Friday, May 30, 2014

Bodhi Tree Updates: Rhett August

Note: Chiv often post early details of court proceedings, and then fleshes the story out later in the day, so it is recommended that you check back, to catch the full post, and the full flavor of the proceedings...

Rhett August, who was allegedly shot by Bodhi Tree, has a court case of his own *. EPD was responding to a domestic violence call and found meth..... ◼ (In February, he was released on a Cruz Waiver.) Now his own case is being delayed again, AND he is testifying about the events leading to the shooting...

* Rhett August petition to revoke probation withdrawn, remains on probation - John Chiv/Words Worth

Keeping vigil at Tree trial: 'She was one of my best friends' - Lorna Rodriguez/Times-Standard 5/31/14

Tenuous Witness Cred Erodes State’s Case Against Tree - Paul Mann/Mad River Union 5/30/14
The heroin addictions and resulting memory loss of three prime witnesses in the Bodhi Tree triple murder trial are chipping away at the state’s charges.

Rhett August, the one victim to survive last spring’s shooting binge in Eureka and Arcata, remains unable to identify who shot him the night of May 15, 2013, when he answered the doorbell and stepped outside his Eureka apartment....
"Russo seems very frustrated; Firpo defeating him at every turn"; general consensus among media covering case - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/30/14
In my experience, in Humboldt County, a pound of marijuana would not get prosecuted in this era - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/30/14
Detective Cress explaining one of the reasons why he did not confiscate the marijuana in Rhett August's apartment. He also said when he saw the marijuana in the one, clear plastic bag, he was doing the initial sweep to secure the apartment for safety.
Cress cross by Russo concludes in Bodhi Tree, Firpo still doing redirect - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/29/14
3 year supervised probation for Rhett August, alleged first victim in the Bodhi Tree case - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/28/14
Judge Feeney said that in addition to the Probation report, an addendum to the Probation report, he received character reference letters provided by August's family.

His tentative decision was to grant three years of supervised probation to August and to reinstate probation for four older cases.
Brief Bodhi Tree update from today - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/28/14
Cress still testifying: explains how Bodhi Tree connection with Eureka and Arcata happened - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/28/14 10:05

Testimony is about dates, how he got into contact with witnesses, how the case developed, how the connection was made between the Eureka attempted shooting of Rhett August and the Arcata murders of Sunshine and Christina; he is also describing the demeanor of witnesses.
EPD Detective Peter Cress starts off testimony today in Bodhi Tree trial - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/27/14
Today is the first time we learned why Melvin Matthews, another African-American male was a person of interest in this case. The address he lived at was 2122 Spring Street. It is after break and Ms. Firpo is still questioning Cress. At the end of today, Ms. Firpo was still questioning Cress.
Tree Trial Pivots On Motive, Police Work - Paul Mann/Mad River Union 5/23/14
In today's testimony, Cress explained why they eliminated Matthews as a suspect and focused on Bodhi Tree.
Former police detective testifies about motive in Eureka shooting - Lorna Rodriguez/Times-Standard
"As I spoke with the people who were telling me about the fight, my thought process was if somebody gets their butt kicked, they might want revenge," Peter Cress said while being questioned by Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo during the third week of Bodhi Tree's double murder trial.
Discrepancies: Covering the courts; an unexpected advantage. mistakes in the questioning of Rhett August - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/24/14

Eureka shooting victim testifies in Tree trial - Lorna Rodriguez/Times-Standard 5/23/14
Russo cross of Rhett August results in Russo smackdown - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/23/14
Rhett August was a very strong witness. Consistent testimony, good memory, not intimidated. He corrected Mr. Russo quite a few times with facts, names and more then held his own.
Someone rang the doorbell, I remember it clear as day - 5/23/14
Rhett August was playing Call of Duty with two friends when he heard his doorbell rang. "Someone rang the doorbell, I remember it clear as day." This is minutes before he was shot on May 15.

Because of the wounds, 75% of his liver, lobe of his lung, and reconstructed his diaphragm....
Bodhi Tree's attempted murder victim Rhett August's sentencing postponed for a week  - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/22/14

My friends laughed, women said he deserved it, Rhett August testifies today - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/22/14
In addition to the quote above which Rhett August referred to right after he described Bodhi Tree leaving after being beaten by three of his friends, he also confirmed Rives account of the party and gave new details. "I felt like he deserved it," said Rhett August regarding his friends beating Bodhi Tree. "He kept groping Taraya and he wouldn't stop." ...MORE at the link.
I wasn't lying, I remember better now, my mind is clear - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/22/14
Sean Butler Smith is being questioned by Mr. Russo. The above is a response when Mr. Russo brought up an inconsistency between preliminary hearing testimony and testimony now during jury trial....
"No one wanted to be around me... What happened with this trial and where I was going with my life, I'd either end up dead or in prison. I got a chance to be clean and I like it"." - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/22/14
...Now with the trial and watching the witnesses, most of whom, are just young adults, hearing their stories amidst the testimonies of the struggle, you cannot help but be affected. Besides the deaths, there are other tragedies in this case. The lives of the survivors, forever changed by a few moments.

