Monday, December 9, 2019

Three Years After Jennika Lee Suazo Was Found Dead, Her Family Awaits Justice

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 1:29 PM

Three years ago today, 18-year-old Jennika Lee Suazo was found dead in her home on P Street in Eureka. She was last seen on Dec. 8, 2016. After her cause of death was determined to be asphyxia, the Eureka Police Department began investigating her death as a homicide.
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Her mother, Jennie Lee Seipp, said that how hard it is to wait for news of movement in solving her daughter’s death. “It’s coming on [three] years of her horrible passing … still no news from E.P.D. or Department of Justice.”

Eureka Police spokesperson Brittany Powell said Saturday, “We are working with the Department of Justice on forensic and DNA evidence. Once all of the evidence has been evaluated and all results are received, we will follow up with any new leads and present the report to the District Attorney’s Office for review and recommendations.”

Powell said solving Suazo’s homicide has required thorough police work.

“The Eureka Police Department is working diligently to resolve this investigation and bring Jennika’s killer to justice,” she said in a prepared statement. “Working through investigations where there were no eyewitnesses or other immediate identifying suspect information are time-consuming and require a level of thoroughness above and beyond most investigations to ensure a case can be filed and prosecuted in front of a jury.”

The EPD asks anyone with information to contact Senior Detective Cosetti at acosetti@ci.eureka.ca.gov.
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Helicopter Rescue Underway for Injured Forestry Worker in Hoopa

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 12:52 PM

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A Hoopa forestry worker slipped down into a ravine off Big Hill Road and received serious injuries about 9:30 this morning, according to Rod Mendes, chief of Hoopa Fire and Office of Emergency Services. He said the man rolled about 300 feet from where he slipped.

“He is about 2,000 feet down from Big Hill Road,” Mendes said. “He has a serious back injury and is unable to walk.”

The injured man was with another forestry worker and Mendes said, “They were able to call out on radio.”

Because of the remote and rugged area the accident occurred, it took a long time to reach the victim. “It was 45 minutes to hike into him,” Mendes said.

In addition, the terrain means that the helicopter can’t land and the weather is adding to the issues. “Flying into that drainage is really dangerous,” Mendes said. “Getting a helicopter in because of the clouds and the fog is hard.”

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Trump Administration Food Stamp Cuts Will Hit 3,600 in Humboldt

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 9:05 AM

The Trump administration has announced that it will be changing food stamp eligibility requirements, which could cut nutrition assistance to 688,000 Americans, including more than 3,500 in Humboldt County.

On Dec. 4, the administration announced it would be eliminating waivers that allow counties with high unemployment rates to allow able-bodied adults without dependents who work fewer than 80 hours a month to receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for more than three months. Currently, 52 of California’s 58 counties, including Humboldt, have such waivers in place.

FILE
  • File
Nationally, 13 percent of the population receives assistance buying groceries through SNAP.

According to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Humboldt currently has 3,606 residents who receive benefits through the program — administered as CalFresh in California — who would be impacted by the change. They receive anywhere from $16 to $194 a month in benefits, which come in the form of an EBT card that can only be used to purchase food, including fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, grains and other staples.

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Saturday, December 7, 2019

With Covered California Deadline Approaching, Officials Say New Subsidies and Eligibility Requirements Are Available

Posted By on Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 3:32 PM

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  • Thinkstock
If you want to sign up for health insurance through Covered California and enter 2020 insured, you’re running out of time.

The Dec. 15 deadline to sign up in time to start the New Year with coverage is approaching and state officials are reminding California residents without health insurance that they will face a penalty next year. While Congress reduced the penalty for failing to get insured under the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, the California Legislature enacted its own version this year, meaning residents who don’t have health insurance next year could face penalties of up to $695 per person.

But the looming penalties promise to bring more people into the insurance pool, which will reduce costs, said Covered California spokesperson James Scullary. Rates for next year are only going up 0.8 percent statewide, Scullary said, the lowest rate change in the program’s history. And in Humboldt County, he said, the average rate change is a 1.7-percent reduction.

