Sheriff’s Office Names ‘Person of Interest’ in Hoopa/Bayside Cases - Warren had already been in custody on assault with a deadly weapon charges but was released on a “Cruz waiver” prior to his Sept. 7 sentencing date. He failed to show, which is why he was out and about on Sept. 27, the day the three joggers were hit.
◼ Accused Molester Dossey Pleads To Lesser Count
Accused child molester Timothy Ryan Dossey pled guilty to a lesser charge of child endangerment and was released from jail May 5. Formal sentencing takes place June 14.
...Dossey was arraigned March 9 on three felony charges: child molestation, communication with a minor with intent to commit a molestation and arranging to meet a minor for the purpose of engaging in a lewd act.
But on May 5, the first count was reduced to child endangerment and the other two counts were dismissed....
◼ Derek Bowman
..."Nine felonies and a handful of misdemeanor charges... ...dismissed or suspended sentence on all of them in a single day."...
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos declined again Thursday to answer specific questions raised by The Eureka Reporter regarding a possible conflict of interest in the DA’s Office, while statements by two Gallegos subordinates answered some questions and raised others.
The controversy centers around a $10,000 contribution made to Gallegos’ re-election campaign by the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, chaired by Leonard Bowman.
On July 19, less than six weeks after the election, Leonard’s son, Derek Bowman, received a plea deal from the DA’s Office involving nine felony and two misdemeanor charges, in which seven of the charges were dropped and sentences on the remaining charges were suspended.
Derek received jail time only for a 12th charge, a violation of the terms of his probation. Judge Timothy Cissna sentenced him to 180 days, less time served, in the Humboldt County jail. According to jail personnel, he was released Sept. 11 to serve the rest of his time in the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program....
Court documents state that among charges against Derek dismissed as part of the plea agreement were felony threat of death or great bodily injury to a 17-year-old girl, felony domestic battery against a different 17-year-old girl and misdemeanor battery against Bowman’s mother-in-law, Cheree Bowie.
The first of those charges, California Penal Code 422, is a “strike” felony under the California Three Strikes Law. Court files show that in the third charge, Derek was accused of hitting Bowie in the face three times as she was held down by her daughter and a second female.
Note: Gallegos has stated that he received another significant donation from Bear River for this election, as well. (June 8, 2010) watch for the reporting period.
◼ Alan Bear
MANSLAUGHTER - Bear received one year in county jail with three years probation upon his release.
After Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos reduced the vehicle manslaughter charge from a felony to a misdemeanor... Bear pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and making an unsafe lane movement in connection with the collision that killed (bicyclist) Jennings on Aug. 25, 2008.... Gallegos said the charge was reduced because the reporting officer revised his statement on the collision and it did not appear that Bear acted with gross negligence.
”Further investigation proved that it was not gross negligence or at least that we couldn't prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt,” Gallegos said at the preliminary hearing.
◼ Benjamen Edward Jentry-Rakestraw
DRUG CHARGES - Benjamen Edward Jentry-Rakestraw, 20, of Fortuna, was accused of attempting to bring heroin, marijuana and tobacco into the jail on July 3. He was also accused of allegedly providing prisoner Ruben Anthony Peredia with the drugs, according to court documents.
Peredia is currently in jail on charges connected to the murder of Ezra Sanders. Neither Peredia nor Taryn Nicole Mabe, who allegedly brought the drugs to Jentry-Rakestraw, have been officially charged by the District Attorney's Office for the incident....
Two charges -- possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit a crime -- dropped after he entered the guilty plea.... faced up to four years in prison when he's sentenced... could also get probation, which is what the Probation Department recommended to the court....
His case was delayed due to misplaced copies of evidence materials intended for his defense attorney....
Peredia was in jail on charges connected to the murder of Ezra Sanders. Neither Peredia nor Taryn Nicole Mabe, who allegedly brought the drugs to Jentry-Rakestraw, have been officially charged by the District Attorney's Office for the incident.
The DA's office was supposed to provide a copy of Jentry-Rakestraw's statement to police for his defense attorney, Michael Robinson. Robinson told the court Wednesday that he had requested the information from the DA's office multiple times with no success....
