One On One With Allan Dollison

Cliff Berkowitz / Tuesday, April 22 @ 7:57 a.m. / Politics

This morning I spoke one on one with DA candidate Allan Dollison for about 15 minutes. We discussed his qualifications and priorities. I also gave him a chance to explain his 16 counts of misconduct and falsifying court documents. 

(AUDIO) Allan Dollison on KHUM



Fund Started for Crash Victim’s Young Family

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 22 @ 7:05 a.m. / Community

Tommy Ruiz, the victim in this weekend’s fatal crash on Broadway, left behind a wife and two children. His employer, Mickey’s Quality Cars, has started a fundraising account to help the young family.

The goal is to gather $5000 to ease the burden on Ruiz’s young widow and two small sons. Just a little donation from many of our readers could go a long way to assist the family. 

We’ve seen some amazing community efforts here on the LoCO. People have pulled together and started cleanups of littered areas, found stolen items as well as helped victims of various personal disasters. 

The money raised for the young family so far is $1675. In the name of the two boys who will grow up without a father, could we double that today, LoCO? 

If you’d like to help, it doesn’t take much—just a couple of minutes to fill out the form and whatever small gift  you feel comfortable making. If everyone who read this just donated a dollar, we’d reach our goal in under an hour. 

Click this link to begin helping the two young boys and their mother.

DA Candidates Trade Jabs at Latest Debate

Ryan Burns / Monday, April 21 @ 5:48 p.m. / Politics

In a rapid-fire debate this afternoon, Humboldt County’s four district attorney candidates took turns addressing complex issues in one-minute sound bites, and they found time to take a few swipes at each other. 

The 45-minute debate, which was hosted by Eureka Rotary Club and moderated by the League of Women Voters, touched on some of the usual hot-button topics, including marijuana legalization, homelessness, public safety realignment and campaign donations. And while the differences between candidates were often more about style than substance, there was a distinct feistiness in the air, with candidates looking to poke at each other’s perceived weak spots.

For example, Deputy District Attorney Élan Firpo and former Deputy DA/current County Counsel attorney Maggie Fleming traded a few rhetorical elbows over their respective résumés. During her opening statement, Firpo touted “20 years of experience relevant to being the district attorney” and specifically mentioned her prior career as an executive in the high-tech industry, where she said she engineered products and managed employees all over the world. That type of experience, Firpo said, “is not a thing you learn in law school, and it’s certainly not a thing you pick up in the courtroom.”

Fleming shot back during her own opening remarks by outlining her courtroom experience, which she said involved trying “every imaginable case” and holding various leadership positions at the Contra Costa and Humboldt County DA’s offices. “So my experience of over 25 years and over 120 jury trials is both relevant and pertinent to what we need moving forward in this county,” Fleming said.

The debate questions were generated by audience members, and an early one seemed specifically crafted to benefit Firpo. It asked each candidate to name the largest number of employees he or she had complete authority over. Arnie Klein, Alan Dollison and Fleming (all former deputy DAs) referred to various oversight positions they’ve held, and Dollison mentioned his experience as an Army officer. Firpo again mentioned her high-tech job, saying she was responsible for hiring and managing as many as 50 employees while ramping up production in a Malaysian factory.

This sub-debate about experience culminated during closing remarks as Fleming again challenged Firpo, albeit indirectly. How, Fleming asked, is “being the manager for an overseas company that produces an item” relevant to “working in a small county where you have to have a collaborative team of prosecutors that handle crime?” And she challenged Firpo to name the companies she worked for, the dates of employment, her job duties and titles and her reasons for leaving.

Firpo took the microphone next and gave a few answers to what she called Fleming’s “attack” on her. She designed magnetic recording heads for computer hard drives, “which are practically like cassette tapes at this point,” she said. Firpo asserted that the experience was relevant because it showed she can manage a large group of employees.

(One quick note: For more on all candidates’ backgrounds, check their answers to reader questions in LoCO Elections.)

Klein, for his part, seems to have an arsenal of folksy aphorisms at his disposal, and he deployed a few this afternoon. “If wishes were horses, beggars would be riders,” he said by way of explaining the limited resources for the DA’s office. Regarding his ambitions for the office he quipped, “I’m not going there to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.” And regarding the viability of the four candidates he said, “At this table there are no dead fish.”

