Thursday, July 21, 2016

Attorneys: Fortuna Mom Standing by to Surrender in Fatal Hit and Run Case

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 8:56 PM

click to enlarge chp-patch.gif
Just hours after the California Highway Patrol sent out a press release asking for the public’s assistance in locating a Fortuna woman named a person of interest in last week’s hit and run crash that left two teenage girls dead — including her own daughter — her attorneys sent a letter to the CHP maintaining that she is standing by, ready to surrender when asked.

“I am troubled by the nature of CHP’s continuing press releases that state that [Marcia] Kitchen is ‘in hiding’ and, especially now, that … CHP has asked for the public’s aid to find/contact her (and Josh Pearlston),” reads the letter, penned by local attorney Ben Okin on behalf of he and Patrik Griego. “This misinformation has the potential of misleading the public and unnecessarily endangering people. … We have consistently indicated that if you desired to arrest Ms. Kitchen … we would make her immediately available for arrest. I am also aware that you had in person contacts with Josh Pearlston just yesterday and chose not to detain or arrest him.”

The letter, which Okin and Griego say they faxed to CHP around 7 p.m. tonight, was also emailed to the Journal, which has left numerous messages for Okin this week seeking updates on the case and the whereabouts of his client.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on July 12, the CHP received a report of a hit and run collision on Eel River Drive in Fortuna. Responding officers found one girl dead at the scene and another — Kitchen’s daughter — critically injured. She later died at an Oakland hospital. CHP identified a gray Jeep as the suspect vehicle and the community was shocked the following day when the vehicle was found in the backyard of the Kitchens’ family home with damage matching debris found at the accident site.

click to enlarge Marcia Maelinda Kitchen, who also calls herself Marci Marz. - FACEBOOK
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  • Marcia Maelinda Kitchen, who also calls herself Marci Marz.
After being largely silent about the case for the last week, the CHP issued a press release this afternoon saying investigators are working diligently on the case. “Investigators have made multiple attempts to contact Ms. Marcia Maelinda Kitchen, the registered owner of the Jeep, and her boyfriend, Mr. Joshua Wren Pearlston, for questioning,” the release stated. “At this time, Ms. Kitchen and Mr. Pearlston have not made themselves available to investigators and their whereabouts are unknown. The CHP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Ms. Kitchen and Mr. Pearlston as they are parties of interest in this investigation. As a reminder to the public, the CHP may file criminal charges on anyone who has provided aid in hiding or concealing evidence in this case.”

The attorneys’ letter maintains they have been in “essentially daily” contact with, and available to, CHP. Further, the letter maintains that it was actually one of Kitchen's attorneys who alerted CHP to the location of her vehicle and even turned over keys to her residence to accommodate a search.

While at first blush the press release and the letter seem in stark contrast, it could boil down to a matter of semantics and investigative tactics. It could be that CHP wants to question Kitchen and Pearlston in the case without affording them the constitutional protections an arrest would provide, and that Kitchen’s attorneys are saying she will not speak to investigators but is ready to surrender if they obtain an arrest warrant.

At the conclusion of the attorneys’ letter, they indicate their willingness to meet CHP investigators at the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office to discuss the case. They stop short, however, of offering their client up for questioning, saying only that she “remains willing to surrender herself to law enforcement immediately.”

For more information about the case, see past Journal coverage here. And, check out the full press release from CHP and the full letter from Kitchen’s attorneys copied below, and available here in PDF form.