◼ Blake Gregory Moreland
ATTEMPTED MURDER - On the day he was to start trial proceedings, an Arcata man pleaded no contest to a plea agreement that dropped an attempted murder charge.
Based on (a) negotiated plea agreement, a judge will not be able to sentence Blake Gregory Moreland, 21, to more than seven years in state prison, said Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Arnie Klein — the minimum Moreland could potentially face, Klein said, is probation.... Moreland pleaded no contest Monday morning to a plea agreement of assault with a deadly weapon — a .380-caliber handgun — and admitted a special allegation that he personally used a handgun in the commission of a crime, Klein said... A special allegation increases the time a defendant faces at sentencing.
...Past reports indicate Moreland was charged with attempted murder, assault with a firearm, discharging a firearm out of a vehicle and negligent discharge of a firearm... According to previous reports, Moreland and a male victim were driving in separate vehicles in the Manila area when, at one point, Moreland shot at the victim — who had a woman, a 17-year-old girl and a 2-year-old child as passengers in his vehicle.
◼ Bradley Harold Mallett
ATTEMPTED MURDER - Bradley Harold Mallett was sentenced on a plea agreement stemming from a 2006 assault that left a then-transient man severely injured.
Mallett, 25, of Manila, was sentenced Wednesday to a total of six years in state prison — a stipulated term per the plea agreement... assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury with a special allegation that he did produce great bodily injury, said Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Arnie Klein.
Mallett’s case stems a Feb. 19, 2006, incident after which Kirk M. Celis, then 48, was found severely beaten behind the Valley West shopping center in Arcata, suffering significant head trauma and injuries to his upper torso that resulted in a punctured lung...
...As part of Mallett’s plea agreement, McCrone said, the DA’s Office dismissed the attempted murder and second-degree robbery counts Mallett was initially charged with.
Also dismissed as part of the plea agreement was another special allegation pertaining to the assault charge — that Mallett inflicted great bodily injury to Celis that caused Celis to become comatose due to brain injury, or to suffer paralysis.
◼ Clare Holmes and John Devoe
DRUG CHARGES - John Devoe, 42, and Clare Holmes, 37, had their six properties searched by Humboldt County Drug Task Force agents on Aug. 20, 2007, after an investigation based on an anonymous tip began. More than 200 marijuana plants, $20,000 in cash and 20 pounds of processed marijuana were reportedly seized by Humboldt County Drug Task Force agents between the residences. Devoe and Holmes agreed to forfeit more than $66,000, which included monies from bank and stock accounts and seized cash, as part of the plea agreement.
◼ Clinton Lee Harris III
RAPE - Concerns about a plea deal that resulted in a 19-day sentence for a man originally charged with rape will not be discussed publicly, said Arcata Police Chief Randy Mendosa.
“I do have some concerns about the process, which I’m going to be communicating to (Humboldt County District Attorney Paul) Gallegos, but it’s not appropriate to make those communications through the media,” Mendosa said Wednesday.
The chief’s concerns stemmed from the case of Clinton Lee Harris III, who was arrested by the Arcata Police Department April 18 and mistakenly released from the Humboldt County jail Aug. 3, while awaiting trial on charges of rape and burglary.
Harris was rearrested several days later but was let out again, this time intentionally, on Aug. 20 after the two felony charges were reduced to a single misdemeanor... According to court documents, three different prosecutors handled the case – Jeffrey Schwartz, Kelly Neel and Ben McLaughlin.
◼ June 2008 Collin Gregory Roczey and Kevin Scott Walker
KIDNAPPING, SODOMY, ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, SEXUAL ASSAULT - - Two transient men arrested in early May on suspicion of sexually assaulting and beating up a man near Trinidad Beach pleaded guilty... to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, which carries a two, three or four-year sentence. They were originally charged with kidnapping to commit a crime, assault with a deadly weapon and sodomy in concert with another person.
