Rhonda Parker / @ 3:14 p.m. / Courts

COURT ROUNDUP: Two Murder Cases, One Serial Armed Robbery Case All Pushed Back, for Various Reasons


As attorneys bow out and new evidence trickles in, postponements were granted today in three major Humboldt County criminal cases.

Judge Joyce Hinrichs approved continuances in two murder cases and one string-of-armed-robberies matter. Trials or preliminary hearings had been imminent in all.

Christian James Shepard, accused of holding up a slew of local gas stations, motels and markets, is now set for a preliminary hearing on Valentine’s Day. Acting Public Defender Greg Elvine-Kreis told Hinrichs the delay was needed “based on new discovery we received yesterday, and further investigation by our office.”

Shepard, 26, looks much healthier now than he did when arrested Nov. 20 after a frigid night of hiding in the woods. He allegedly committed the armed robberies over a two-week period in November

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A new attorney was appointed today for Lorence Emmanuel Bailey, charged with stabbing Hoopa resident Cheryl Bussell to death the day after Thanksgiving. David Celli is now representing Bailey because the Public Defender’s Office has declared a conflict. Celli now has to get up to speed in the case. A Feb. 6 hearing is scheduled to discuss future court dates for Bailey, 23.

The 50-year-old Bussell was a mother of five and grandmother of three. She was found Nov. 25 in a residence on Lower Cal Pak Road in Hoopa, stabbed multiple times and dying.

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Celli’s office also is now representing Mario Nunez, one of four reputed gang members accused of murdering 14-year-old Jesus Romero Garcia in 2014. And attorney Joseph Judge accepted an appointment to defend Joe Daniel Olivo Jr. Other defendants in the case are his son Joe Daniel Olivo III and Nicholas Leigl.

Garcia was stabbed in a Eureka apartment the night of Dec. 16, 2014. He was found the next morning, barely alive, on a rain-drenched lawn a few blocks away.

Olivo III, the alleged stabber, is only 19 and still looks young and wholesome. He and Nunez, his shaved scalp one large tattoo, appeared delighted to see each other in the courtroom. They smiled and chatted happily while court was not in session.

As Nunez left to be taken back to his jail cell, he tried to shake hands with Olivo III’s father, Olivo Jr. It was an awkward attempt as both were in handcuffs. All three defendants also wore leg shackles.

The next hearing to discuss trial dates is set for Jan. 26.

Leigl , who has a separate case, was not in court today. He has been charged three times with Garcia’s murder. One visiting judge dismissed his murder charge in October. It was refiled. A second visiting judge recently declined to hold him to answer but instead suggested a charge of accessory after the fact.

Leigl is scheduled for his third arraignment Friday.

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