There are also more subsidies available than in previous years, Scullary said, and they are available to a wider swath of customers.

Customers who make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level — which equates to about $49,960 for an individual or $103,000 for a family of four — on average receive subsidies that cover 80 percent of their insurance costs, Scullary said. Further, he said individuals making up to $75,000 and families of four with incomes up to $154,000 are now eligible.

Scullary said he’s heard from lots of people in Humboldt County who assumed they were ineligible for Covered California and/or subsidies because that was the case a couple of years ago.

“We’re really encouraging them to check again because things have changed substantially,” he said. “That could make a big difference in people’s lives.”

To find out if you’re eligible, visit www.coveredcalifornia.com or call (800) 300-1506. Scullary said the website also has a tool that allows people to anonymously enter their zip code, household income and ages of household residents in order to see the assortment of plans available and what federal and state subsidies may be available.

Open enrollment for Covered California extends through Jan. 31, though, again, customers must sign up by Dec. 15 to be insured by Jan. 1. As of March, Scullary said about 5,900 Humboldt County residents were enrolled in the program.
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Friday, December 6, 2019

AG Won't Take Lawson Case

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 3:10 PM

The California Attorney General's Office has informed Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming that it will not be taking responsibility for any possible prosecution related to the 2017 killing of David Josiah Lawson.

David Josiah Lawson - SUBMITTED
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  • David Josiah Lawson
"Absent a reusable conflict of interest, the Attorney General's Office generally only takes over a prosecution handled by a district attorney when there is an abuse of discretion," reads the letter penned by Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Laurence. "The district attorney is given broad discretion in prosecuting criminal cases because she is the official who has been elected by that county to act as its public prosecutor. Based on our internal review of the case, we could not find evidence that you abused your discretion in how you handled the prosecution of this case."

Fleming reached out to the Attorney General's Office back in April, just weeks after a criminal grand jury convened to look at evidence in the Humboldt State University sophomore's killing declined to indict anyone in the case. In her request, Fleming maintained that her office had "made the right decisions and taken appropriate actions at ever step" in the case but was asking for the AG's intervention because public perception of her office's handling of the case had been "influenced by misinformation in the public arena from people with legal or law enforcement backgrounds who have been involved with the case."

Lawson was fatally stabbed around 3 a.m. on April 15, 2017, at an off-campus party. A then 23-year-old McKinleyville man, Kyle Zoellner, was arrested at the scene and charged with Lawson's murder but a Humboldt County Superior Court judge ruled weeks later there was insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial and dismissed the case. Zoellner was also the focus of the criminal grand jury convened in February but the jury, in an outcome legal experts deemed rare, declined to hand up an indictment in the case.

Protests followed the grand jury's decision, with some — including Lawson's mother, Charmaine Lawson — publicly calling for Fleming's recall and pleading with the Attorney General's Office to intercede in the case.

The case — currently Arcata's only unsolved homicide — remains under investigation, with Charmaine Lawson and Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn having recently recorded a PSA pleading for witnesses to come forward.

In the letter, Laurence notes the office is "deeply saddened" by Lawson's "tragic death" and offers condolences to the Lawson family and the local community.

"We mourn the tragic loss of Mr. Lawsons' life," the letter states. "However, we could not find evidence that calls for the Department of Justice's intervention in the case, and will not be taking any further action in this matter."

See the full press release from the District Attorney's Office copied below. Fleming's letter to the AG can be found here, with the AG's reply here.


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Thursday, December 5, 2019

UPDATE: CHP Releases Name of Santa Rosa Man Killed in 101 Crash Near Miranda

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 12:10 PM

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UPDATE:

The California Highway Patrol today released the name of the Santa Rosa man killed Nov. 27 in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 101 near Salmon Creek Road that also injured two others.

