Monday, May 15, 2017

One of Petrolia's Zebras Fatally Shot

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 5:05 PM

  • Carrie Peyton Dahlberg
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting of one of the three famed zebras that lives on Mattole Road near Petrolia.

Sheriff William Honsal said his office received a report of the shooting Saturday morning, saying it appears someone used a small caliber rifle to fatally shoot the zebra sometime during the preceding night. He said the animal's owner went out to the pasture Saturday morning to find the animal lying down and, upon closer inspection, found a single bullet hole.

"It is currently being investigated," Honsal said, urging anyone with information to call the sheriff's office at 445-7251 or the crime tip line at 268-2539.

The zebra — known as "Randy" — is one of three that have long delighted passersby on  the Lost Coast. According to our coverage in 2013, the animals were then owned by fashion designers based in Los Angeles but were being cared for by a father and son team, Luis Juarez Sr. and Jr., who made the drive from Ferndale several days a week to feed the animals and put them in at night. The animals reported came to the Lost Coast by way of a zebra ranch in Oroville.

Honsal said his office will issue a full press release in the morning. We'll update this post with more information as we receive it.
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kitchen Held For Trial in DUI Manslaughter Case

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 1:48 PM

Marcia Kitchen's booking photo.
  • Marcia Kitchen's booking photo.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Feeney ruled yesterday that there is sufficient evidence to hold Marci Kitchen to stand trial on manslaughter charges stemming from allegations that she was driving drunk when she hit and killed her daughter and another girl in July.

Kitchen was held to answer on charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing death, as well as a special allegation that she fled the scene. Kitchen was arrested in September following a months-long investigation into the July 12 crash that left her daughter, 14-year-old Kiya Kitchen, and her friend, Faith Tsarnas, also 14, dead.

Feeney’s ruling came after two and a half days of seemingly gut-wrenching testimony from investigating officers and Kitchen’s son. Both the Times-Standard and Lost Coast Outpost covered the hearings daily.

Kitchen remains free after posting $750,000 bail.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

UPDATE: Name of Shelter Cove Man Killed in 'Intentional' Collision Released

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Jesse Simpson - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Jesse Simpson
Update: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office today identified the man killed May 3 in what officials described as an intentional act as Shelter Cove resident Jesse Earl Simpson. He was 42.


A fatal traffic collision in Shelter Cove yesterday left one person dead and a 45-year-man has been arrested in what officials are calling "an intentional act."

Few details are being released at this time, but both the Redheaded Blackbelt and the Lost Coast Outpost reported that the person killed was a pedestrian. The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office identified the suspect as Eric Lively. The victim's identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:
On 05-03-17 Officers from the California Highway Patrol were dispatched to a fatal traffic collision in the Shelter Cove area of Southern Humboldt County. Once on scene, CHP Officers determined the collision was the result of an intentional act.

Detectives from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office responded and took over the investigation. Suspect Eric Lively (45 years old) was arrested and is being charged with homicide. The victim’s identity is being withheld until next of kin can be notified.

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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Skilled Nursing Defendants File for Change of Venue

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 11:03 AM

  • Shlomo Rechnitz
Shlomo Rechnitz can’t get a fair trial in Humboldt County. That’s the contention of the law firm representing the skilled nursing magnate, Lewis Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith LLP, which recently filed a motion for a change of venue in one of the three wrongful death and elder abuse suits filed against Rechnitz and his company, Brius Healthcare Management.

The case in question revolves around Ralph Sorensen, a patient at Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center who died Jan. 27, 2016 after complications related to an infected pressure ulcer. In the complaint, local law firm Janssen Malloy LLP alleges that Sorensen’s death is correlated to low staffing levels at the facility and charges Seaview, Rechnitz, Brius and the administrative services company Rockport with wrongful death related to elder abuse and neglect.

The motion filed by Rechnitz’s attorneys, which will be heard on May 25, says “there is a reason to believe that an impartial trial in Humboldt cannot be had.” As evidence for this claim, the motion cites a 2011 meeting between Rechnitz and then-District Attorney Paul Gallegos in which Gallegos “threatened to jail someone if understaffing continued to occur at the facilities.”

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Judge Dismisses Murder Charge in Slaying of HSU Student

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 3:34 PM

  • Arcata Police Department
  • Kyle Zoellner
Update: The city of Arcata released a statement that is copied in its entirety below the original post, as are statements from Humboldt State University and the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office.

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen ruled this afternoon that there is insufficient evidence to hold Kyle Christopher Zoellner to stand trial on a charge that he murdered David Josiah Lawson on April 15.