7/6/2010, already out, ◼ Man (Kevin Scott Walker) arrested for rape in Arcata
The (alleged) Whitethorn Rape case
◼ Deshawn Lee Moore
◼ Levi Cole Garza
◼ Nate Robin Garza
◼ Gregory Donald Scheider
KIDNAPPING, RAPE, SODOMY AND FALSE IMPRISONEMENT - The four men accused of kidnapping and raping a woman in Whitethorn in March have each had charges against them dropped as part of a deal with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.
Charges were DROPPED after a convoluted and inexplicable process:
...three of the men were sentenced Wednesday to three years of formal, supervised probation.... Four men charged in the alleged kidnapping, rape, sodomy and false imprisonment of a woman in Whitethorn have agreed to a conditional plea bargain offered by the Humboldt County District Attorney's office. The men — 21-year-old brothers Levi Cole Garza and Nate Robin Garza, 31-year-old Gregory Donald Scheider and 32-year-old Deshawn Lee Moore — have faced the charges since mid-March, following an incident that allegedly took place over three days, March 7, 8 and 9.
According to reports, the woman testified during a prolonged preliminary hearing that during the ordeal she was tied to a tree overnight, threatened she would be shot with a rifle, taken indoors and tied down and raped by three of the men — all allegedly in retribution for her role involving a $6,000 drug-related debt.
The trial had been set for this month. But Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said on Tuesday that all four of the accused men agreed to plead guilty to several charges. All four plead guilty to "rape in concert" — less delicately known as gang rape — and to false imprisonment. Levi Garza additionally plead guilty to kidnapping and marijuana trafficking. All four men "insist the sexual part didn't happen," said Schwartz. And so, as part of the plea bargain, they will take lie detector tests.
"What makes this case unusual is that we're going to rely on the lie detector," he said. Lie detectors are not considered reliable in the courtrroom, but they are "a tool we use" in other arenas, such as plea bargaining, said Schwartz. He said he has faith in lie detector tests, and that the county's polygrapher, Jim Dawson, is "one of the best in the state."
If the case had gone to trial, Levi Garza was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison because of the "kidnap for sexual assault" charge. "Realistically, I didn't see that" happening, Schwartz said. "We had some proof problems — was it a kidnapping, or was it not a kidnapping?" The evidence for false imprisonment — tying her up — is more clear, he said. It carries a lesser sentence. And, if a trial jury had found the men guilty of rape in concert, the maximum sentence they would have faced is nine years. Under the plea bargain, depending on the lie detector test results, here's what could happen:
If the lie detector says the men are telling the truth — that they didn't rape the woman — then the rape-in-concert guilty plea will be dropped. Three of the men would then face five years in state prison (85 percent of which they would have to serve), a strike under the three strikes law, and life-time sex-offender registration for the false imprisonment guilty plea. Levi Garza would get the strike, life-time sex offender registration, and up to eight years in state prison.
Schwartz said the difference in sentencing, between a trial and plea bargain, in this case likely would not have been very significant because he didn't know if they'd be able to prove the kidnapping charge. But, he said, "the bottom line is, this whole arrangement is driven by the wishes of the victim. She states that she was tied up and raped by three men in a living room. She would have to go over that humiliating experience in telling that to the jury. She doesn't want to do that." She has already had to tell her story numerous times, he added, "and her emotional level is high."
◼ Duane Bowie Jr.
FELONY ASSAULT - The plea agreement — being a felon in possession of ammunition — was a stipulated agreement, meaning a prison term was already agreed upon by the defense and prosecution.
In return for Bowie pleading guilty to the offer, it was stated in court that one of the two charges and all the special allegations — which could have increased potential prison time — were dropped. They included felony assault with a deadly weapon (a metal bed rail) by means likely to cause great bodily injury and allegations of prior prison enhancements.
◼ Isaias Felix-Romero
SEXUAL ABUSE (CHILD) - ...pleaded no contest to the sexual abuse of his 8 yr. old daughter... report says he pled "no contest to allegations..." but does not say what the CHARGES (Penal Code Sections), and resultant minimum and maximum penalties were. Eight years prior Felix-Romero was convicted of unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old minor, the mother of Jane Doe. Felix-Romero later married Jane Doe's mother.
