◼ District attorney's office opposing Cruz waivers following hit-and-run, homicide case; Experts: Move could harm ability to get pleas - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard
District Attorney Paul Gallegos has asked his prosecutors to oppose all Cruz waivers after a man released on one in August became a person of interest in an Old Arcata Road hit-and-run and a Hoopa homicide in September.
Legal experts said the move could harm the office's ability to secure plea deals and limit the option for people in custody who have legitimate reasons to request one.
A Cruz waiver is part of a plea deal, usually requested by a defendant in custody or a defense attorney, that releases the defendant prior to sentencing. A prosecutor can oppose the waiver, but the decision to release a defendant is ultimately up to a judge.
Jason Anthony Warren, 28, was arrested on a warrant related to his failure to appear for sentencing hours after the Sept. 27 hit-and-run that killed Humboldt State University geography instructor Suzanne Seemann -- the mother of two young children and wife of Humboldt County official Hank Seemann. She died at the scene. Her running partners, Eureka residents Jessica Hunt, 41, and Terri Vroman-Little, 50, were severely injured.
An investigation into the hit-and-run led to the discovery of 47-year-old Dorothy Ulrich's body in her Hoopa home.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna released Warren from custody in late August on a Cruz waiver, part of a plea agreement that had him facing six years in prison with the stipulation that an assault change would be dropped if he showed up for his Sept. 7...
”It was the right decision for that time,” Gallegos told the Times-Standard last month. “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish to God we had opposed it, and I wish the judge hadn't released him.”