According to a release, John Bare, 59, was driving a BMX SUV when he lost control of the vehicle amid winter weather conditions. His passenger sustained major injuries and the driver of the other vehicle suffered moderate injures in the collision.

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A man was killed and his passenger severely injured just before 1 p.m. today after the driver lost control of his vehicle for unknown reasons near Salmon Creek Road on U.S. Highway 101 and drove into the path of a Ford Excursion traveling in the opposite direction.

According to the CHP, the driver, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene and the passenger “sustained major injuries.” The driver of the Excursion suffered “minor to moderate injuries,” a release states.

U.S. Highway 101 near Miranda was closed for almost two hours during “the collision investigation and recovery of the vehicles,” according to the release. During that time, southbound and northbound traffic was diverted onto State Route 254.

The California Highway Patrol reports there was “heavy rainfall and hail” on that section of the roadway at the time of the head-on crash, which was immediately followed by “two separate non-injury collisions” in the same area.

Read the release from the CHP below:

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

HSU Student Killed in Holiday Weekend Crash

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 7:25 PM

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A 19-year-old Humboldt State student was killed Nov. 30 when the 1996 Honda Civic he was driving westbound on State Route 20 in the Clearlake area lost traction on the wet roadway.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the car crossed over the double yellow lines and into the eastbound lane, colliding head on with a Toyota pickup driven by Nina Watanabe, a 65-year-old Elk Grove woman heading eastbound. Watanabe and her passenger received major injuries.

The student, Kenneth Xiong, who was from Stockton, was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a letter from Humboldt State University to the campus community today, Xiong, a sophomore, was “pursuing his degree in Fisheries Biology.”

HSU is offering to help students grieving Xiong’s death. The letter suggested several numbers to call, including Counseling & Psychological Services at 826-3236.

Read the CHP release (prior to Xiong’s name being released) below:


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APD: Driver Sought in Suspected 'Intentional Assault' for Hitting Victim with Car

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 3:59 PM

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The Arcata Police Department is searching for a driver who is believed to have been intentionally struck another man with a vehicle around 2:30 p.m. today in a case of assault with a deadly weapon, Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn said.

The victim was driving his vehicle with his adult son in the car when he believed he was cut off by a driver in another vehicle, Ahearn said. The victim followed the suspect vehicle to southbound H Street where it crossed over Samoa before stopping.

“The victim got out his car to get the suspect vehicle’s license plate,” Ahearn said. “The suspect sped toward the victim striking the victim who then rolled up on the hood of the suspect vehicle and rolled off the vehicle.”

Ahearn said the victim had moderate injuries. that were non-life-threatening. He was transported while conscious and alert to Mad River Community Hospital.

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3.8 Earthquake Strikes Redway

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 12:24 PM

ShakeMap of the 3.8 earthquake in Redway - USGS
  • USGS
  • ShakeMap of the 3.8 earthquake in Redway
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude 3.8 earthquake that struck Redway at 11:40 a.m., close to the Garberville-Briceland fault zone.

According to the USGS "Did You Feel It?" Community Internet Intensity Map, the earthquake was lightly felt in Myers Flat, Whitethorn and even in Petrolia.

The late morning quake hit at a depth of 13.6 miles.
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Lone Swan Graces Benbow

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 11:03 AM

The swan at Benbow. - TALIA ROSE
  • Talia Rose
  • The swan at Benbow.
A lone swan is swimming on the Eel River at Benbow.
Though swans are not unknown in the area, it is somewhat rare to see one in Southern Humboldt. The swans breed and raise their young in Arctic areas at the tip of the North American continent. Then they migrate south to winter on estuaries found along the coast of California and on the rice fields and wild wetlands in the Central Valley.
TALIA ROSE
  • Talia Rose
This single bird though has drifted down to float like a solitary snowflake on the
Eel River near the Benbow Inn. Local wildlife photographer Talia Rose was also able to capture some shots of the graceful bird, saying on her Facebook page County Line Wild that the swan had been at the location for a few days.

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