Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of evidence found during an investigation into a violent murder.

Dorothy Ulrich. Photo courtesy Shirley Ortega.

It was another grisly day of evidence and testimony in the double-murder trial of Jason Anthony Warren as law enforcement officials described the scene of Dorothy Ulrich’s murder and the prosecution showed bloody photographs of the crime scene. A 47-year-old wife and mother of three, Ulrich was brutally slaughtered in her Hoopa home in the early morning hours of Sept. 27, 2012.

Warren has been charged with that murder, with special allegations of torture and lying in wait. He has also been charged with murdering 40-year-old Suzanne Seemann, having allegedly used a Kia sedan he stole from Ulrich to deliberately plow into Seemann and two friends as they were on a morning run with a dog on Myrtle Ave. later that same morning.

He’s charged with attempted murder in relation to the other two runners. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted he faces life in prison without possibility of parole.

The first witness today, California Highway Patrol officer Eric Nelson, described responding to Ulrich’s double-wide trailer that morning, knocking on the front door repeatedly and getting no response. After about 15 minutes, a concerned neighbor named Tiffany Martin came by, followed shortly by Ulrich’s sister-in-law, Maria Ulrich, who also lived nearby.

As described in previous testimony, the two women tried knocking on the door and calling Ulrich on the phone before finally speaking with her husband, Tim Ulrich, a long-haul trucker who was in New Mexico at the time. Tim Ulrich gave the women permission to break into the trailer. Before they did so, Nelson backed away in his patrol car in case someone inside was avoiding law enforcement, he said.

Nelson then described what he heard roughly three minutes later, when the women succeeded in busting open the front door of the trailer.

“I heard a scream,” he said, “the type of scream you hear in a horror movie … full, unadulterated.”

Later, under cross-examination, Nelson added that he heard Maria Ulrich yell, “Oh my god! Oh my god! She’s dead! She’s dead! She’s dead!”

Nelson said he then quickly exited his vehicle, drew his weapon and, with a tribal officer beside him, went through Dorothy Ulrich’s front door. “I saw a slumped body laying in blood on the threshold of the door,” Nelson testified.

Prosecutor Paul Sequeira then displayed a photo on the large flat-screen TV that has been next to the witness stand throughout the trial. The photo showed a woman lying face-down on the floor, her head and arm mostly covered in blood, with more blood pooled beneath her and splattered in tiny droplets around her body.

Nelson said he checked for vital signs, to no avail. He noticed that the blood had “turned colors” — gone dark, indicating coagulation. “I also noticed brain matter in this whole area,” he said, gesturing at the displayed image.

The tribal officer on scene recognized the body as Dorothy Ulrich, Nelson testified. Nelson called for assistance, and the two officers again drew their weapons to perform a room-by-room search of the trailer. Over the next several hours, officers taped off the scene and began investigating the premises.

Under cross-examination from Warren’s defense attorney, Glenn Brown, Nelson added a few more details. While he was speaking with Ulrich’s neighbor, Tiffany Martin, she mentioned having heard “cussing and yelling” in a female voice earlier that morning, between 3:10 and 3:30 a.m. “It raised my suspicions,” Nelson said.

Next to the stand was Karen Quenell, who was an evidence technician with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office during the time of the murders. She described in great detail her examination of Ulrich’s property, which had a four-camera security system installed. The small flat-screen monitor for that system was inside, in the living room, and Quenell found “apparent blood stains” on it, she said, pointing to tiny droplets visible on a photo of the monitor.

Later in Quenell’s testimony, Sequeira put up an even more graphic photo of Ulrich’s dead body — a close-up of her head that appeared to show a large section of scalp peeled away. From his seat at the defense table, Warren appeared to be avoiding looking at the screen.

Terri Vroman Little, one of the runners allegedly struck by the Warren-driven car, was in the courtroom as well, and she, too, kept her eye on Warren. During a break she agreed that he seemed to be averting his eyes from the graphic photos.

Quenell continued describing the images of apparent blood spatter and locks of hair, several of which appeared to have been “sheared” off. Warren is alleged to have used a samurai sword to murder Ulrich, and Quenell described stab wounds found on Ulrich’s back and cuts in her clothing as well as a smaller sword — evidently partner to the alleged murder weapon — found at the scene.

People attending the hearing, including members of the victims’ families, averted their eyes or left the courtroom during some of the more graphic testimony and photograph displays. 

Sequeira seemed to be anticipating a possible line of defense when he asked Quenell if she’d seen any signs of forced entry, like doors or windows that might have been forced open. Quenell said no, aside from the front door. “All the windows were intact and closed,” she said, adding that one had cobwebs, another was blocked with a blanket thumbtacked to the wall and several others had items stacked in front that likely would have been disturbed if someone had come through from the outside.

A motion-sensor light mounted outside was tested and found to be in working order, Quenell said.

Sure enough, during cross-examination Brown seemed to be searching for room amid the evidence to allow for a hypothetical intruder into Ulrich’s trailer. He questioned Quenell at length about the marking and collecting of evidence. The motion-detector light worked, but did anyone prepare a grid to show how far its range was? Brown asked. Quenell said no, nobody had.

Brown also asked about possible blind spots in the security cameras’ fields of vision and their views at night. He asked if Quenell had actually checked the functionality of the windows to see if they opened, and he even remarked that cobwebs can sometimes be difficult to remove.

The final witness of the day was Gary Woffinden, a man who now works for a security company based in Seattle but who, at the time of the murders, worked for local law enforcement. (He didn’t say which agency.)

Woffinden testified that on the day of Ulrich’s murder, he was tasked with reviewing the security camera footage captured at her home. A monitor was set up in a parking area nearby, with a canopy to block out some of the sun. The defense played a portion of the security footage on the large TV screen, zooming in for a closer look at the footage from the upper-right quadrant of the split screen.

After several minutes where nothing seemed to happen, a figure could be seen quickly moving from left to right across the screen. Afterwards, Sequeira showed a freeze-frame of the figure and asked Woffinden if he had recognized it.

“Yes,” he said. He recognized it as Jason Warren, and he identified Warren as the defendant seated in the courtroom.

Woffinden said he had regular contact with Warren when he was a local law enforcement officer, and when he first saw the figure in the security camera footage he felt 90-95 percent sure it was him. After viewing more footage, Woffinden said, he was 100 percent sure.

In cross-examination, Brown tried to erode the reliability of that “100 percent” assessment. The clothing worn by the figure, including baggy shorts, a jersey-type shirt and a hat, lots of people wear clothes like that, right? And the monitor where you watched the footage was smaller than this one, right? And you reviewed the footage in daylight? Was the video in color?

No, Woffinden said, it was black-and-white. And yes, it was daylight out. And the image was pixilated. Still, he said, he was “able to pull out [Warren’s] facial characteristics.”

With that, the day’s testimony came to a close. The courts will be closed Wednesday in honor of Veteran’s Day. The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.