:31 154.74 One suspect in custody, code 4, 2 pit bulls awaiting animal control #PotGrow
35 minutes ago replyretweet
Cal Fire News: Eureka:1124hrs SO has suspect vehicle stopping dwn twn 1/4 m from Greenwood and Mountainview -3 DOA, 1 injured 154.74 SO Main still CODE 33
38 minutes ago
Cal Fire News: Eureka scanner: Wilde is believed to be armed with a .45 caliber handgun, and should be considered armed and dangerous. #PotGrow #BOL
43 minutes ago
Cal Fire News: Eureka scanner: BOL dark green or black Ford F250 pickup truck w/ lift unit / black brush guard. License plate number is 7B57780. #PotGrow
44 minutes ago
Cal Fire News: Eureka scanner: Suspect- Mikal Xylon Wilde, 28, WM,6 ' 2, 225 Lbs w/ muscular build. #SWAT #PotGrow
about an hour ago
Cal Fire News: Eureka: Humboldt SO SWAT Responding, 10-20 in a remote area not accessible to patrol vehicles, nothing has been confirmed yet. #PotGrow
about an hour ago
Cal Fire News: Eureka: 3 reported deceased GSW victims have not been located, the RP was shot in face, helicoptered to a hospital #PotGrow
about an hour ago
Cal Fire News: #BreakingNews - Eureka area - LEO/EMS - 3 unconfirmed DOA gunshot vics at a marijuana grow, 4th civ victim at Kneeland Helitack base. 154.74


Sheriff's Press Release

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Kneeland area this morning after receiving a report that a shooting had occurred in a marijuana garden there. At about 9:15 a.m. deputies responded and located one person who had been shot. The victim was conscious at the time and was air-lifted to an out-of-the-area hospital for treatment. Deputies were able to obtain possible suspect information and began searching for Mykal Wilde, 28 of Eureka. At about 11:30 a.m. law enforcement officers spotted Wilde driving near the Kneeland Airport and he was taken into custody without incident.

At the time of this writing (approx. 1:00 p.m.), deputies are searching the area to determine if there are additional victims. Initial information relayed to the Sheriff’s Office indicated that there may be an additional victim at the marijuana grow site. This report has NOT been verified.

Additional information will be released when it becomes available and verified.
link Not sure of the time of that release.


Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies continue to investigate the shooting that was reported to official this morning. At about 2:00 p.m. deputies found the body of a deceased adult male near a marijuana grow site. The preliminary cause of death appears to be a gunshot wound. Deputies do not expect to find additional victims but are continuing to search the area.

Investigators have learned that the shooting likely occurred last evening and involved four individuals: the suspect and three victims. Of the victims, one was airlifted to an out-of-the-area hospital for treatment for gunshot injuries. The second victim is deceased. The third victim was uninjured during the incident. The identity of all three victims is being withheld. The suspect, Mykal Wilde, 28 of Eureka, was arrested this morning and has been booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for one count of murder and one count of attempted murder.

The motive for the shooting is still under investigation although Sheriff’s Detectives believe there was a dispute over illegal activity.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

Final Tally: One Arrested, One Injured, One Safe and One Dead - at the Blogthing

Not to fear - Gallegos the great is at the scene.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sheriff deputies released to full duty


After a thorough review of the investigation, Sheriff Gary Philp determined the officers involved in the shooting of Robert Garth did not violate any Sheriff’s Office policy or procedure, and has returned the officers to full duty.

Both officers have been released to regular duty effective 08-13-2010. The decision to release the officers to full duty status was made after a thorough evaluation of the physical evidence, officer statements and several witness statements, which were taken by investigators.

The officers involved in the shooting were veteran Deputy Dave Lundie, 7 years, and Deputy Sheriff John Fomasi.