Reminiscent of the Martinez-Hernandez case except this time, it looks like the guy really is going to get deported.
But in 6 years he'll get to rape another 8-13 year old (actually younger, probably, and next time, he may not want to leave any witnesses behind.)
◼ James Phillip Geth
ROBBERY, BURGLARY, ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON FALSE IMPRISONMENT, PROBATION VIOLATION RESISTING AND EVADING ARREST, RECKLESS DRIVING - pleaded guilty last Friday to two counts of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a McKinleyville-to-Arcata crime spree...
Geth was on felony probation for drug offenses at the time of the robbery spree. Arcata Police recommended numerous felony charges against him for robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, probation violation, resisting and evading arrest with reckless driving.
However, in a subsequent plea arrangement, newly hired Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison recommended only one robbery and one evading count against Geth.
Arcata Police were aghast at the downsizing of the Geth case. Noting Geth’s disregard for public safety, his having terrorized citizens (security video shows him slashing at the clerk and a patron with the knife at the Alliance Road store) and placing an officer in a possible shooting situation, APD communicated its surprise and displeasure at the weakened charges to Dollison and DA Paul Gallegos.
At a preliminary hearing... Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen reproved Dollison for failing to subpoena the CHP officer involved and for not having the McKinleyville mini-mart clerk present.
Dollison, who has served mostly as a defense attorney, conferred with Gallegos and re-filed the evading and robbery charges. Geth ultimately pleaded guilty to one of the previously dropped robbery charges.
In ensuing months, the case was transferred to Deputy DA Andy Truitt, who did not immediately return calls Friday. Geth's father didn't return calls either, but last fall had characterized "Jamie" as an industrious but troubled youth.
...Geth was sentenced to nine years in prison and two felony strikes against him.
◼ Jason Leon Belles
MURDER, HOME INVASION ROBBERY - One of two defendants accused of participating in a December 2008 home invasion robbery that left a Cutten man dead pleaded no contest Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter and related drug charges.
Jury selection for the trial of Jason Leon Belles, 31, and Jonathan Henry Watson, 30, was set to begin Monday but Belles pleaded Tuesday to reduced charges. He will be sentenced Aug. 21. The stipulated term of the plea deal was seven years and eight months in prison, according to court documents....
Belles accepted the plea deal from Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza that reduced a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter; a first-degree burglary charge to transporting more than an ounce of marijuana; and a first-degree attempted robbery charge to possessing marijuana for sale, according to court documents. A second attempted robbery charge was dismissed.....
Watson (wa)s charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
◼ Jonathan Henry Watson
Jason Leon Belles, 31, and Jonathan Henry Watson, 30, were scheduled to be sentenced after each pleaded no contest to charges related to the death of Benson during a home invasion robbery on Dec. 3, 2008.
Watson initially accepted a plea deal Aug. 11 from Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza for first-degree murder with a firearm enhancement and an agreed-upon prison term of 50 years to life. On Friday, he contested his previous plea.
Watson was then set to contest his plea... in a closed hearing. I don't seem to have any follow up on that
◼ Jesse Ray Perez
ASSAULT - Jesse Ray Perez, 27, was arrested Nov. 29, 2007, on suspicion of robbing the alleged victim, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with intent to commit a sexual felony, sexual penetration by a foreign object and drug charges. He pleaded guilty to assault with a firearm as a strike offense, being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance....
◼ Keyontae Lamar Taylor ...CHGs DROPPED
◼ Joaquin Angel Fitzgerald more... Sixteen-year-old pleads guilty
MERDER - (Fitzgerald) pleaded guilty to second degree murder...Fitzgerald, 16, and Keyontae Lamar Taylor, 15, were arrested in connection with the homicide of Tracy Daniel Reynolds less than a week after he was found dead near the railroad tracks by the Humboldt Hill exit of U.S. Highway 101, at approximately 1 p.m. on Feb. 24.
Fitzgerald (wa)s charged with committing murder during the commission of a robbery, personal use of a firearm during a robbery, torture and cruelty to an animal.