This is not fiction. The stories at this trial daily are : of poverty; of being at the wrong place at the wrong time; of being stuck in a culture that provides easy access to drugs; of young people from good families, of youth wanting to change their lives....
Double murder defense: Felon with heroin history unreliable witness, Arcata double murder case continues - Lorna Rodriguez/Times-Standard
While being questioned by Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo, Butler-Smith, who is on felony probation for armed robbery, said that while there were many inconsistencies in the statements he previously gave, he has not used heroin since August 2013 and now has a better recollection of the events that happened last May.

"I'm more clear-headed, I don't act on impulse," he said. "I think about consequences."

Butler-Smith testified that heroin use would be a violation of his probation and he would be sent to jail or prison. He said he would probably be beat up or stabbed there because inmates don't like "snitches." Butler-Smith said he was already beat up and had two teeth knocked out after testifying at the preliminary hearing.

"I feel it's a considerable risk, but I feel I'm doing the right thing," he said. "Someone was killed."

Butler-Smith added he was not high the night of May 15 when he saw and heard gunfire outside the J Street apartment and saw Tree "snooping around" on J Street.
Boom Boom Boom Boom, I saw muzzle flash - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/21/14



  1. Mr. Chiv's view is not unanimous:

    excerpt--Prosecutor Elan Firpo, unable thus far to establish the identity of August’s assailant in court, is also at pains with two more of her key witnesses. Like August, Sean Butler-Smith and Charles Crow have also suffered heroin-induced memory losses. Also like August, Butler-Smith is on felony probation, in his case for the attempted armed robbery in the middle of last year of the former Noodle House in Arcata.

    Testifying days before August, Crow and Butler-Smith revised, recanted or contradicted prior statements they delivered in the preliminary hearing September 27th or in prior investigative interviews with detectives.

    In their vacillating responses, the state’s three witnesses appeared to bolster one of the principal claims of defense attorney Casey Russo since the trial opened May 14: their memories and their credibility are prima facie unreliable.

    1. Reading just your excerpt, I do not see where Paul Mann says anything to suggest his opinion is different.

      Mad River Union publishes once a week. John Chiv gives a daily report. Writing styles are different.

      I saw the same comment on John Chiv's blog. He also responded.

  2. Sucks to have 15 Heroine Addicts as your primary witnesses.

    1. Sucks to be so quick to judge people struggling with addiction.

    2. They are not struggling with addiction. They are struggling to stay high. Unfortunately for them they reap What they sow.

    3. You have a personal agenda.

      Some people turn their lives around and take responsibility. Others like you do not have a clue how pathetic you are.

      If you are so perfect, tell us your real name. Then we can sit and judge you.

    4. Guess the truth is inconvenient 9:25. I don't delude myself. I Know too many addicts who are just fine being addicts and don't want to change. Deal with it.

    5. You feel so confident but you avoided telling us your name. I know many addicts too, but unlike you I do not judge groups. I take each individual and their circumstance.

      What you need to deal with is that behind that screen , what you really are is a insecure loser. Never achieved anything that wasn't handed to you, can never get a woman unless you paid for her or manipulated her, never have any guts in real life, never made a difference in any one's life.

      You are a narcissistic, misogynist, who has never earned anything on your own.

      How does that make you feel?

    6. Just fine. And you have everything wrong but that was expected. (Insert smiley face!)

    7. Why would I take your word for it? You can say anything hiding behind a screen.

      I know you think you are very clever. You feed off the attention. Typical useless troll.

      But as long as I keep responding, you will come back for your fix. Just like the addict you are.

      You cannot let someone else have the ladt word. Unlike you, I can walk away and you can think you have won.

      You will respond to this because you are predictable.

  3. And HEROIN addicts are even worse than these HEROINES.

  4. Thanks for the link, 3:55. I've added it to the post.

    The more observation and opinions the better.

  5. the two of you know each other?

  6. Why are we supposed to take John Chiv's reporting seriously when he so biased in Firpo's favor?

    He is clearly letting his support for her taint his reporting. Clearly, the writer for Mad River Union has an entirely different viewpoint - untainted by admiration for any of the attorneys.

  7. Also, John Chiv's typos and poorly written English drives me insane.

  8. Chiv is open about his support - that's all you can ask.

    And typos? Try filing your report from a phone.

    But, you can go back to having zero coverage - or just turn the page, click the window closed.

  9. 7:35 you must be from the attorney club that John Chiv exposed.

    As for Paul Mann, he is the one who made that comment about Firpo kickin Russo's ass, because I was standing behind them in the courthouse and overhead the conversation.

    You call it coverage that is tainted. I for one, appreciate John showing who the players and dealers are in the legal world.

    Rose and John provide the public service by putting out information.

    Thank you Rose. This site has documented the decline of the District Attorney's office.

  10. To the poster who made a comment at 7:36 p.m. John Chiv does not have taxpayers footing his salary. He does not have wads of marijuana cash by taking advantage of a shaky law and calling it legal advice.

    I have known John for years and he has contributed more to this community selflessly than you ever will.

    Go be some grower's bitch while letting innocent people get victimized every day.

  11. I guess we know Rose is supporting Fleming now. Testimony was one stab wound. One small cut on hand which may have been from his employment as a chef, and one small cut on his chest the officer said may have been him when he cut his shirt off with a knife. Two minor cuts of undetermined origin and one stab wound. The only one that penetrated more than the most outer layer skin.

    Is this why Rose hasn't posted the rest of the Fleming CAST story? We know where her heart lies.


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