Crime

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Whitethorn Woman Faces 10-Year Prison Term for Environmentally Destructive Grow

Posted By on Sat, Mar 26, 2016 at 2:50 PM

The scenic King Range National Conservation Area. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • The scenic King Range National Conservation Area.

A Whitethorn woman has pleaded guilty to charges of depredation against the property of the United States, admitting to doing more than $100,000 worth of environmental damage to federal lands as a part of her marijuana cultivation operation.

Melinda Van Horne entered the plea Wednesday, according to a press release, and is free on bond awaiting sentencing in July, when she faces a maximum term of 10 years in federal prison.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Manslaughter Arrest Made in September Death

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 10:13 AM

Terry Lee Thomas - COURTESY OF THOMAS' FAMILY
  • Courtesy of Thomas' family
  • Terry Lee Thomas
The Eureka Police Department has arrested a 24-year-old on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter for the September death of a local homeless man, Terry Lee Thomas.

Thomas, 63, was found bloodied and unresponsive shortly after 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 in the parking lot of the Courthouse Market in the 900 block of Fourth Street. He later died at a local hospital and an autopsy ruled his death a homicide.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Mills Mulls Prison Reform With Gov. Brown, Other Chiefs

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 4:21 PM

Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills. - FILE
  • File
  • Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills.
Eureka Police Department Chief Andy Mills and police chiefs from around the state met with Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday, March 17 at the 2016 California Police Chiefs Association Symposium to discuss Brown's November ballot initiative, which would ostensibly streamline the early release of nonviolent offenders from prison.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Yurok Tribal Chair Resigns in the Shadow of Old Murder Case

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 6:56 PM

When information bubbled into public view about his past, James Dunlap resigned his post as Yurok Tribal chair this afternoon. - FACEBOOK/JAMES DUNLAP
  • Facebook/James Dunlap
  • When information bubbled into public view about his past, James Dunlap resigned his post as Yurok Tribal chair this afternoon.
Yurok Tribal Chair James Dunlap resigned today, as a dark period from his past bubbled into public view.

Early in the day, social media reports began to surface that Dunlap — elected to chair the tribe last year — had fatally stabbed his 3-month-old daughter in San Mateo back in 1988. Within hours, a press release came from the Yurok Tribe announcing Dunlap’s resignation “following the discovery of information from his past.”

The press release states that the tribe “recently became aware” of Dunlap’s past, with tribal Vice Chair David Gensaw Sr. calling it a “sad and frustrating day for the Yurok people.”

According to the San Jose Mercury News, on Sept. 9, 1988, San Mateo police arrived at a house where Dunlap and his family were visiting relatives “just as James Dunlap, 30, of Hoopa, was lifting the girl over his head and yelling out that he had sacrificed her to God. The girl, Brittaney, had been stabbed with a buck knife in her crib, police said.”

Police then took Dunlap to the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, where he reportedly told workers he’d killed his daughter “to set her free for God.” Police said they suspected Dunlap was under the influence of methamphetamine.

San Mateo Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said Dunlap was ultimately charged with murder, and entered dual pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. After a jury convicted Dunlap in 1990 of second degree murder for the infant’s slaying, it deemed him legally insane at the time. Guidotti said Dunlap was then sent to Atascadero State Hospital but, at the order of a San Mateo County Superior Court judge, was released to outpatient status in 1993. After a couple of years of community supervision and outpatient treatment, Dunlap was found “restored to sanity in 1995,” according to Guidotti.

To find a defendant not guilty by reason of insanity in California, a jury must decide the evidence shows the defendant both didn’t understand the “nature and quality of his act” and wasn’t able to distinguish between right and wrong at the time he or she committed the crimes.

In a short bio written for his campaign for tribal office, Dunlap states he grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended San Jose State University. He notes that he was president of the All Indian Boarding Schools Association from 2001 until 2006, and that he currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors for Drug and Alcohol Detox and Treatment Services. He states that he carries in his pocket a “chip celebrating 26 years of sobriety.”

Judging from the tribe’s official response and tribal members' comments on social media it appears that most were unaware of Dunlap’s past, but that’s a bit curious as the tribe claims in its press release that “all Tribal elected officials are put through a background investigation.”