Friends and family of Zoellner’s clapped as the judge announced his ruling, after which bailiffs quickly led the defendant out of the packed courtroom. Some who had been attending the hearing in support of Lawson, a 19-year-old Humboldt State University sophomore, wept in the hallway afterward.

Reinholtsen offered a lengthy explanation of his ruling and the deficiencies in the prosecutors' case against Zoellner, saying there wasn’t a single witness that put a knife in Zoellner’s hands that night, much less who claimed to have seen the fatal stabbing. And at this early juncture — just a few weeks after the killing — there is no physical evidence connecting the defendant to the 10-inch kitchen knife found at the crime scene or the killing, Reinholtsen said.

“We know (Lawson) was killed, we know he was killed by a knife and we know somebody at the party did it, but I don’t think at this point we have sufficient reason to think the defendant did it,” Reinholtsen said.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Update: Names Released in Apparent Murder-Suicide at Caltrans Yard

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 5:23 PM


The Humboldt County Coroner's Office has released the names of those involved in this morning's incident. From the press release, "The deceased male subject in this case has been positively identified as Terry Allan Hayse, age 57 of Rio Dell. The female subject has been positively identified as Annette Kaleialoha Brooks, age 61 of Carlotta."

Gov. Jerry Brown also issued a statement today regarding the death of Brooks, saying,

“The tragic death of this dedicated public servant is a shock to the entire Caltrans family. Anne and I send our deepest sympathies to Annette’s family, friends and her colleagues during this difficult time.”

The flags at the state capital will be flown at half-staff in honor of Brooks.


Two people are dead after an apparent murder-suicide at the Caltrans maintenance yard in Rio Dell this morning. According to the local Caltrans public information office, the employees are believed to belong to a paint crew from District 4, which serves several Bay Area counties.

The names of those involved have not been released, but the California Highway Patrol responded to the maintenance yard on Eeloa Avenue at 7:02 a.m. to find one person dead and another in critical condition. The altercation is believed to have taken place between a male employee and his female supervisor over a workplace dispute. The press release states that the man fired "several rounds at the supervisor, killing her, before turning the handgun on himself."

"News of this tragedy shocks and saddens everyone at Caltrans," said Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty in a statement. "Our thoughts naturally are with the families. The exact details are under investigation and Caltrans is cooperating with law enforcement."

From the California Highway Patrol:

On April 24, 2017 at approx. 0702 hours, Humboldt CHP was notified of a shooting incident with one subject deceased on scene at the Cal-Trans Maintenance Facility in Rio Dell, CA. CHP and Rio Dell PD responded to the scene and found one party deceased and another person in critical condition with a gun shot injury. The injured person was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital, but later died at the hospital.

At this point, investigators believe that an altercation ensued between a Cal-Trans supervisor and another Cal-Trans employee over a work-related issue. The employee retrieved a handgun and fired several rounds at the supervisor, killing her, before turning the handgun on himself.

The investigation is being handled by Humboldt CHP with the assistance of the the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County DA’s Office, and Rio Dell PD. The names of the deceased will be released by the Humboldt County Coroner after the notification of next of kin.

Any inquires regarding this incident should be directed to the Humboldt CHP office.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Community Gathers to Mourn Slain HSU Student

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Lawson's mother is comforted by one of his friends. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Lawson's mother is comforted by one of his friends.
Katauri Thompson, a member of Humboldt State University’s Brothers United and close friend of David Josiah Lawson, asked all of the club’s members to join him on stage during a Thursday vigil for the slain 19 year old. Fighting back tears and holding one another, the group made their way up from the second row and stood around Thompson.

As they looked out at Lawson’s mother, there was a brief moment of silence. “You lost one son that night,” Thompson told her. “But you gained 15 more.”

The packed Humboldt State hall made it clear that Lawson was a friend and leader to many. His family sat in the front row, which faced dozens of flowers and a photo of the college sophomore.

The criminology and justice studies major died in the early morning hours of April 15 after being stabbed during an altercation at a house party in Arcata. Five days later, the Humboldt State University bell echoed throughout the campus as his family, friends, fellow students, faculty and community members filled the Kate Buchanan room to celebrate his life.

Sobs seemed to break out across the entire room as Thompson introduced HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. “It's beautiful that you could all come here,” she said.

Rossbacher noted that everybody in the room was standing on Wiyot land as she introduced Vincent Feliz, who led a group of 10 in a traditional healing song. “This is for the family here,” he said.