Upon completion of the case including the autopsy and toxicology, the case will be forwarded to the District Attorneys Office for their review.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hearing pushed back for Fortuna man

Hearing pushed back for Fortuna man
The preliminary hearing for a Fortuna man accused of attempted murder has been pushed back to the end of the month.

Michael Alan Coen, 28, was arrested July 2 in a multi-agency manhunt less than 24 hours after he allegedly shot Michael Cooper on the 3400 block of Hillras Way in Fortuna. Coen has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges, including attempted murder, assault with a firearm, illegal possession of a firearm by a felon and resisting arrest.

On Tuesday, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen agreed to postpone a preliminary hearing -- a kind of mini-trial held to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a defendant for a jury trial -- until Aug. 31, based on an agreement between attorneys in the case....

Coen pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm last November and, as a result, spent 47 days in jail and was sentenced to three years probation, according to Humboldt County court records. Coen was also arrested in February for his alleged involvement in an Arcata carjacking, but charges have never been filed stemming from that incident....

Hearing delayed, waiting on coroner's report

Hearing delayed in Blue Lake child murder case

Monday, August 09, 2010

Skilled Healthcare suit to be continued

Largest Jury Verdict Of 2010, Against Skilled Healthcare, May Get Tossed Due To Jury Tampering

...To put it bluntly, it appears that one of the jurors in the case lied to the court in order to get onto the jury. That's what I was told by an attorney representing Skilled Healthcare who reached out to me on Friday... (says the author at the link)

As you might guess, before a case like this takes place, all of the perspective jurors are asked questions (sometimes a LOT of questions) in order to make absolutely sure they don’t have any conflicts of interest that would keep them from being impartial. It turns out that one of the jurors not only had familiarity with one of the nursing home facilities in question, but specifically had a very negative opinion of it.

It’s more complicated than you or I want to get into (you can read all of the details in filed court documents here), but this one juror apparently used to work in the county coroner’s office and in that capacity had dealings with a friend of hers who had issues with a Skilled nursing home.

News of this conflict would never have come to light, except that this juror bragged about it after the trial was over, at a reception hosted by the District Attorney’s office. It was so bad that it was actual two other jurors who heard it and brought it to the attention of Skilled’s attorneys. Their statements were taken and submitted to the court last Friday in a motion that also included testimony from the former Coroner (now a local city councilmember) who made it clear that he was well aware of the negative bias of this juror towards Skilled Healthcare.

Now the plaintiff’s attorneys will get a chance to respond to these allegations, but I don’t see how they are going to refute the facts that have come to light. It seems to me very likely that the judge in this case is going to have no choice but to declare a mistrial and strike down this verdict. Never mind the potential influence that this biased and untruthful juror would have had on the rest of the jury (every see 12 Angry Men?), in this kind of case it actually takes the affirmative votes of nine jurors to find wrongdoing – which is precisely the number who did so in this case. In other words, if you disqualified the vote of just this one juror, it would mean the verdict would not have been reached.

I presume that the case will be re-tried, of course. If Skilled Healthcare was not providing required minimum levels of care for those in their nursing homes, they should be held accountable (they maintain that they did provide adequate care). But if our justice system is going to work property, should another trial conclude wrong-doing on the party of this nursing home owner and operator, the jury must assign a financial verdict that is actually rational.

And as for the juror appears to have lied her way onto this jury – it seems to me that a new criminal investigation should be opened into her conduct. No one is above the law.

Will Massive $671 Million Verdict Against Skilled Healthcare Lead To The End Of Privately Owned Nursing Homes?

Skilled Healthcare suit to be continued

A hearing on the latest motion in the class-action lawsuit involving Skilled Healthcare is being pushed back to Friday, the court ruled this morning.

Attorneys agreed to address the issue of juror misconduct, along with a possible injunction sought by Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos, on Friday. There is no word yet if parties in the case have reached a settlement.

