Saturday, August 09, 2014

Prosecutor: Murder Conviction Thanks to Bravery of Witnesses

The day after a Humboldt County jury convicted 28-year-old Bodhi Tree of double murder, the prosecutor on the case said the result would not have been possible if not for the courage of several citizens. - Thadeus Greenson/The Journal

“There were some civilian witnesses that put their individual safety on the line to testify, and without their testimony we wouldn’t have gotten this verdict,” said Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo. “It came down to regular people being very brave.”

The trial, which culminated with the jury convicting Tree Friday of second degree murder for the killings of 18-year-old Christina Schwartz and 27-year-old Allan “Sunshine” Marcet at an Arcata house party on May 18, 2013 and the attempted murder of a Eureka man two days earlier, turned into a trial by attrition. With the trial initially slated to span two months, attorneys walked 900 potential jurors through hardship questionnaires before finding 16 — 12 jurors and four alternates — willing and able to serve. But the trial dragged on, with new evidence coming to light that stretched it to almost three months. Three jurors had been excused by the time the case was submitted to the jury Tuesday afternoon...

Tree, who screamed out, “This is Bullshit,” and pledged to appeal the verdict as it was being read, is due to be sentenced Aug. 22, though Firpo said that date is likely to be pushed back into September to allow Schwartz’s family to be present.

While Firpo said she is pleased and relieved to put the Tree trial behind her, there appears to be little rest in her future as she’s prosecuting Gary Lee Bullock, who stands accused of the Jan. 1 slaying of St. Bernard’s Parish pastor Father Eric Freed. His trial is slated to begin in November.

Bodhi Tree threw temper tantrum in court. This is bullshit. Saying I did something I didn't. - John Chiv/Words Worth
For Rhett, Christina and Sunshine. Thank you Tree jury - John Chiv/Words Worth

BREAKING! Bodhi Tree Guilty 2nd degree murder Arcata and attempted murder in Eureka
Closing arguments: Bodhi Tree Murder Trial, It's with the jury now
Tree trial resumes W/Updates
Bodhi Tree End Game - 7/29/14
Bodhi Tree gamechangers? W/Updates - 7/23/14
Bodhi Tree Murder Trial: DAILY UPDATES, running record.

From everything I heard during the trial, Élan Firpo was on her own. She did not have the usual DA Investigator at her side, as it should have been. Kudos to her. Thanks to the witnesses, condolences and respect to the parents of the victims.

And kudos to John Chiv, who covered the trial throughout, to Paul Mann from the Mad River Union, Lorna Rodriguez and Will Houston from the Times-Standaard, Lashay from News Channel 3 for their attendance and coverage. It matters.


  1. Kudos to the EPD and the APD for sending their lead investigators every day to sit with Elan while relevant testimony was going on.

    The defense had two attorneys on this case, a defense investigator in court frequently as well as an intern/office assistant.

    Mad River Union is to be commended for sending a reporter every day. Paul Mann only missed the first day and verdict. Great reporter.

  2. Really don't understand yous twos fascination with crime reporting. You're only recording the inevitable sociological results of a racist society that routinely kills and imprisons darker skinned people who only want what European white people are taking for themselves alone, all the wealth produced by darker skinned peoples from all their former lands, like here, where HRC makes the profits for the Fisher Family of GAP fame, you know, burning sweatshops in Bangledesh and Cambodia police firing on garment workers protesters, those people, raking in the dough to be on the Super Rich dole supported by all the workers who are cheated out of the profit they create.

    We have an extremely dysfunctional socio-economic system that produces criminals who are statistically made up of the aggressive young men of darker skin wanting their piece of the American pie and seeing on TV and movies how to get it and where to buy the guns to do the job. No one's paying attention to the root causes because of the fascination of violent crime being just too interesting to some people to exploit their social careers upon, having nothing else to do with their lives but dig into criminal dirt that should be addressed at root cause level, not exploited for public interest like watching accident victims and fires burn down houses. Where people live. Or try to.

