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◼ * Rhett August petition to revoke probation withdrawn, remains on probation - John Chiv/Words Worth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.◼ "Russo seems very frustrated; Firpo defeating him at every turn"; general consensus among media covering case - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/30/14
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....
◼ 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.◼ Brief Bodhi Tree update from today - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/28/14
His tentative decision was to grant three years of supervised probation to August and to reinstate probation for four older cases.
◼ 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.◼ Former police detective testifies about motive in Eureka shooting - Lorna Rodriguez/Times-Standard
◼ 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.
"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.◼ Bodhi Tree's attempted murder victim Rhett August's sentencing postponed for a week - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/22/14
Because of the wounds, 75% of his liver, lobe of his lung, and reconstructed his diaphragm....
◼ 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.◼ Double murder defense: Felon with heroin history unreliable witness, Arcata double murder case continues - Lorna Rodriguez/Times-Standard
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....
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.◼ Boom Boom Boom Boom, I saw muzzle flash - John Chiv/Words Worth 5/21/14
"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.