Chg'd with two separate counts of felony battery on a pair of correctional officers

Corey Tyler Shannon-Johnson due back in court.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Attacker shot and killed by deputies

◼ TS Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies shoot man on State Route 299
An officer-involved shooting left an unidentified man dead on State Route 299 west of Blue Lake Saturday morning.

The man was shot multiple times after allegedly approaching officers aggressively with the metal handle of a garden rake, and refusing to comply with officers' orders, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. He died at the scene.

The Humboldt County Coroner's Office said the identity of the deceased is being held pending a positive identification. However, people at the scene who said they are relatives of the deceased identified him as Robert Garth, 31, of Blue Lake.

According to a Humboldt County Sheriff's Office press release, deputies responded to a report of an assault in progress around 7:30 a.m. Saturday near the Blue Lake Boulevard on-ramp to 299, just west of the city. The release states that a 35-year-old Arcata man, who was hitchhiking, called 9-1-1 to report that he was being assaulted with a metal-clawed garden rake.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steve Knight said the assault remained in progress when a pair of deputies -- including one in training -- arrived on scene, but Knight said the assault had moved up onto the westbound lanes of the highway at that point. According to the release, the handle of the rake broke off during the assault, and officers arrived to find the assault victim and the suspect struggling over the rake handle.

When deputies pulled up in their patrol car, Knight said, the victim let go of the rake and ran away from the suspect. According to the press release, the suspect then turned his attention to the officers, and allegedly began advancing on them with the rake handle, which looked like a three-foot metal pipe.

The suspect, who was in close proximity to the officers, then allegedly raised the pole into striking position and came at the officers, causing them to draw their weapons, according to the release.

Knight said deputies repeatedly instructed the suspect to drop his weapon. However, the suspect kept advancing, Knight said, and deputies fired on him as they retreated backward.

Despite having been shot by the deputies, Knight said, the suspect kept moving toward them.

”He continued advancing, and the officers fired again,” Knight said.

◼ TS Deputies shoot, kill suspect near Blue Lake

Man wielding garden tool shot by deputies - Heraldo

Friday, August 06, 2010

open question

Trinidad planning commissioner resigns; no word yet on investigation into Tsurai Village tree-cutting

...The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department submitted a final report of the incident to the District Attorney's Office, which has not said if it will pursue charges in the matter....

Brings to mind Gallegos' quote on his Sean Marsh persecution. "It's not the crime of the century..." But Gallegos threw the full weight of the law at Sean Marsh for letting his kid walk a couple of steps in front of him in Ferndale. Hardly an egregious act. So what will he do?

Rock and a hard place here. The "tough on crime" meme Gallegos' campaign has been trying to portray implies swift and decisive action "without fear or favor."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Latest Wave of Campaign Finance Numbers

at the Reporta
The record holders for now:
Most $$$ Raised: Virginia Bass ($114,667)
Most $$$ Spent: Paul Gallegos ($109,685)
Most Loans Taken: Paul Gallegos ($33,000)
Highest Debt: Paul Gallegos ($54,825)
Largest Single Contribution Received: Bonnie Neely ($10,000)

(correction from The Reporta: Actually, after reviewing the info, Pat Cleary takes the prize for highest single contribution - Blue Lake Rancheria for $20,000. )

Gallegos is going big in the race, spending well beyond his current means. It’s a gamble that may pay off in the General Election, but it could also be a hefty debt if that battle heats up, which it probably will. In the current cycle, he raked in $11,127 in contributions, most notably $1,500 from Humboldt Hydroponics, $500 from {}Jeffrey Schwartz, and $300 from the Humboldt Patient Resource Center, and spent $11,225. He took out another $3,000 loan and spent cash mostly on salaries, polling data, and credit card bills.

Allison Jackson raised $2,703 and spent $28,166. She took out her first loan in the race to the tune of $10,500. She got a $1,000 from Paradise City Publications, in Arcata, and paid off $12,656 in expense debt.

Election campaign money continues to trickle in

Added: No word on Gallegos heavily amended reports?

