A hearing on whether or not a man who has served a prison sentence after being convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child took place on Friday morning and the presiding judge denied a request to place the man at a property in Garberville.

The Honorable John Feeney “respectfully denied” a motion by Liberty Health Care to place Joshua Cooley at the Alderpoint Road property. Roughly 45 to 50 members of the Southern Humboldt community attended the hearing that was moved to the supervisors’ chambers because of the number of attendees.

Feeney heard statements from about a dozen community members including members of Cooley’s family as well as arguments from District Attorney Maggie Fleming and defense counsel Meagan O’Connell, supervising attorney in the Conflict Counsel’s office.

Fleming said not only should Cooley not be allowed to live at the Garberville property, he shouldn’t be released from the state hospital.

“There’s no suitable placement for him outside of Coalinga is our opinion and it’s the opinion of the experts who have evaluated him for years,” Fleming said following the hearing.

O’Connell argued that Cooley has served his sentence and was scheduled to be released more than two years ago. Humboldt County is his domicile county and so he should be released to live locally, she said.

“Mr. Cooley’s family resides in Humboldt County and Mr. Cooley has a great number of family and friends who want to see him succeed,” O’Connell argued.

Feeney agreed with O’Connell’s argument that Cooley should be released and he will be supervised post-release by Liberty Health. Feeney ordered Cooley to be released and then suspended the order until Liberty Health has confirmed a suitable residence.

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