Taylor was charged with murder during the commission of a robbery, committing robbery while vicariously armed, torture and cruelty to an animal. However, per a plea agreement, the charges against him were dropped, and during Fitzgerald’s preliminary hearing in October, Taylor testified against him....
“The investigation indicated that the victim was shot first in the leg. The painful character of that wound (was) intended to speed up his cooperation with the robbery,”
Prior to his sentencing, Fitzgerald’s attorney Neal Sanders and Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison said an agreement was reached that his other charges, including unrelated infractions, would be dropped if Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
◼ Juan Jose Estrada-Chavez
ROBBERY KIDNAPPING ANS ASSAULT - arrested in May for kidnapping and robbing a 20-year-old woman at gunpoint from Sequoia Park, pleaded guilty to two of four charges ... initially faced four charges of robbery, kidnapping, assault with a firearm and false imprisonment. The charges of false imprisonment and assault with a firearm were dropped as part of the plea.
◼ Kelly Miller
A decorated war veteran from Eureka received a controversial sentence Thursday for a 2006 DUI car crash that left him and his girlfriend with serious injuries.
Kelly Miller, 24, was sentenced to five days in jail — the minimum allowed by law, according to Judge Dale Reinholtsen, who imposed the sentence despite objections from the victim’s parents.
◼ Mark Christopher McClung
allegedly trying to kill his girlfriend, and he was charged with "four felonies — false imprisonment/person used as a shield; false imprisonment; threatening crime with intent to terrorize; and assault with a deadly weapon or great bodily injury force with a kitchen knife — and the misdemeanor of resisting arrest or obstructing a public officer."
All of the new charges, assault, kidnapping were dismissed and he entered a plea to 2 years for false imprisonment (shades of GARZA) to run concurrent to the older prison sentence. (Meaning it is not added on top of the old sentence.)
After Thursday’s court proceedings, (McClung's attorney Russell) Clanton said that if McClung didn’t have the 10-year probation violation prison sentence hanging over his head, Thursday’s outcome may have been different. Clanton whined that he would have gotten a more "equitable" sentence if it hadn't for that earlier 10 yr sentence that he couldn't get out of. Doesn't he mean the guy could have gotten off scott-free? As it is, he only has to serve 5 years.
Were it not for that earlier sentence, which tied Gallegos' hands, you have to wonder if this guy would be seeing any prison time.
◼ Mongols - four men - Dustin Liebes, Eric Garcia, Eric Gunner Lundin, Brad Miller
MURDER - Members of the Mongols biker gang implicated in the shooting of a suspected Hells Angel in early November have all accepted plea agreements offered by the Humboldt County district attorney.
In the agreement offered on the third day of the preliminary hearing, three of four men admitted to participating in a criminal street gang -- an outcome that sets new precedent for prosecutors in Humboldt County, potentially easing legal efforts against gang members in the future.
Eric Gunner Lundin, the 28-year-old who shot Robert Thompson outside The Shanty in Old Town Eureka, pleaded no contest to felony charges of assault with a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang.
Lundin now faces between two and three years in prison at his sentencing Jan. 15.
Dustin Liebes, 36, and Eric Garcia, 28, both pleaded no contest to the felony charge of participation in a criminal street gang, and 26-year-old Brad Miller -- whom investigators believe was attempting to become a member of the gang -- pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the fact.
Those three men face up to one year in jail or one year probation at the Jan. 15 sentencing.
◼ Pedro Martinez-Hernandez
SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD - This was no ordinary case. Veteran prosecutors called it one of the biggest miscarriages of justice they had ever seen.
Not a traditional "molest" - this was a father forcibly raping his daughter every day for nine years, sometimes while the girl's young brother watched. This conduct started when she was five years old....
An arrest warrant issued for Martinez-Hernandez alleged continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation with a minor, incest, possession of a false Social Security card, possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.
Gallegos said the charges other than the continuous sexual abuse of a child were dropped....
The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office has reached an agreement with the Ferndale man who continually molested a child over the course of six or seven years.