Crime? I'm down with that.

Paul Gallegos' new campaign slogan.

Another murder trial

Two people arrested in connection to Eureka death; both charged with murder
Ryan Anthony Salas, 24, and Katrina Lanai Inong, 27, were both charged with murder in the June killing of Jack Dale Sovereign.

Sovereign was murdered in front of a residence on Santa Clara Street during the early morning hours of June 1, 2010. Deputies responded to the Eureka residence in the early morning and found Sovereign dead at the scene. He was 38 years old.

Sheriff's Detectives found a shotgun that is believed to be the murder weapon as well as other evidence in a wooded area near Myrtle Avenue and Mitchell Road. The Sheriff's Office won't say how Sovereign died.

The Sheriff's office also obtained an arrest warrant for a third man also believed to be involved. Nathan Nix, 40, is currently in custody for violating his parole, and will be transported back to the Humboldt County jail for the murder charge.

A preliminary hearing date of Aug. 11 has been set for Salas and Inong.

Myrtletown homicide victim ID'd; officials seeking four for questioning about Santa Clara Street killing 6/03/2010
The victim of a killing outside Eureka Tuesday had a long criminal record, including the attempted murder of a 62-year-old man during a burglary in 1991.

In other news

Humboldt County deputies arrest man on several drug charges, gun charge Ryan Floyd, 28, of Redway
Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies arrest two on meth charges Johnnie Mahan Jr., 49, and Hannah Mouser, 20

Humboldt County Juvenile Hall detainee allegedly assaults two correctional officers

Humboldt County Juvenile Hall detainee allegedly assaults two correctional officers

Two correctional officers at Humboldt County Juvenile Hall were sent to the hospital after they were allegedly assaulted by a detainee on Sunday, with one still being treated for severe head injuries.

Corey Tyler Shannon-Johnson, 18, of McKinleyville was being held at the facility for undisclosed reasons, as it involves his juvenile record. At about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, the Eureka Police Department responded to juvenile hall to assist staff with a subject reported to be fighting with hall staff, according to the EPD.

The two corrections officers had reportedly opened Shannon-Johnson's cell because of “safety concerns,” according to the press release. Once the cell was open, Shannon-Johnson allegedly attacked them, gouging the eyes of one correctional officer and then knocking the other to the ground and kicking and stomping him in the face numerous times.

Both officers were transported to the hospital. One was treated and released for injuries to his eyes, and the second was flown to Santa Rosa where he is in an intensive care unit at an undisclosed hospital for treatment of severe head injuries.

Chief Probation Officer Bill Damiano said all the officers on duty during that shift have been given some time off “to gather themselves” before coming back after such an incident.

... According to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office, they have not received the incident report yet, but Shannon-Johnson will likely be arraigned on Wednesday.

Juvenile arraigned in Humboldt County court, charged with battery on correctional officers 8/05/10
Shannon-Johnson, 18, pleaded not guilty to two separate counts of felony battery on a pair of correctional officers. ...

The officers had reportedly opened Shannon-Johnson's cell because of “safety concerns,” according to a press release from the Eureka Police Department. Once the cell was open, Shannon-Johnson allegedly attacked them, gouging the eyes of one and then knocking the other to the ground and kicking and stomping him in the face numerous times....

Sunday, August 01, 2010

So sad

Autopsy complete, but investigation continues in 4-year-old child's death
The autopsy on Dylan Blount-Chambers was completed last week, but the Humboldt County Coroner said that additional work needs to be done before the body is released and the family can hold a funeral for Dylan.

”Because of the extent of the injuries we've had to do a multitude of X-rays and CAT scans,” said Coroner Dave Parris. “We want to be able to get a perfect picture of what happened.”
Parris said that the body could be released as soon as today, when the family had planned to hold a funeral for the 4-year-old boy. In the meantime, officials said that the investigation into the murder is ongoing.