July 21, 2016

Humboldt Area CHP
Arcata, CA 95521

As you know, Attorney Patrik Griego and I represent Ms. Kitchen in the case you are currently investigating.  
On Wednesday, July 13th, Attorney Neal Sanders contacted your office on my and Ms. Kitchen’s behalf within 60 minutes of her return to Humboldt County from her daughters’ death bed in Oakland.  That call was not returned for several hours prompting Mr. Sanders to again contact your office prior to the close of business. Mr. Sanders provided law enforcement with the location of the vehicle involved in the accident as well as the keys to the residence where the vehicle was located.  Mr. Sanders and I also offered to immediately surrender Ms. Kitchen to law enforcement, which CHP declined pending further investigation.
I am troubled by the nature of CHP’s continuing press releases that state that Ms. Kitchen is “in hiding” and, especially now, that that CHP asked for the public’s aid to find/contact her (and Josh Pearlston). This misinformation has the potential of misleading the public and unnecessarily endangering people. Attorney Griego and myself have been in essentially daily contact with and available to CHP since July 13. We have consistently indicated that if you desired to arrest Ms. Kitchen prior to being able to complete our preliminary investigation that we would make her immediately available for arrest. I am also aware that you had in person contact with Josh Pearlston just yesterday and chose not to detain or arrest him.
I urge your office to release information to the public confirming the foregoing facts, and dispel the notion that either Ms. Kitchen or Mr. Pearlston are “in hiding” to avoid arrest or contact with law enforcement. This is simply not true.
We remain available to meet with your office and or the District Attorney’s Office to discuss this tragic case. And our client remains willing to surrender herself to law enforcement immediately.
___________________
Benjamin Okin
Attorney At Law

___________________
Patrik Griego
Attorney at Law

Submitted by Fax to (707) 822-8939


PUBLIC ASSISTANCE REQUESTED: FATAL HIT-AND-RUN TRAFFIC COLLISION ON EEL RIVER DRIVE SOUTH OF KENMAR ROAD.

UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol (CHP), Humboldt Area, has worked diligently to identify the driver of the gray 2015 Jeep Wrangler which was involved in last week’s fatal hit and run traffic collision in Fortuna, on July 12, 2016. After the execution of a search warrant, the Jeep was recovered by CHP investigators on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. The Jeep was located in a fenced backyard, behind a gate, at the registered owner’s home. Investigators have made multiple attempts to contact Ms. Marcia Maelinda Kitchen, the registered owner of the Jeep, and her boyfriend, Mr. Joshua Wren Pearlston, for questioning. Upon the CHP locating the Jeep, Ms. Kitchen’s attorney contacted the CHP to help facilitate her questioning. At this time, Ms. Kitchen and Mr. Pearlston have not made themselves available to investigators and their whereabouts are unknown. The CHP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Ms. Kitchen and Mr. Pearlston as they are parties of interest in this investigation. As a reminder to the public, the CHP may file criminal charges on anyone who has provided aid in hiding or concealing evidence in this case. We ask the public to please be patient with us as this investigation continues to unfold; this is a very complex case and we have to be thorough to ensure those who are responsible are held accountable for their crimes. CHP investigators have been working day and night to bring this investigation to a close and we appreciate the public’s assistance and support.

*****Anyone with information regarding this investigation should contact the Humboldt Area CHP office at 707-822-5981 during business hours or the Humboldt Communications Center at 707-268-2000 after business hours.*****

ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE:

Hit and Run Fatality Collision on Eel River Drive

Fortuna, California- On the evening of Tuesday, July 12, two female teenage pedestrians sustained fatal injuries after being struck by a passing Light Gray colored Jeep vehicle.

At approximately 9:16 p.m., an unknown driver was driving a light gray colored, newer model Jeep type vehicle southbound on Eel River Drive, s/of Kenmar Road at an unknown speed. Two young female teenagers were skateboarding northbound in the southbound lane of Eel River Drive, s/of Kenmar Road. For unknown reasons the Jeep struck the teenagers. The Jeep fled the scene and was last seen heading eastbound on Drake Hill Road. One teenager was pronounced deceased at the scene and the other was transported by ambulance to Redwood Memorial Hospital for major injuries before being flown to the Oakland Children’s Hospital. On July 13, 2016, at 0630 hours, the second girl succumbed to her injuries and passed away at Oakland Children’s Hospital.

The California Highway Patrol-Humboldt Area responded to the scene and is conducting the investigation. Several Fortuna Police Officers were first responder. Personnel from Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department, City Ambulance of Eureka, and Humboldt County Coroner’s Office responded to the scene.

Sgt. Campbell is the scene manager and Officer Adams will be handling the investigation

The suspect vehicle should have moderate to major front end and driver side damage.


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