Pedro Martinez-Hernandez, 39, entered a guilty plea Jan. 6 to one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos prosecuted the case.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said investigating deputies determined there were 1,900 counts of sexual intercourse against the minor and another 1,000 counts of similar instances, like oral copulation and fondling.
"We could charge the one count over and over again or we could charge the continuous act charge," Gallegos said.
Gallegos said the maximum prison sentence Martinez-Hernandez could receive is 16 years.
The California Penal Code states that one count of lewd or lascivious acts with a child carries a maximum penalty of eight years....
On Jan. 6, Pedro Martinez-Hernandez, 39, entered a guilty plea to one felony count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and a misdemeanor charge of providing false identification to a police officer. He was arrested outside of his home Dec. 24.
The Sheriff's Department has said that the investigating deputies determined there were more than 2,500 individual counts of sexual behavior.
Gallegos said that Martinez-Hernandez is no longer a threat to the community because he is now in prison.
"There's no one more committed to the safety of this community than me," Gallegos said....
On Friday, Gallegos said that Martinez-Hernandez was only formally charged with the two charges to which he entered guilty pleas.
In a telephone interview, Gallegos said he opted for the catch-all charge, because "if we charge someone with multiple counts, we have to show exactly when each incident took place and we have to prove each incident beyond a reasonable doubt."...
◼ Phillip Ellebrecht
SHOOTING - Dollison said Ellebrecht was initially charged with shooting at an inhabited dwelling and the negligent discharge of a firearm, and was bound for both charges following his preliminary hearing May 16.
If convicted of his initial charges, Ellebrecht could have faced a maximum of seven years in state prison, Dollison said.
However, on July 31, Ellebrecht accepted a plea offer of the negligent discharge of a firearm, Dollison said, which carries a maximum prison exposure of three years.
Via telephone, Nicholas Zingaro said one of the 14 bullets fired into his home went through his front door, missing his head by 1 inch.
“My daughter heard the shots and flipped out,” Nicholas Zingaro said. “I grabbed her from her bunk bed and we huddled to the ground.
“She couldn’t stop crying. We had to call her best friend’s parents. She couldn’t stay at the house. She had to stay at her best friend’s house that night.”
Nicholas Zingaro said he believed the sentencing to be “light.”
“Seriously,” Nicholas Zingaro said, “it’s like a slap on the wrist.”
◼ Ramon Roberto Klein
SEXUAL ASSAULT - A man who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Reggae on the River accepted a deal from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office earlier this week and pleaded guilty to sexual battery.
Ramon Roberto Klein, 28, of Daly City, was charged with assault with intent to commit mayhem or sex crimes, unlawful sexual penetration and unlawful possession of a specified controlled substance.
Klein also had two enhancements to his charges that he has a prior strike for being convicted of making criminal threats in 2001 and serving a prior prison term.
◼ Richard Craig Kesser (another bizarre use of a polygraph in a plea deal)
RETRIAL - Mary Kesser's body was found Nov. 26, 1991, in her N Street home with more than 30 stab wounds.
DA says plea deal a possibility in murder retrial
The retrial of two of three people convicted 15 years ago in the brutal slaying of Fortuna resident Mary Kesser may be over before it begins.
Following days of speculation within the law enforcement community, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos confirmed late Tuesday that a plea deal is possible in the first-degree murder case of Richard Craig Kesser and Jennifer Gayle Leahy.
In response to an e-mail question about a possible negotiated settlement, Gallegos stated, “Are there proposals out there? Yes. Have we reached an agreement? No. Is it possible that we will? Yes.”
Richard Kesser and Leahy were convicted in 1992 of hiring Stephen Duane Chiara to kill Mary Kesser, Richard’s estranged wife, a charge that included special allegations of murder for financial gain and lying in wait.
Mary Kesser, 30 years old and the mother of a then-4-year-old boy, was found two nights before Thanksgiving 1991 in her N Street home stabbed 34 times in her head, chest, back, abdomen and hands, according to court documents.
Chiara was quickly arrested, and within days police followed a trail of clues back to Richard Kesser and Leahy in what investigators called a murder-for-hire plot.
