Both witnesses scheduled to testify this morning against murder suspect Brian John Leiteritz Jr. have been arrested for contempt of court and appeared before Judge Marilyn Miles wearing handcuffs.
Alicia Janette Rose, Leiteritz’s former girlfriend, was booked into jail at 5:27 p.m. Monday after not showing up earlier in the day to testify for the prosecution. Rose, 35, also allegedly tried to smuggle narcotics into Humboldt County Correctional Facility and was booked on that charge along with contempt of court.
This morning Rose conferred with Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo, appointed to advise her, and then asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify.
Now Deputy District Attorney Steven Steward must decide whether to offer Rose immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. That prospect outraged defense attorney Michael Robinson, who believes Rose set up a home-invasion robbery that ended when Leiteritz stabbed Rose’s friend Dylon Liakos to death in self-defense.
“I find that offensive under these circumstances,” Robinson told Miles, saying Rose is “at minimum a co-conspirator” who planned, at the least, to burglarize Leiteritz’s house.
“This is just offensive to my sense of justice,” Robinson said.
Miles reminded him it is completely up to the prosecution to decide whether to offer immunity.
Next up was prosecution witness Terrance Ford, who testified at length Monday but didn’t show up for court this morning. He was arrested before noon on a warrant alleging contempt of court and brought into Miles’ courtroom in cuffs. The judge advised him he might be asked questions that could implicate him in criminal activity. She asked whether he wanted a lawyer.
“I’ve never done anything wrong,” Ford responded. But he accepted Miles’ offer to appoint Deputy Conflict Counsel Meagan O’Connell, who will discuss the case with him and advise him of his rights.
On Monday Ford, 45, testified he gave Liakos a ride to Leiteritz’s home in McKinleyville the night of Aug. 10, but he insisted he had nothing to do with the “weird bullshit” that occurred after Liakos got out of his car and apparently walked to Leiteritz’s house.
When Ford eventually walked there himself to see what was going on, he found Liakos gasping for breath and Leiteritz standing silent in the driveway. Liakos, 30, died later from stab wounds.
Leiteritz had a restraining order against Rose, who reportedly had been harassing and threatening him for months over property she claimed was hers and wanted back. She allegedly texted Leiteritz on Aug. 10 and told him to expect a visit.
Robinson, in a news conference the day Leiteritz was arraigned, said Leiteritz was on the phone with 911 when someone cut power to his house and pounded on his door. When he opened the door he was attacked, he claims, and he responded by using a knife on his assailant.
According to Ford, Liakos went to Leiteritz’s home to be a “knight in shining armor” and retrieve Rose’s disputed property.
Outside of court this morning, Robinson said if Ford decides to assert his Fifth Amendment right, “all his previous testimony will be stricken from the record.”
The hearing was expected to resume at 1:30, with or without testimony from the two jailed witnesses.
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