...Warren has now been found guilty of murdering Hoopa woman Dorothy Ulrich, and doing so after lying in wait and torturing her. He was also found guilty of murdering HSU lecturer Suzanne Seemann and attempting to murder her friends and fellow educators Terri Vroman Little and Jessica Hunt. The three women were out for a run that morning when Warren, driving a car he’d stolen from Ulrich, passed them in the opposite direction, turned around and ran them down from behind at high speed.
The trial lasted a month, and the tragic morning itself is now more than three years past....
Seemann said his compulsion to be there every day stemmed partly from a kinship with Suzie’s parents and Hunt and Vroman Little and also Ulrich’s mother, Shirley Ortega. They were there to represent the deceased and to bear witness, he said. But he was also aware that the fate of the man who killed his wife was being placed in the hands of two attorneys — prosecutor Paul Sequeira and defense attorney Glenn Brown — and he wanted to hold them accountable.
“We needed to convey that there can’t be any mistakes,” Seemann said.
The Cruz Waiver
Or any more mistakes, he might well have said. From the beginning, this case has been tinged with anger and blame over a legal maneuver that allowed Warren to commit the crimes. Roughly a month before the murders, Warren was granted a Cruz waiver, part of a plea deal that allowed him out of jail and promised a lighter sentence. In exchange, Warren agreed to obey all laws and show up for his a Sept. 7, 2012, sentencing hearing. He did neither, of course, and thus the Cruz waiver proved to be a catastrophic error in judgment.
Judge Timothy Cissna, who heard the double-murder case, was the one who granted the Cruz waiver, but Hunt said she’s more angry at the deputy district attorney who was in the courtroom at the time and especially his then-boss, former DA Paul Gallegos.
“That’s who I blame,” Hunt said. “Part of their job is to be on top of who is getting processed in the courtroom, to be able to speak with authority about yes or no, that’s an OK person to get a Cruz waiver.”
In the aftermath of the crimes, Gallegos refused to admit that Warren should not have been set free. While saying he wished to God that his office had opposed the Cruz waiver or that the judge hadn’t granted it, Gallegos was quoted in the Times-Standard saying, “I don’t question the decision that was made. It was the right decision for that time.”
Seemann said that “decision” was likely ill-informed. “I actually arranged for a Public Records Act request to see what policies that office had for Cruz waivers, and what we discovered was that they had none,” he said. “So I think there was clearly a lack of clarity and direction” in the office....
"...there was clearly a lack of clarity and direction” in the office...."
And there it is. In a nutshell. From beginning to end, what defined Paul Gallegos' term in office as Humboldt County DA. It was evident in the beginning, and he never made any attempt to improve. Never. Law enforcement sounded the alarm early on. Prosecutors warned. This blog came about in part because so many had so much information they were afraid to speak themselves. The Grand Jury called it out. People who left the office described conditions in the office (and still do). And he never made any attempt to improve.
It was slipshod.
And people died. Not just the two in this case, either.
In the end, though, you can add the pot community to the list of those who are to blame. These two people were sacrificed on the altar of Humboldt weed. They kept him office, with their votes and their money. Knowing. And make no mistake, They Knew.
And, Ryan Burns article, linked above, is an excellent piece.
So sorry it had to be written.