Kesser cuts deal in murder case
A Fortuna man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his estranged wife in 1991 reached a plea agreement with the District Attorney's Office Wednesday that could require him to testify against his former girlfriend.
Richard Craig Kesser's retrial was scheduled to begin this week.
Under the agreement, Kesser is required to make a full statement and answer any questions regarding the death of his estranged wife, Mary Kesser. He will also have to take a polygraph test and testify “truthfully” in any trial related to her death.
◼ Robert William Stepp Jr
A SLEW OF CHARGES - an offer on the table, no final report: Robert William Stepp Jr. - the charges and special allegations... from the two cases — consolidated in the new information/complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office on Monday: charged with kidnapping for the purpose of carjacking; personal use of a dangerous weapon; false imprisonment; use of a deadly/dangerous weapon, a knife; committing a crime while out of custody on bail or on his own recognizance; attempted second-degree robbery; brandishing a deadly weapon in an angry/threatening manner; and unlawful possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. pled to ____?
◼ Robin Stuart Bradshaw
MERDER - Robin Stuart Bradshaw entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors... agreeing to disclose the location of his wife's body and plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, court records show.
According to court documents, Robin Bradshaw entered his guilty plea..., pleading to a single count of voluntary manslaughter upon a sudden quarrel or the heat of passion and making a false insurance claim. He faces a 12-year prison sentence. As a condition of the plea, Robin Bradshaw was to disclose the location of his wife's body.
◼ Steven Daniel Hash
Cold Case - MURDER/MANSLAUGHTER - Steven Daniel Hash pleaded guilty... to manslaughter in the death of Curtis Huntzinger, a 14-year-old Blue Lake boy killed in 1990.
As members of Huntzinger's family watched, Assistant District Attorney Wes Keat read the terms of the plea agreement, which stipulated Hash will serve 11 years in prison, and pay a total of more than $9,000 in restitution fines.
◼ Todd William Gonsalves
...Todd William Gonsalves was sentenced to three years in prison as part of a negotiated agreement.
Gonsalves pleaded guilty to a single count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child younger than 14, with a stipulated sentence of three years in prison, of which he must serve at least 85 percent. (30 months)
In exchange, two identical charges were dropped, and sentences for unrelated misdemeanor cases will run concurrent with the three-year term.
Additionally, Gonsalves must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Going into the sentencing hearing, (the victim's mother) expressed displeasure with the handling of the case by the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office....
other reports show...A 34-year-old Eureka man who authorities have been looking for in connection with a 2006 child molestation case was returned to Humboldt County Tuesday after being arrested in Texas.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Detective Ben Nord said Todd William Gonsalves was arrested about three weeks ago by U.S. Marshals in Texas.
Gonsalves was booked into the Humboldt County Jail Tuesday on warrants out connected to 2003 cases alleging making threats and interfering with a police officer, a 2005 case alleging illegal use of a credit card and a 2006 case alleging continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Nord said the sexual abuse allegedly occurred against a single female victim over the course of three years.
◼ Elliott Michael Walin
ASSAULT WITH A FIREARM - A judge found sufficient evidence, following an April 3 preliminary hearing, to bind Elliott Michael Walin over on being a felon in possession of a firearm, a sawed-off shotgun; being a felon in possession of ammunition; possession of a sawed-off shotgun; assault with a firearm; felon in possession of a short-barreled shotgun; and grand theft auto, with a special allegation that Walin did so with a sawed-off shotgun and another special allegation that Walin has a prior felony vehicle theft conviction.
“The defendant (pleaded) to (being) a felon in possession of ammunition, (being) a felon in possession of a weapon — a shotgun,” Dollison said, “and he admitted to having (served) three prior prison terms.
Weirdness: A motion for the protective order request, filed by the Humboldt County Public Defender’s Office, will be heard before Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson on Monday.
If the request for the protective order — also known as a gag order — is granted, it will prevent trial attorneys, court officials and other trial participants from talking to media about the case....