In its press release, the tribe notes that the tribal council “does not have any additional comments at this time.” Attempts to reach Dunlap for comment on this story were unsuccessful.
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Video Captures Failed Armed Robbery

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 12:10 PM


A McKinleyville man was arrested last night after citizens detained him during an attempted robbery of a liquor store on Eureka's Fifth Street and the whole exchange was captured on the above surveillance video. See the full press release from Eureka Police Department below.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UPDATE: Suspect in Hoopa Stabbing Death Arrested

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 4:36 PM

Gerold Sotolongo
  • Gerold Sotolongo
The Humboldt County Sheriff's SWAT team apprehended murder suspect Gearold Sotolongo at a Hoopa residence this morning, according to a press release.

Sotolongo was wanted in connection with the Feb. 13 killing of Hoopa and Weitchpec resident Rodger Allen Yale.  

From the Sheriff's Office:

On Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at approximately 9:03 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and Humboldt Drug Task Force (DTF) served a Ramey Warrant on a residence on Tish Tang Rd, Hoopa. The warrant was for 25 year old Gearold Sotolongo. Sotolongo is suspected of murdering 30 year old Roger Alan Yale in the Hoopa Valley on Saturday, February 13, 2016. The SWAT team safely took Sotolongo into custody. Sotolongo was taken to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for murder. His bail has been set at $1,000,000.

PREVIOUSLY:

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has confirmed the identity of the 30-year-old man killed Saturday morning as Rodger Allen Yale, of Hoopa and Weitchpec. A family member positively identified Yale last night, according to Lt. Wayne Hanson. 

Officials are releasing few details about Yale's death, only that a call came into dispatch at 8:32 on Saturday morning reporting a disturbance at the Hoopa Mini-Mart on State Route 96. A second call at 8:39 confirmed that a man had been stabbed. At 9:01 a.m., an ambulance transporting Yale was en route to the helipad for a medical airlift, but he died before the helicopter left the ground.

The HCSO has identified Gearold Sotolongo, also known as Roldo Pratt or "Soto," a 30-year-old man also from Hoopa as a suspect. Responding to a tip, detectives raided a residential home on Monday morning with the help of a SWAT team but came up empty-handed. Some details, such as the type of weapon and the nature of the conflict that led to Yale's death, are still not being released as detectives continue to search for Sotolongo, who was last seen in the area of the Alameda Trailer Park on State Route 96. Sotolongo is described as 30-year-old Native American male, standing 5 feet, eight inches tall and weighing 225 pounds, with black shoulder length hair and a full beard.

The Sheriff's Office asks that anyone with information call 445-7251 or leave an anonymous tip at 268-2539.

The full press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
****Updated Release****

Based the ongoing HCSO investigation into this mornings’ homicide in the Hoopa Valley, detectives have named Gearold Sotolongo aka Roldo Pratt as a suspect and he is now wanted for that homicide.

Sotolongo is described as 30 year old Native American male, 5’8, 225 lbs, black shoulder length hair and a full beard. Sotolongo was last seen in the area of the Alameda Trailer Park on Highway 96.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or Detective T. Fulton at 707-268-3646

On 02-13-16, at approximately 8:32 AM, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a disturbance in the Hoopa Valley. Deputies and Medical personnel arrived on scene and began life saving efforts on a 30 year old male. The victim was transported to a landing zone to be flown out by helicopter. The victim succumbed to his injury prior to being transported by helicopter.

There are no suspects at this time. This incident is currently being investigated by Detectives with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at
707-268-2539.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Run, Hide, Fight: EPD Prepares Residents for Active Shooter

Posted By and on Sat, Mar 5, 2016 at 10:39 AM

An intent crowd at the active shooter training. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • An intent crowd at the active shooter training.
"Don't ever say it won't happen here," said Eureka Police Capt. Brian Stephens, who led a training on active shooter situations to a packed audience at the Sequoia Conference Center on Thursday afternoon. The presentation, which included several training videos and a demonstration with volunteers from the Eureka Boys and Girls Club, had practical advice for those who might face an active shooter in their school, place of work or public gathering. Although Humboldt County has not experienced an active shooter situation, Stephens was careful to point out that even smaller communities had been victims of armed shooters intent on killing others.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

'A Wake of Destruction:' Warren's Probation Report Sheds New Light on Cruz Waiver

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 5:19 PM

Jason Anthony Warren
  • Jason Anthony Warren
By the time a Humboldt County Superior Court judge agreed to release Jason Anthony Warren from jail on Aug. 24, 2012 to allow him to get his affairs in order prior to being sentenced to a six-year state prison bid for illegally possessing a firearm, the then 27-year-old Warren had already amassed a criminal record that included 18 run-ins with the law.