Klein also aimed a few barbs at his fellow candidates. After several mentioned serving as assistant district attorney, Klein chimed in, “I also was the ADA of Humboldt County. They pass that out like they would candy.”

And he wrapped up his closing remarks with another curious metaphor: “Just because you have managed a soccer team doesn’t make you a head coach in the NFL.”

Dollison also went after Fleming by pointing out a few areas of disagreement. Namely, he has called for boosting the number of deputy district attorneys to more than 20, saying he’ll go after grants to fund their salaries. And he categorically opposes the county’s current late-night jail release policies, while Fleming has said there are legal barriers to holding every offender overnight.

All candidates agreed that marijuana legalization is just a matter of time and that law enforcement should focus on large-scale grow operations, violent criminal activity and related environmental crimes. Dollison took the hardest line against marijuana, referencing a recent study linking pot use with brain changes and saying weed “introduces youths to drug culture.” Firpo called for “vertical prosecution,” that is, assigning a dedicated prosecutor to see through all stages of marijuana prosecutions. And Fleming said she’d prefer statewide legalization to a county-by-county legal patchwork, as with Prop. 215.

Asked what is the biggest problem in Humboldt County within the DA’s purview, Dollison said it’s the “explosion of crime in Eureka.” Fleming cited drug addiction and its connection to crime. Klein said it’s public safety, and he espoused a desire to “take back our community.” And Firpo said mental health problems — and self-medicating through drugs — are at the root of many local problems.

Asked what they’d change in the DA’s office, the candidates each offered ideas for improvement. Dollison suggested that the office has been mismanaged financially and promised to seek grant opportunities and prepare budgets for the Board of Supervisors (something he said hasn’t been done the last two years). Fleming said that the office needs more oversight because young, relatively inexperienced prosecutors are being given “carte blanche” to make plea bargains. Firpo said she’d institute vertical prosecution in a variety of areas, including marijuana cases, environmental cases and domestic abuse cases. And Klein suggested deputizing office employees as civil servants so they could resolve disputes in far-flung communities, outside of the formal courtroom setting.

Want to follow up with the candidates themselves? Ask them a question (or see if they’ve already answered it) over at LoCO Elections.

Southern Humboldt Homicide Story Clarified by HCSO

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 21 @ 3:30 p.m. / Crime

According to Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, somewhere between Wednesday night and Thursday morning of last week, Zachary Jacob Chapman, age 36, is believed to have died as a result of a gunshot wound. His body was dumped in or near the Eel River near Tooby Park and a trailer in the Connick Creek area west of Garberville was set on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Benjamin Jasper Carter, age 33, is a suspect in Chapman’s homicide. His wife, Melinda Elaine Carter, age 41, (see photo right) was arrested at the Brass Rail in Redway on Friday for assisting in the cleanup after the homicide including moving the victim’s vehicle (among other charges. See press release below.)  The vehicle was subsequently found still running beside the road. Another woman was briefly detained but not arrested.

The trailer fire is being investigated for evidence by the Humboldt County Arson Task Force and the California Department of Justice.

A CHP helicopter searched along the Eel River on Saturday attempting to locate the body of Chapman but, according to Hanson, “unfortunately, a citizen found [it]” in the water near the riverbank. The Coroner’s office will do an autopsy later this week.

The Sheriff’s Department received credible information that the GMC pickup used by the suspect Benjamin Carter could be found in the Twin Trees area south of Garberville. On Saturday, they searched a property there but did not locate it. Eventually, the Fortuna Police Department found the truck near School and Boone Streets in Fortuna.

If the suspect, Benjamin Carter (see photo right) is seen, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to immediately call 911 and stay away as he may be armed and is considered dangerous.  If anyone has information on this homicide they are encouraged to call Investigator Cheryl Franco at 707-268-3644 or the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251.  


 Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept. Press Release:

On 04-18-2014 at about 10:30pm, Humboldt County Sheriff Office Detectives arrested Melinda Elaine Carter age 41 for conspiracy and accessory to a homicide, auto theft and arson. Melinda Carter was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility in Eureka where her bail was set at $750,000 dollars. Detectives located Melinda Carter in a motel room at the Brass Rail Motel in Redway where they had served a search warrant related to the homicide investigation. Melinda Carter is the wife of the suspect, Benjamin Jasper Carter age 33, who has not been arrested yet in connection of the homicide. 

On 04-19-2014 at about 12:30pm, a citizen dialed 9-1-1 after locating a deceased male body just off Kimtu Road, Garberville. The body was in the water near the river bank. Sheriff’s Office Detectives, who were in the area immediately responded to the scene. Sheriff’s Offices Detectives assisted by the California Department of Justice processed the crime scene. The Humboldt County Coroner Office responded to the scene to take possession of the body. 

The male victim was identified by the Coroner’s Office as Zackery Jacob Chapman age 36 from Redway. Chapman appears to have died from the result of a gunshot wound. An Autopsy is scheduled for later this week. 

On 04-19-2014 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office along with Humboldt County Arson Task Force and the California Department of Justice processed the homicide scene, which was located on a piece of property off Conic Creek, Garberville. A trailer on the property had been burned down after the homicide in an attempt to conceal evidence where the homicide occurred. 

The Sheriff’s Office is advising the public if they see the suspect Benjamin Jasper Carter to immediately contact law enforcement and do not approach Carter, who is considered armed and dangerous. They are being advised to dial 9-1-1. 

If anyone has information on this homicide they are encouraged to call Investigator Cheryl Franco at 707-268-3644 or the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251.  

Man Arrested at St. Joseph’s Saturday/Airsoft Gun Found

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 21 @ 12:47 p.m. / Crime

Dustin King and the airsoft gun found. [Photos provided courtesy of the EPD]

On Saturday evening, Eureka Police Officers and a K9 companion arrested a man in the cafeteria of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Earlier that afternoon, law enforcement officers received word that a Dustin King, out on Post Release Community Supervision, had been seen in McKinleyville with a handgun. This lead to his release being revoked, a warrant being issued and information asking that he be picked up sent to all local law enforcement agencies.

According to Sgt. Steve Watson of the EPD, information was soon received that King was at St. Joseph’s Hospital visiting a relative. Due to the information that King had a handgun, multiple officers were sent to arrest him. Watson stated that the “overwhelming numbers” of officers sent contributed to King being taken into custody without incident.

Later, an airsoft gun painted black was located in a room at the hospital where one of King’s relatives was hospitalized. 

Be On the Lookout: Bike Taken in Eureka

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 21 @ 12:27 p.m. / Crime

Here’s the latest post in our “Be On the Lookout” series, where we highlight stolen items and ask you, our readers, to help your neighbors by passing on any helpful information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

On Saturday, the bike pictured below was stolen in from Pine Street in Eureka. According to Eureka Police Sgt. Steve Watson, a lock was cut on a detached shed and the bike (see photo below) as well as a weed eater was taken.

If you see it or have any information, call the Eureka Police Department at (707) 441-4060 or contact your local law enforcement agency.

Previous BOLO:

Sleeping Homeowner Awakens to Thieves Taking TV

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 21 @ 11:55 a.m. / Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 04-20-2014, at approximately 4:25 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a residential burglary which just occurred in the 2400 block of Cypress Avenue, Eureka. Deputies responded to the residence and met with the victims. The 57 year old male victim told the investigating deputies he and his 77 year old mother were asleep in his home when the man saw flashlights in the hallway. He thought his mother had awakened so he asked her if everything was O.K. the victim got up and walked down the hallway and saw his front door was open. The victim then saw his flat screen television was missing from the living room. He looked outside his home and saw two males wearing dark clothing attempting to put his television in the rear of a vehicle. The vehicle was parked on the north corner of Cypress and Cedar Street, Eureka. He witnessed the two males put his television into the rear seat of their car and drive away. He could only describe the car as a dark colored two door sedan.

The victim searched his home after calling the Sheriff’s Office and saw nothing else was missing. Investigating deputies could not find any signs of forced entry. The deputies saw where the television had been and items were knocked over as if the suspects left in a hurry with the television. The victim told the deputies the front door must have accidentally been left unlocked. 

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