“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
◼ BREAKING: SOMETHING'S UP IN BODHI TREE CASE - 8/1/14
◼ 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.