After being released from custody by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna at the request of his defense attorney — and without any objection for the district attorney’s office — Warren failed to show up for his sentencing hearing two weeks later. Then, on Sept. 27, 2012, Warren tortured and murdered Dorothy Ulrich in her Hoopa home before driving to Eureka and intentionally running down three joggers from behind, killing Suzanne Seemann and seriously injuring the other two.

A pre-sentencing probation report filed after Warren’s conviction details how he was born into poverty, the son of a heroin addicted mother and a father he never met in Eureka, and that he has been in trouble with the law since the age of 6. The report also brings into sharp focus old questions about why Cissna agreed to let Warren out of custody in August of 2012, and why the district attorney’s office didn't oppose Warren’s request.

According to the report, Warren was born Sept. 20, 1984, “the product of a casual relationship between his mother Lynn Ann Warren … and Terry Hartman.” However, the report notes that Warren’s mother was married to another man — Paul Warren — at the time of Jason’s birth. “Defendant said he never met either man.”

When Warren was 5, his mother — who the report notes was a heroin addict from the age of 15 — was sentenced to serve two years in prison for drug possession and Warren went to live with his maternal great aunt, Lillian Hickey. While Warren spent his early years in Eureka, he moved out to Hoopa with Hickey at the age of 9. According to the report, Hickey supported herself and Warren with the assistance of a federal welfare program.

By the time Warren relocated east, he’d already been in trouble with the law. According to the report, shortly before his 7th birthday, he was contacted by police for dumping liquid soap all over the bathroom of a Pro Sport Center and attempting to steal a knife from the store.

After the move, Warren seems to have gotten in an escalating string of trouble: at 10, he was contacted for throwing candy at a residence; at 11, he was arrested for taking Hickey’s car without her permission and joyriding; at 12, he brought an unspecified weapon to school and tried to sell it, and later was arrested for stealing several items from the Bayshore Mall; at 13, he was caught placing a 40-ounce bottle of beer under his coat and trying to steal it from Ray’s Food Place in Hoopa.

It was after Warren’s 14th birthday that his behavior began to turn violent, according to the report. In December of 1998, he assaulted someone at Hoopa High School. After the assault and battery, he was removed from Hickey’s care and retained as a ward of the court, which sent him to live at Crystal Creek Regional Boys Camp for an unspecified amount of time. It doesn’t seem to have done much good as he was arrested two months later for again assaulting someone on school grounds — this time twice in one day — and resisting an officer. This led to another unspecified stint at Crystal Creek.

Three arrests followed in 1999, for stealing some basketball shoes out of a student’s locker at Hoopa High, for throwing a rock at a car and for marijuana possession. In February of 2000, he was arrested for throwing someone to the ground, kicking them in the head and repeatedly hitting them in the face with a closed fist. A month later, he pulled a knife on a fellow student at Hoopa High, leading to his first stint in juvenile hall, according to the report.

In 2001, before Warren’s 17th birthday, he was arrested for burglary — breaking into the Klamath-Trinity Unified School District compound yard and stealing gas from a van — and for domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon after he assaulted his pregnant girlfriend. She later gave birth to Warren's son who is now 14.

But all those arrests would pale in comparison to what happened on April 10, 2001, when in a fashion hauntingly similar to the murders in 2012, Warren caught a cab driven by Cid Miller. While riding through McKinleyville, Warren — for no apparent reason — attacked Miller from behind, stabbing him in the back, shoulder and chest before Miller dove from the moving vehicle. Warren then took the cab and attempted to “run down two young men on bicycles in Arcata” before attempting to run down a pedestrian near Blue Lake. For the second time in a year, Warren was sent to the California Youth Authority. While in custody there in December of 2001, Warren attacked another detainee who made some “antagonistic comments regarding [Warren’s] son,” according to the report.

According to the report, Warren was released from the academy in 2006 and resided in Eureka. His first arrest as an adult came at the age of 22, when in April of 2007 he was picked up for being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 32 months in prison. After his release, he violated the conditions of his parole four times, according to the report.

Then, in March of 2012, Warren was accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm and assault with a deadly weapon. After some months in jail, on Aug. 24, 2012, Warren entered into a plea agreement that was a bit complicated due to his request for a Cruz waiver, which allows a defendant who has pleaded guilty to be released from custody until the time of his sentencing in order to get his or her affairs in order before incarceration. The agreements carry the threat of a heftier sentence if the defendant fails to return to jail when they are ordered to.

Under the terms of Warren’s agreement, he pleaded guilty to both the assault with a deadly weapon and firearm charges. If he showed up at his Sept. 7, 2012 sentencing hearing, as ordered, the assault charge would be dropped and he would be sentenced to six years in state prison. If he failed to show up, the assault charge would remain and he’d be sentenced to three additional years in prison.

On Aug. 24, 2012, Warren appeared before Cissna and entered the pleas. According to an article in the Two Rivers Tribune, Deputy District Attorney Zach Curtis, who appeared at the hearing for the DA’s Office, was asked to explain on the record his reasons for not opposing Warren’s release under the Cruz waiver. He declined, and Cissna accepted Warren’s pleas, granted the Cruz waiver and ordered him released from custody, to return in two weeks time for sentencing.

He never did, and on Sept. 27, 2012, he murdered Ulrich and Seemann in what’s been described as one of the most horrible crimes in recent Humboldt County history. In his interview with a parole officer for the pre-sentencing investigation report, Warren declined to discuss the events surrounding the killings, on the advice of his attorney.

“The ripple effect of defendant’s actions have reverberated through this community and will be felt for years, if not generations to come,” the probation report states. “Two young children and their father are without the loving mother, and wife they deserved to have raise them and grow old with. Defendant’s lifetime incarceration cannot heal that void or bring back their loving mother and partner.

… Defendant has contributed nothing to this community or to society as a whole and has left a wake of destruction in his path. These victims were all accomplished, positive, productive members of this community, and this community will forever be deprived of their best efforts to create a better community for all.”

Warren, who is now at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, which acts as a reception center for the state prison system. According to Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming, the prison is currently holding Warren on his case from March of 2012. As soon as it receives his final sentencing papers from the double murder case, he will be transferred to a maximum security prison.

Editor's Note: This story was updated from a previous version to correct the title of the California Youth Authority.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

DA: No Charges in Fatal Hoopa Officer-Involved Shooting

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 7:49 PM

c6f90d6481b0f6863d6df0273e8cd9f9.jpg
Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming announced today that no criminal charges will be filed against Hoopa Tribal Police Sgt. Seth Ruiz stemming from his fatal Sept. 4 shooting of an armed suspect near Weitchpec.

In a press release, Fleming stated that she reviewed all evidence in the case, including the statements of three civilian witnesses who saw the shooting, and determined that Ruiz acted in self defense when he shot 47-year-old Richard Kelley after a high speed pursuit. Kelley, Fleming said, opened fire on Ruiz, leaving his squad car riddled with bullet holes, before Ruiz returned fire and fatally wounded Kelley.

See the full DA's press release below, and see past Journal coverage of the shooting here.

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UPDATED: DA: No Death Penalty in Gang Murder Case

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 10:53 AM

Clockwise from top left: Joe Olivo Jr., Nicholas Leigl, Joe Olivo III, Mario Nunez. - COURTESY OF EPD
  • Courtesy of EPD
  • Clockwise from top left: Joe Olivo Jr., Nicholas Leigl, Joe Olivo III, Mario Nunez.
UPDATE:
Eighteen-year-old Joe Olivo III, one of four men accused of the gang-related murder of a 14-year-old Arcata boy in 2014, will be tried as an adult in the case, according Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming.

Olivo III, who police identified as a Sureño gang member, was arrested Feb. 2 in San Luis Obispo and is being charged with the Dec. 17, 2014 slaying of Jesus “Smiley” Romero-Garcia. Now 18, Olivo would have been 17, or possibly 16, at the time of Romero-Garcia’s killing, making him a juvenile in the eyes of the court, which judges defendant’s juvenile status by their age at the time of their alleged offense not when they are charged.

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