Sixteen-year-old murder suspect Logan Brewer Hearst will be tried in Juvenile Court, Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis ruled today.
Elvine-Kreis denied the district attorney’s petition to have the Manila teen’s case moved to adult court, where if convicted of murdering 18-year-old Taevonne Latimer he could have been sentenced to life in prison. Instead, if convicted in Juvenile Court, the maximum penalty would be confinement in a Department of Juvenile Justice facility until he is 25.
Under state law, the judge had to consider five factors before making his decision. He ruled the prosecution had met its burden on only one factor: the gravity of the offense.
“Mr. Brewer Hearst brought a gun to a drug deal,” Elvine-Kreis said. “He killed one person. He shot another one.”
But the judge noted that evidence presented during the hearing indicated “three to four” people may have intended to rob Brewer Hearst the night of the killing.
“Tae” Latimer’s family and friends in the courtroom didn’t react when the judge issued his ruling. But outside the courthouse, Latimer’s grandmother stood there sobbing.
“God will handle (Brewer Hearst)” Debra Thompson said, tears streaming down her face. “God will handle it. I know God will handle it.”
Brewer Hearst is charged with killing Latimer, who was shot three times in the back; and with shooting and wounding Latimer’s cousin Daylyn Prudhomme, also 18.
Prudhomme testified during the hearing that on the night of May 26, he and Latimer rode with “J,” a minor, who had set up a drug transaction in Arcata. On the way, Prudhomme said, “J” said he might just “jug” the dealer, meaning steal the drugs.
Brewer Hearst, a self-admitted drug seller, met the three at a bus stop in Arcata. According to Prudhomme, he and Latimer were sitting on the bus stop bench when “J” began punching Brewer Hearst in the face. Prudhomme said he pushed Brewer Hearst to the ground, then saw him reach in his waistband for a gun.
Brewer Hearst fired at the three as they ran, Prudhomme said. He was struck in the thigh. Latimer died shortly afterward from his injuries.
In addition to the seriousness of the crime, Elvine-Kreis also considered Brewer Hearst’s prior criminal history, whether he’s a candidate for rehabilitation, whether there have been previous attempts to rehabilitate him and whether he displayed “criminal sophistication.”
Brewer Hearst has no previous criminal history. His only offense was committing vandalism in Arcata, and that case was considered too minor to be referred to the district attorney for charging. Therefore there have been no attempts to rehabilitate him.
When evaluated by Dr. Andrew Renouf, a defense-hired psychologist, Brewer Hearst said he had been selling a wide variety of drugs for at least two years.
Although the teen “self-reported” that he was a major drug dealer, the judge said there appears to be no evidence for that claim.
“No fancy cars, no nice apartment,” Elvine-Kreis said. … “The court can’t take lack of evidence as evidence.”
The judge said Brewer Hearst, barely 16 when the crime was committed, “appears to be a poster child” for rehabilitation. In Juvenile Hall Brewer Hearst is excelling in school and is generally “at the highest level” possible in the facility.
“It looks like he’s on a path to rehabilitation,” Elvine-Kreis said.
Brewer Hearst will now be tried in Juvenile Court, where a trial is called a “jurisdictional hearing.”
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Watson told the judge she expects the hearing to last “eight full days.”
The next hearing in the case will be Dec. 3, when a date for the jurisdictional hearing may be set. Because the teen is charged with murder, the hearing will be open to the public.
Brewer Hearst is represented by appointed attorney David Nims.
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In other court news, jurors in the trial of Arcata rancher Ray Christie got the day off today as the defense prepares to begin presenting its case tomorrow.
Judge Christopher Wilson said the trial is “ahead of schedule” and may end earlier than expected. The trial will also be in recess all of next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Christie, 56, is charged with four felony counts of animal cruelty and 39 misdemeanor counts of littering (dead cows) within 150 feet of state waters.
Law enforcement, during a massive raid in March 2018, discovered numerous cattle carcasses and also live animals that appeared to be starving.
Defense attorney John Cogorno has suggested the suffering and dead animals could have eaten poisonous plants, been attacked by wild animals or wandered onto Christie’s properties from neighboring pastures.