Friday, March 22, 2013

Warren charged with murder; deaths of HSU instructor, Hoopa woman, may bring death penalty

The man accused of killing a Hoopa woman and then later purposely running down three joggers on Old Arcata Road -- killing a Humboldt State University instructor and severely injuring two others -- has been charged with two counts of murder - Grant Scott-Goforth and Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard

The District Attorney's Office complaint filed against Jason Anthony Warren, 28, includes special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, lying in wait and torture. Warren faces an additional two counts of willful, deliberate premeditated attempted murder.

The special circumstance allegations elevate the maximum sentence Warren faces -- if convicted -- from life in prison to life without the possibility of parole and the death penalty.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos -- who will be prosecuting the case -- said he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

”That's a decision that will be made at a later time,” he said. “Certainly, we've spoken with family members and we will continue to have dialogue with them. Penalty is a matter that will be looked at more thoroughly as we progress.”

...Gallegos said the decision on whether to seek the death penalty requires more discussion and reflection.

”The taking of a human life is a profound act -- whether it's deliberative or compulsive,” he said. “I have been raised a Christian -- I take that belief.”

Gallegos said several factors need to be weighed: the desires of the families, the likelihood of a jury reaching a death verdict, and the facts associated with the defendant's life and “whether justice will only be met with another death.”

While his office has time to consider the penalty, Gallegos said he will be open about the decision when it's made.

”If it's something we're gonna seek, I prefer to let the defendant know and move forward at that time,” he said. “The decision should not and will not be gone into impetuously. It will be reasoned. In this business, we say the struggle is to remain compassionate without becoming sentimental. I guess that encapsulates it. We have to be realistic, compassionate to both parties.”

In the face of death: Special allegations change how a defendant should be represented - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard