Exonerated of Murder but Jailed Since 2015, Blue Lake Man Accepts Eight-Year Sentence for Vandalism, Drug Crimes

Rhonda Parker / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 2:38 p.m. / Courts

A Blue Lake man acquitted of a pot-related murder in Arcata was sentenced today to eight years in state prison for vandalism and drug crimes.

Huntzinger.

Robert “Bob” Louis Huntzinger, 36, will actually serve about three years because he’s been in Humboldt County Correctional Facility since mid-May of 2015. With that time and “good time”  figured in, he was given credit for 1,821 days, just a few days shy of five years.

Defense attorney Russ Clanton told Judge Christopher Wilson this morning that Huntzinger has had plenty of time to reflect on his “sad history” of drug addiction. Clanton said Huntzinger will use his prison time to become “the person he set out to be: an educated, insightful, contributing member of society.”

Under his agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, Huntzinger was sentenced to four years in prison for felony vandalism of a laundromat. That conviction is a strike under the state’s “Three Strikes You’re Out” law, so the sentence was doubled to eight years. A three-year sentence for possessing drugs for sale will run concurrently.

Six months ago a jury acquitted Huntzinger of murder and burglary in the May 2015 shooting death of Trevor Mark Harrison during a marijuana deal at Harrison’s mother’s home. Co-defendant Billy Joe Giddings, the shooter, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 52 years to life.

Today Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees, who prosecuted Giddings and Huntzinger in the murder case, told the judge Huntzinger’s past is about more than drug abuse.

“He’s gotten here because of his conduct,” Rees said. “To blame it all on drug addiction is not fair.”

Nevertheless, Rees said, “I wish him the best” on his plan to change his life.

Wilson agreed Huntzinger has a “sad history,” but reminded him he was “packing a substantial amount of heroin and other controlled substances” when arrested on the drug charge.

“It’s not a victimless crime,” Wilson said, noting that the people who buy drugs from dealers tend to then victimize other people.

As for Huntzinger’s damaging the laundromat, the judge said he was probably after more money to finance his drug habit.

Huntzinger holds the record for the longest-serving inmate currently in Humboldt County Correctional Facility. Only one other inmate, murder suspect Melissa Jean “Missy” Munsell, has been in the facility since 2015. Munsell was arrested two days after Huntzinger for an alleged DUI-related crash that killed her passenger.


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FODE FLIPS! Manila Murder Suspect Agrees to Testify Against Alleged Accomplice in Claros Killing

Rhonda Parker / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 1:02 p.m. / Courts

L to R: Mitchell, Fode, Thomson, Valenzuela-Campos

One of five suspects in a December 2016 murder and carjacking has agreed to testify for the prosecution.

Catherine Suzanne Lynn “Catie” Fode will be a witness against 24-year-old Cesar Octavio Valenzuela-Campos, his attorney said during a hearing this morning to discuss Valenzuela-Campos’ trial schedule.

Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo told Judge Christopher Wilson he had received a copy of a two-hour statement from Fode, “who is now a prosecution witness.”

“That changes things dramatically,” Russo said. Attorneys declined to comment further, so it’s not clear whether Fode, 19, will also testify against co-defendants Brandon James Mitchell, 23, and Tamara Nicole Thomson, 19. It’s also unknown what Fode will receive in exchange for her testimony.

This morning Wilson granted Russo’s motion for a continuance in Valenzuela-Campos’ trial, which had been set to start shortly.

“(Fode’s) statement obviously changes the complexion of the matter,” Wilson said. “I don’t know how much.”

Attorneys will be back in court Nov. 29 to discuss a new trial date.

Godoy-Standley

A fifth defendant, Fode’s boyfriend Hector Godoy-Standley, 22, has been diagnosed as developmentally disabled and is expected to be sent to a state hospital next month. He remains in custody in the meantime.

All five are charged with the murder of 20-year-old Tyson Eduardo Claros, who was shot to death during a carjacking near Manila. Mitchell, the alleged shooter, reportedly believed Claros had molested he and Fode’s 3-year-old daughter. Claros was investigated but never charged.

Thomson, 19, was in the backseat of the car Claros was riding in when she allegedly pulled a gun and demanded that the driver pull over. Then Godoy-Standley, Valenzuela-Campos, Fode and Mitchell arrived in another vehicle and jumped out, all allegedly packing guns. After Claros was shot several times and left to die, Thomson and Valenzuela-Campos reportedly drove off in Claros’ friend’s car, leaving her behind as the sole eyewitness. The other three suspects left in Godoy-Standley’s vehicle.

Claros

Claros had introduced the eyewitness to Thomson, and she was able to identify her on Facebook. Thomson and Valenzuela were arrested quickly and made statements implicating themselves and the other three.

As of now Valenzuela-Campos is being tried alone, as is Thomson. Fode and Mitchell are scheduled for trial together. That will most likely change once Fode’s deal with the prosecution is finalized.

Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Schaffer declined to discuss the case outside court. Fode’s attorney Neal Sanders, reached by phone, also said he could not comment.

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(VIDEO) SURPRISE! Security Cameras Catch Numerous A-Holes Stealing Amazon Boxes in McKinleyville … but the Packages are Filled With Yard Clippings

John Ross Ferrara / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 11:59 a.m. / Our Culture

Doorstep package delivery-snatching is one of the more hateable forms of petty theft modern humans face in this brave new world.

These opportunistic thieves, commonly referred to as “porch pirates,” charge the doorsteps of unsuspecting people and swipe deliveries right off their welcome mats.

In response to this sidewalk thievery, McKinleyville man Mark Terrill decided to get a little revenge by setting up phony packages and letting his security cameras roll.

In the security camera footage above, Terrill records several strangers wandering onto his property and taking the Amazon boxes. But while these would-be package snatchers think they’re making off with a plunder of internet goodies, they’re actually running away with boxes of fresh yard clippings.

D’oh!

As an added bonus at the end of the video, Terrill also captures a couple of super-chill bros stealing a whole bowl full of Halloween candy before being chased off his porch.



ELECTION RESULTS! College of the Redwoods Challengers Cruising to Easy Victory; Rio Dell Pot Tax Passes; Blue Lake Fire Tax Shot Down

Hank Sims / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 8:45 a.m. / Elections

College of the Redwoods’ Board of Trustees looks to get some fresh blood soon, after two long-time incumbents lost decisively at the polls yesterday.

Challengers Bonnie Deister and Dan Kelley, who campaigned heavily on the need for reform,  each ended up with just over 56 percent of votes counted in their respective districts last night. The longtime incumbents they challenged — Tracy Coppini and Thomas Ross, respectively — each ended at a little over 42 percent of the vote.

Though an unknown number of absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted, the margin is large enough that the results are very unlikely to change. Deister and Kelley led among early absentee voters as well.

Local progressives are celebrating these wins — in the most high-profile of the races in an otherwise down election year — as a victory for their side in an otherwise down year. Deister and Kelley had charged the current board with lacking vision and leadership, making bad business decisions, and allowing the community college to nearly lose its accreditation.

Elsewhere, residents of the Samoa Peninsula elected to form a community services district to manage essential services — water, sewage, firefighting — for the entire spit south of the bridge. The vote was decisive — 78 percent in favor, 22 percent opposed.

Rio Dell gave a big thumbs-up to the proposed commercial cannabis tax, which will give the city a cut of all the weed-related development happening in the old Eel River Sawmills plant north of town. Eighty-two percent of voters were in favor of the tax.

Though a majority of Blue Lake voters looked favorably on a property tax assessment to support its firefighters — 51 to 49 percent, at the close of counting last night — the measure requires a supermajority to pass into law. Measure Y appears to have failed.

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(VIDEO) Advocates for Homeless Housing Alternatives Pushing Board of Supervisors to Declare Shelter Crisis

Sierra Jenkins / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 7:50 a.m. / LoCO Video Reports

Click video to play. Problems on iPhone? Turn your phone sideways.

Members of the organization “Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives” — known as “AHHA” — presented petitions with more than 1,000 signatures supporting the declaration of a local shelter crisis to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

In this LoCO Video Report we hear from the group and many others who are deeply concerned with the county’s abundance of homeless people but shortage of places for those people to potentially live, or even go.

It’s a complex problem with no right answer, but AHHA is confident that if allowed the opportunity they could make a positive impact on the homeless population by creating a sanctuary campground or tiny house village.

They say the declaration would help relax zoning restrictions and liability, thus allowing for more areas to become potential sites. It could also open up access to state and federal funding.

“For us, a tent is affordable housing,” says Nezzie Wade, AHHA’s president. “We’ve always thought …. starting there, and then tiny houses, to transitional houses, to permanent. But the whole idea is: People have to start somewhere.”

The organization hopes the shelter crisis declaration will soon be on the supervisors’ agenda to at least allow for further discussion.

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STORM COMING! High Winds, Decent Downpour On Tap For Today and Much of the Week; Gale Warnings, Small Craft Advisories Issued

Hank Sims / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 6:49 a.m. / How ‘Bout That Weather

Are you ready for some weather?

The National Weather Service office on Woodley Island forecasts a 100 percent chance of rain today throughout the region, and in pretty decent amounts. The storm is expected to hit Eureka sometime after 10 a.m., and should dump up to an inch of rain around Humboldt Bay, and more than that in the hinterlands.

More than that, though: Winds. It’s gonna be a windy one.

Graphic: National Weather Service.

Keep your flashlights close and watch yourself on the roads! It’s probably going to get a little nuts out there. We’ll try to keep you up with the latest outages and such.

Mariners: There are gale warnings and small craft advisories in effect and upcoming. See below.

The Weather Service’s seven-day forecast calls for much more of the same over the next week, with a small respite of clear skies on Saturday. Here’s the forecast:

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION National Weather Service Eureka CA 500 AM PST Wed Nov 8 2017.

SYNOPSIS…A strong storm system will bring robust south winds and periods of heavy rain today. Wet weather will continue through the end of the work week with high pressure bringing a dry start to the weekend. && .

DISCUSSION…South winds began to increase on cue early this morning as Kneeland observed 45 mph wind gusts and Ship Mountain (at 5121 feet) observed a 58 mph gusts. The wind advisory remains in effect as winds will continue to increase with the approach of the cold front. Some light radar reflectivity were also observed early this morning although with little to no rainfall observed. Lighter, warm frontal precipitation will be possible through the morning hours with the main band of rain arriving to the coast around noon. Rainfall will be heavy at times through this afternoon and evening. Expect 1 to 2 inches of rain across the mountains of Del Norte, Humboldt, and northern Mendocino counties. 0.75 to 1 inch will be possible elsewhere in Trinity and southern Mendocino counties.

The Humboldt Bay area can expect some lower totals (0.75-1 inch) than surrounding areas with the robust southeast winds causing a rain shadow effect. Both the rain and wind will result in varying impacts across the region including downed limbs, debris in roadways, possible rock slides, and potential ponding water with heavier rains. All of these will make driving difficult so be cautious of the inclement weather while traveling and slow down to avoid potential hazards.

Another front associated with this storm will prolong rain on Thursday with more showery conditions for Friday. This can bring additional 1 to 2 inches with local 3 inches to the mountains and 0.50 to 1 inch elsewhere. Snow levels will fall as the upper trough tracks over the Pacific Northwest Thursday but warm and moist air quickly moves in behind the trough. This will result in snow levels really only falling to 5500 feet which means the only snow impacts will be primarily in the Trinity Alps. Building high pressure will bring a dry start to the weekend with another storm expected to bring a return of wet weather Sunday into early next week.

AVIATION…Clouds will continue to gradually lower today. However, ceilings may remain above 3000 feet through most of the day due to the strong S winds down the terrain. Returns are already showing up on radar, but most of the rain thus far has been virga and not reached the ground with perhaps a few sprinkles here and there. Expect rains to increase later this morning, eventually making it to KUKI by afternoon. S winds are increasing along the Redwood Coast. Gusts to 35 knots are likely at KCEC by late morning or early afternoon, with gusts over 30 knots at KACV and near 25 knots at KUKI. Have continued to indicate low-level wind shear. With the gusty surface winds and general uniform direction, the shear will be marginal and more significant during lulls in the surface winds. Higher winds are expected across higher terrain, with gusts over 60 knots along exposed ridgetops. After a brief wind decrease later this afternoon, winds will pick up a bit during the evening hours. These winds will finally start to diminish later tonight and on Thursday.

MARINE…S winds continue to increase across the coastal waters early this morning. A 052OZ ASCAT satellite pass indicated gale force winds about 90 NM west of our N outer waters, and gales have likely spread into that zone as of this writing. Winds at the coastal buoys have been steadily increasing over the last several hours. Marines headlines appear to be on track, and no changes were made for this package. Winds should max out around midday today with occasional gusts to near storm force possible over the N outer waters extending to near Cape Mendocino. After subsiding a bit late this afternoon and evening, another burst of S-SW winds is expected late in the evening with more gusts of at least 30 knots over the N waters. Winds and seas will subside on Thursday and Friday. S winds will increase again late on Sunday. /SEC && .EKA

WATCHES/WARNINGS/ADVISORIES…

  • Wind Advisory from 10 AM this morning to 9 PM PST this evening for CAZ101-103
  • Wind Advisory until 4 AM PST Thursday for CAZ102-104>106.
NORTHWEST CALIFORNIA COASTAL WATERS…
  • Small Craft Advisory until 9 AM PST this morning for PZZ450.
  • Gale Warning from 9 AM this morning to 10 PM PST this evening for PZZ450.
  • Gale Warning until 6 PM PST this evening for PZZ470-475.
  • Small Craft Advisory until 6 PM PST Thursday for PZZ455. 



OBITUARY: Harold Laverne Baker, 1937-2017

LoCO Staff / Wednesday, Nov. 8 @ 6:45 a.m. / Obits

Harold Laverne Baker was born August 30, 1937 to Glen and Helen Baker. He died peacefully in his sleep on October 11, 2017. 

Harold grew up in Sproul Creek and Bull Creek. He attended Garberville Elementary. He quit school at 16 and went to work. He went to work at the B River lumber company. He worked all his life in the woods. He worked for numerous companies and would camp out a lot during the summer at Martin’s Cabin and Ruth Lake.

He will always be remembered by many kids as Santa as he would dress up every year and go house to house and hand out candy canes. He also did a few floats for the Christmas Truckers’ Parade. Then he tried his luck at drag-racing the ‘55 Ford at Samoa Dragstrip.

He loved to go camping and fishing. He always talked about Fish Lake and Kangaroo Lake.

Harold is preceded in death by his parents Glen and Helen Baker; brother Bud Baker; sisters Evelyn Smith, Ester Knight, Carol Baker; daughter Anna Baker; sons Timmy and Tommy Baker; granddaughter Taiana Fuller.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Rita Baker; sons Harold Baker, Shannon baker; stepson Frank Vitgenos; daughter Lena Fuller; stepdaughter Claudia Morris; brothers Herman Baker, Eugene Baker, Homer Baker; grandchildren Sara Boeing, Travis Fuller, Kimber Timmerman, Holli Vitgenos, Shelbi Vitgenos, Lil Mason, Jackie Mason, Deavon Shumard, Dustin Smith. He is also survived by numerous great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

There will be a celebration of life on Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Monday Club at 610 Main Street, Fortuna. It will be a potluck, so bring your favorite dish.

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The obituary above was submitted by Harold Baker’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.