  3. Just glad Bodhi Tree won't be back out to shoot more people.

  4. It will be harder for Maggie Fleming to get rid of her now.

  5. There's no reason to think Fleming intends to fire anyone. She needs all our prosecutors, to shore up the team and add to it. There's a lot of speculation, which is unfair.

    1. Rose, by now if she has not reached out to Firpo and every single Deputy District Attorney, I think it is speculation is more than fair.

      No elected official is above it all, they are accountable to those who pay their salary. We The People.

  6. Even if Fleming does fire Firpo (I think that is unlikely, given the staffing and the apparent difficulty attracting applicants) so what? Isn't that exactly what Gallegos did to Worth Dikeman? And Dikeman is ten times the prosecutor that Firpo could ever hope to be. Don't forget, Gallegos promised in his initial campaign to give the Deputy DAs civil service protection; then he got into office, and decided that at-will was fine.

  7. 8:25 So you are equating Fleming to Paul? That's fair. don't expect her to make good decisions either.

  8. Paul hired Firpo. Paul "trained" Firpo. Of all his staff, of all the lawyers available in and out of his office, Paul hand-picked Firpo to be his successor.

    1. The election is over. Still Firpo haters cannot deal with facts. She won a difficult, high profile case.

      Has Fleming talked to her ? Has Fleming congratulated her?

      The focus should be on our next DA. If she cannot be gracious, why should we expect her to give people a fair trial?

    2. Fleming is performing, or should I say underperforming, as expected.

    3. Paul trained no one. The moron cannot even show up in Court. You have to know the law to train someone.

      This dissing of any one who isn't from the Fleming approved list is not fact, just opinion. Re-election is a whole new ballgame.

    4. Wait what? Maggie and Arnie both said that Elan was trained by Paul. Are you calling them liars???

  9. Interesting. So you think Paul provided training to the DDA's? I kept hearing he was out surfing. Nice to hear he was mentoring and cared about improving his staff.

  10. So the use of quotation marks just plumb evades you, eh 1009? How "interesting".

  11. Nope, but I'd say the implication was clear. Fleming's tired old "hand picked successor" line. Dishonestly. In fact, is that you Maggie? A year from now we'll be wishing we had Paul back.

  12. Surely the new DA will check with Rose and her comment trolls before making any important personnel decisions.

    1. Maybe you should check in with her before you spew your ignorance online reflecting on her.

      May not be a bad idea for her to check with Rose or the comment trolls because so far her PR team like you sucks big time.

  13. A. I would assume she would not bother Elan during an intense trial, but would wait until after it was over. That's a kindness, not a slight.

    B. No one expects her to hold a press conference to tout her actions and preparations. It should be done quietly, and with respect, and I expect that is how she will conduct herself.

    C. Speculation may be fun, but may be unfair. It is, however, natural, as is the fact that word trickles out about what is going on, is and isn't happening (yet), etc. That's life in the elected official's fishbowl.

    D. There is no reason for there to be any enmity between the two - both ran because they wanted to fix the problems in the office, and would make strong team members. Things said during the campaign, and any slights given or taken should be put aside. Lawyers are big kids, and well able to take slings and arrows and move on.

  14. Rose, the trial is over. No one is asking her to hold a press conference. They work in the same building.

    She has reached out to some Deputy District Attorneys. This is a small town. Actions are visible.

    Since June, there has been no action from Ms. Fleming to reach out to her opponents or their supporters. She wrote a letter thanking her supporters.

    You keep defending her. She has not shown any behavior that indicates she will represent the 38 per cent that did not chose her.

    The Firpo bashing comes from Fleming and Klein supporters. When they stop trolling this blog, moving on will be accomplished.

  15. Is 428 claiming that Paul did NOT hand pick Firpo? Because he did, and to claim other wise is dishonest. And btw, you don't have to like any of the candidates to dislike one of them. Or more. Election may be over, but that does not make what people said and did in an attempt to get elected go away. 4 years from now people will have 4 years to reflect on. Those 4 years will be what matters.


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