Defense seeks more time to prepare for Zach Harrison murder trial
The deputy public defender assigned to represent Zach Harrison asked for a month-long continuance before a trial date is set.
Harrison, 28, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 58-year-old Alderpoint man Robert James Holtsclaw in September 2017 and he’s remained in custody since his arrest in Eureka in May 2018.
Harrison will be back in court for a trial-setting hearing on Feb. 7 after his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brie Bennett, requested more time for the defense to finish its own investigation, a motion that went unopposed by the prosecution.
At the preliminary hearing in September, Deputy District Attorney Joel Buckingham called just two witnesses to the stand to testify and one of those witnesses, Tory Hennings, was in Holtsclaw’s vehicle during the incident. Hennings testified he had gotten out of the pickup truck when he saw Harrison point a rifle at Holtsclaw and then he heard shots fired.
Holtsclaw was pronounced dead at the scene and Harrison, who fled the scene in a pickup truck, remained on the run for the next eight months, including jumping into the Eel River to escape sheriff’s deputies in pursuit at one point.
Harrison remains in custody with bail set at $2 million.
New Chad Smith sex abuse trial set for Feb. 11
A man accused of the serial sexual abuse of a girl younger than 14 will stand trial on Feb. 11 following a trial confirmation hearing on Thursday.
Chad Smith, a 42-year-old former restaurant owner and substitute teacher, is accused of serially abusing the victim identified as Jane Doe I beginning when she was 10 until she was 15. Following a preliminary hearing in July, Smith was held to answer to the charges that also included a second victim, Jane Doe II.
At Thursday’s hearing, Smith conferred shortly with his defense attorney Andrea Sullivan before she addressed the court.
“I know Ms. (Stacey) Eads is in a jury trial,” Sullivan said, adding, “my only request is for the trial to be set the week of Feb. 4.”
After conferring with the prosecutor, Smith’s trial was set for Feb. 11 and it’s estimated to take a month to complete. A trial in February 2018 ended in a mistrial after additional information came to light.
Smith appeared in court wearing jail-issued clothing and he remains in custody with bail set at $2.65 million.
Attorney for man accused in Arcata shooting confirmed
Following a delay due to scheduling conflicts and an attorney currently involved in an ongoing trial, the appointment of defense counsel for a man accused of attempted murder has been completed.
Private attorney Russell Clanton was officially appointed as defense attorney for Matthew Ramsey, who is accused of shooting and wounding a man during an altercation at an Arcata residence on the morning of Dec. 3.
Clanton, who is currently involved in another trial, appeared in front of Judge Lawrence Killoran and after quietly conferring with Ramsey for a minute accepted the appointment Thursday morning.
“I just want to clear the waters,” Clanton said addressing Killoran. “When I was appointed to represent Mr. Ramsey, I expressed to him that I wanted to check on any potential conflicts between Mr. (David) Celli and (myself and) I found there are no conflicts. I communicated that to the court and to the Ramsey family and I did so with the caveat that I was in trial.”
Celli was a former colleague of Clanton’s who is now a deputy public defender.
Clanton added that he would begin to work on Ramsey’s case once he’s done with the trial and he has a private investigator to begin work immediately.
“The Public Defender’s Office has been relieved and Mr. Clanton is officially assigned to represent Mr. Ramsey,” said Killoran.
Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada had no objection and the hearing ended with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 31.
Ramsey appeared in court wearing jail-issued clothing and handcuffs and he remains in custody.
Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.