Klein (had said) that he was still considering adding the following charges to the complaint against Walin “due to the evidence presented at Walin’s preliminary hearing”: robbery of a vehicle by force or fear with the use of a firearm and attempted murder with the use of a gun.
◼ Jason Whitmill and Anthony Flores more
Two men involved in a street race on State Route 299 in October 2008 that caused an accident that killed a 9-year-old McKinleyville girl have accepted plea deals on the eve of their trial.
Jason Whitmill, 31, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing bodily injury. Anthony Flores, 19, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and hit and run.
Whitmill agreed to serve 14 years and eight months in prison, and Flores agreed to serve four years, according to Ken Quigley, the father of the 9-year-old girl, Nicole Quigley....
...Ken Quigley, father of Nicole Quigley, attended nearly every court appearance by Whitmill and Flores with many family members and friends. He expressed frustration that the District Attorney's Office never discussed the plea bargain with him or his family.
”We didn't find out until yesterday afternoon, late, that this was even in the works,” Quigley said on Friday. “We're very disappointed in how this worked out.”
He blamed District Attorney Paul Gallegos for settling instead of going for a stronger sentence.
”We have the most incompetent DA in the state,” Quigley said.
A call seeking comment from Gallegos was not returned by deadline Friday.
In a press release, the DA's office stated that it was a potential technicality that led to the decision to accept the pleas.
”The case has been delayed in going to trial as the defense has appealed the issue of defendant Whitmill's blood being drawn without his consent at a time when it was unknown who the driver of the vehicle was,” the release states.
Initially, Cheri Marcelli -- Whitmill's wife -- was listed as the driver in police reports but it was later changed to Whitmill.
Neither the California Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeals has ruled on the appeal, the DA's office said.
”Given that issue, the prosecution made the decision to accept the plea,” the release states. “The murder charge was dismissed in exchange for his plea to these counts with the agreement he would waive his appeal rights and be sentenced to the maximum term for each count.”
◼ William Joseph Lenard
FELONY CHILD MOLESTATION - William Joseph Lenard was arrested in September for 19 various felony charges of child molestation....
The defendant, William Joseph Lenard, 52, was charged with 19 (nineteen) felony counts of child molestation. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.
◼ William Richard Churchill
Due to a plea agreement error, William Richard Churchill’s sentencing was postponed...
Churchill pleaded no contest to a plea of assault, with serious bodily injury, during a time Schwartz — the prosecutor in the case — was not available to be in court.
Schwartz said there was confusion with the Deputy DA present at the prior plea proceedings on what plea bargain was actually agreed upon by both the prosecution and defense.
Wednesday, everything was cleared up, with Churchill pleading no contest to his agreed-upon plea — aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — being a knife.
At sentencing, Churchill faces a maximum of four years in prison and a minimum of three years probation, Schwartz said.
The plea is also a strike offense, meaning if Churchill is subsequently convicted of another felony, that penalty would be doubled. A third strike is punishable with a prison term of 25 years to life....
Churchill’s case stem(med) from an altercation that occurred on Jan. 25 at The Shanty bar in Old Town, Eureka, after Churchill, 31, of Eureka, in which Matthew Fordham, 26, of Eureka, was ultimately stabbed multiple times.
Churchill’s initial charges include the attempted murder of Fordham.
THE EZRA SANDERS MURDER
◼ Jeffrey Alan Burgess
In the Ezra Sanders murder - Burgess took a plea to first degree robbery with special allegations that include acting in concert with two or more persons and personally discharging a firearm during the commission of a felony
◼ Lukus Larry Mace
pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter... as part of a deal that will have him face a maximum of six years in prison. Mace (testified) that he believed it was Burgess that shot Sanders at his trailer in a McKinleyville RV park at around 1 a.m. on Feb. 24, as part of an attempted robbery.
◼ Ruben Anthony Peredia, 32, of Eureka, a plea deal with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office.... was sentenced to serve 13 years and four months in state prison Friday, after pleading guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and burglary, with a special enhancement for being armed during his role in the shooting death of 30-year-old Ezra Sanders.
◼ Tracey Joleen Williams pending?