They sang a song about the willow that Feliz said represents the strength and endurance of the tree. “I sang that at my own mother’s funeral,” he said.

Corliss Bennett-McBride, director of the Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence and the faculty advisor for Brothers United, stopped to embrace Thompson before relating a story about how she ran into Lawson while out shopping one day.

“Stop by my office and say, ‘Hi,’ because I don’t have any friends,” she recalled telling him. Bennett-McBride said Lawson dropped in to see her at least two times a week that semester.

She also acknowledged that students of color often face struggles and culture shock after moving to this remote corner of California to attend HSU. “I am very familiar with the transitional piece students are experiencing,” Bennett-McBride said.

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman appeared emotional as he stopped to embrace Lawson’s mother  before taking the stage.

“I want you to know,” Chapman said looking at her. “We will have justice for David, it will happen.”

Michelle-Charmaine Lawson was surrounded by her family and members of the Brothers United as she took the microphone at the gathering. “Thank you so much, Humboldt family, for being here and for celebrating my son,” she said fighting back tears. “My baby, my baby.”

Lawson’s childhood pastor, introduced as Pastor Phil, also spoke. He reminded the room that they had gathered together to celebrate a young man’s life.

“It's not about race,” he said. “It’s not about religion. It's about life. This is how I know he [Lawson] got it. I see every mix of race in this room.”

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct Michelle-Charmaine Lawson's name.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Not Guilty Plea Entered in Fatal Stabbing of 19-Year-Old HSU Student

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 5:32 PM

  • Gofundme
  • Lawson
The 23-year-old McKinleyville man accused in the fatal stabbing of Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson pleaded not guilty to murder and a related weapons charge at his arraignment today.

A preliminary hearing for Kyle Christopher Zoellner is set for May 1, District Attorney Maggie Fleming stated in an email to the Journal. His bail is set at $1 million.

HSU President Lisa Rossbacher said in a statement released this afternoon that “we remain focused on supporting our students and doing all we can for Josiah's family.”

“Our University Police are continuing to assist the Arcata Police Department, which is leading the investigation,” the statement reads. “Looking ahead, we will insist that everything 
  • Arcata Police Department
  • Kyle Zoellner
possible will be done to pursue justice for Josiah."

The criminology major was apparently stabbed after a fist fight broke out early Saturday morning at a house party, possibly over a missing cell phone. The university and the Arcata Police Department have made repeated appeals asking everyone who was in attendance to come forward.

Yesterday, the APD specifically urged the sender of an anonymous email with details about the crime to talk with investigators. APD Chief Tom Chapman also said he plans to investigate and address concerns about the timeliness of the emergency response when it is appropriate.

A vigil for Lawson is set for Thursday.

From Humboldt State University:
A celebration of life in remembrance of David Josiah Lawson will be held on Thursday, April 20, at 5 p.m. in the Kate Buchanan Room.

The family of David Josiah Lawson and the HSU community will gather to to remember the life of Lawson, who died Saturday.

Lawson was a sophomore studying criminology at Humboldt State University and had recently been elected president of HSU’s Brothers United. He's remembered by his family for his warm smile and his kindness.

For support: Office of the Dean of Students at 707-826-3504. Counseling & Psychological Services at 707-826-3236. Employee Assistance Program at 707-443-7358.

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Talking Transparency

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 4:04 PM

  • Access Humboldt
Sunshine Week, that celebration of journalistic freedom and the public's right to know, may be well over, but you can keep the spirit going. If you missed Access Humboldt’s March 20 “Transparency and Privacy Roundtable” hosted by Sean McLaughlin and featuring Shahid Buttar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills and the Journal's own news editor Thadeus Greenson, no worries. You can watch it right here. Look at us, sharing footage just like that.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

APD Seeks 'Valuable' Witness to Fatal Stabbing, Releases More Information

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 5:27 PM

  • Gofundme
  • Lawson
The Arcata Police Department is continuing to urge witnesses to Saturday’s fatal stabbing of Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson to come forward and cooperate with the investigation.

“The reality is a 19-year-old young man lost his life and it’s terrible and tragic and horrific and I think if anyone has evidence or information, they have a duty to come forward,” said APD Chief Tom Chapman.

Chapman said his department is especially keen on speaking with whoever sent it an anonymous email today that provide a first-hand account of the stabbing.

“There were some specifics (in the email) that certainly keyed for me that, if it’s legitimate, we need this person to come forward,” Chapman said. “They are a key eye witness and potentially a very valuable piece to this investigation.”

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