Photo: Andrew Goff.


Arcata rancher Ray Christie’s second trial on animal cruelty charges has been scheduled for August.

This morning Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis, after denying a defense motion to exclude most of the prosecution’s trial evidence, set Aug. 1 as the date for the new trial. Including jury selection, the trial is expected to last about five weeks.

Christie himself is scheduled for cancer surgery later this month and will then undergo follow-up treatment.

Defense attorney Rick Richmond wanted the judge to withhold photographs, all shown during Christie’s first trial, of the large pile of cattle carcasses found on his Arcata Bottoms ranch. Some carcasses were also found on other property Christie owns or leases for grazing cattle.

Judge Christopher Wilson had already ruled the photos could be used as evidence, and this morning Elvine-Kreis said he agreed.

“All the misdemeanor photos can come in,” the judge said, referring to Christie’s misdemeanor convictions on dumping cattle carcasses near state waters. The jury in the first trial, held in late 2019, convicted Christie of more than 20 counts of littering. But the jury deadlocked 11-1 on four felony counts of animal cruelty. Just one juror voted to acquit.

Deputy District Attorney Steven Steward and Deputy District Attorney David Moutrie will be the trial prosecutors. Steward argued the carcass photos are valid evidence because they provide context for the animal cruelty charges.

During the first trial the prosecutor was former Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada, now a deputy public defender who is campaigning to be district attorney. Richmond’s latest motion included attacks on Kamada, even quoting Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees’s recent letter criticizing him. The letter was published by blogger John Chiv.

Elvine-Kreis said this case is becoming too personal and too political, and he’d like that to stop.

“I want to dial this back,” the judge said. “No more personal attacks on anybody.”

He called it all “layers of nonsense.”

“It means nothing to me,” said Elvine-Kreis, who is often the target of Chiv’s criticism.

Another personal attack occurred during a recent hearing when Richmond appeared via Zoom. He accused Steward, a candidate for judge, of being more interested in his campaign than in dealing with the “nasty realities” of the latest defense motion.

Although Elvine-Kreis ruled against the defense as to the carcass photos, he did exclude two potential prosecution trial exhibits: one was a map of where carcasses were found, and another of a single carcass.

Steward said outside the courtroom it’s not clear whether that photo relates to one of the misdemeanor convictions. The jury deadlocked on a few of those counts.

Elvine-Kreis also noted that some issues raised by the defense should be decided “by a jury, not a judge.”

“We’re not going to have a court trial here in this court and then a jury trial,” he said.

Charges were filed against Christie in June 2018, three months after a multi-agency raid on his properties.



In other court news, Shasta County is not interested in prosecuting a Humboldt County woman who says she didn’t realize until she reached Redding that her son was suspected of a triple murder.

The Shasta County district attorney has ceded its jurisdiction over Melissa Sanchez-Johnson, who was driving behind her son Mauricio Johnson as he fled east after the killings. Sanchez-Johnson says she checked her cellphone at a gas station in Redding and got the message about the murders.

“My client is willing to accept responsibility but she doesn’t want to lie,” defense attorney Kathleen Bryson told Judge Christopher Wilson this morning. Bryson said she knew “something had happened” but didn’t know what.

Both Sanchez-Johnson and her former boyfriend Von Keener are expected to plead guilty to being an accessory after the fact. Keener was in the car with Mauricio Johnson when he was arrested in Utah.

The next hearing is set for June 16.