About 50 people, most of them friends and family of Trevor John Earley and many of them openly weeping, were in court this afternoon to watch the arraignment of the man charged with shooting Earley in the head.


Judge Christopher Wilson arraigned Garberville resident Jake Henry Combs on one count of murder with the special allegation of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm. Wilson granted Deputy District Attorney Shelly Small’s request to order Combs, 29, held without bail.

Small told the judge Combs, carrying a 9mm Glock handgun, “walked up behind (Earley), put the gun to his temple and fired.”

Afterward, Small said, Combs “was thinking about fleeing to Mexico and also thinking about getting rid of the firearm by throwing it in the river.”

Wilson, reading from a report, added that after being read his Miranda rights Combs “admitted he shot the victim in the head.”

Earley, who just turned 25, was shot in a residence on Sixth Street in Alderpoint. California Highway Patrol officers arrested Combs shortly afterward when he wrecked the car he was driving on Highway 36.

Today Wilson appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Combs. Deputy Public Defender David Celli entered not guilty pleas on his behalf, and the preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 20.

According to online records, Earley attended Ferndale High School and played for the football team. He turned 25 on Dec. 11, one woman who attended the hearing said today.

Another member of the crowd, a man, said “we had just started hanging out with (Combs) about three weeks or a month ago.”

Because of the size of the crowd jamming the courthouse hallway and courtroom, three extra bailiffs were assigned to Wilson’s court. But those in the audience were silent, except for the crying.

Earley’s death is the first alleged homicide in Humboldt County in 2022.

Combs was in the jury box today with several other inmates. He was handcuffed and wearing the traditional orange jumpsuit and the now-traditional face mask.


CORRECTION: Because of an editor’s error, this story originally misstated victim Trevor John Early’s age. It has been corrected.