Court roundup: Hearing delayed for Jeff Tsarnas; Attorney in terrorist threats case needs more time

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Jeff Tsarnas’ hit-and-run hearing delayed for third time

A preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning involving a man charged with felony hit-and-run was delayed Wednesday because the man’s attorney was not available.

Tsarnas

Jeff Tsarnas, 55, is accused of striking a pedestrian on Fernbridge, injuring her and leaving her with a serious ankle injury and then fleeing the scene in November 2018.

Tsarnas pleaded not guilty to felony hit-and-run at an arraignment hearing in January and he’s had his preliminary hearing delayed twice in the past four weeks.

This time around it was because his defense attorney, Neal Sanders, was out due to medical issues and fellow private attorney Kathleen Bryson stood in for Sanders at Wednesday’s short hearing in front of Judge Christopher Wilson.

He is accused of striking a woman walking on Fernbridge. Garberville resident Marie Kelley suffered a severe injury to her ankle and it remains unclear whether she will fully recover.

“We expect the defense to file a motion to continue,” said the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees. “We do object to the motion to continue and the people are ready to proceed.”

Wilson ruled for the defense.

“I find good cause to continue the matter,” Wilson said as a series of dates were proposed to the parties.

Tsarnas appeared in court out of custody and he will be back in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 12.

Kelley is being represented by attorney Patrick Griego.

Tsarnas’ daughter was fatally struck in a hit-and-run incident in Fortuna in July 2016. Marcia Kitchen was later charged with and, through a plea deal, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. She is currently serving an eight-year sentence.

Hearing delayed for man accused of making terrorist threats

A Fortuna man who has been charged with making threats against a Northern California diocese was in court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Allman

Sean Allman, 20, has been charged with two felonies: making threats and obstructing the exercise of religion as well as making threats to commit crimes resulting in death.

He is accused of threatening the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, a group that was meeting in Arcata at the time the threats were made.

Allman was about 30 minutes late to the hearing due to a communication mixup between his family and his defense counsel, Benjamin Okin.

Allman pleaded not guilty to both charges at his arraignment in June. On Wednesday, Okin filed a motion to delay the hearing because he needed more time to prepare.

“I am making the motion based on a large amount of discovery I have received,” Okin told Wilson. “He is prepared to waive his 60 days.”

Wilson granted the motion and then questioned Allman as to whether he understood his rights.

“You understand you have a right to a hearing within 60 days of your arraignment?” Wilson asked Allman who responded, “Yes.”

“Do you waive that right?” Wilson continued.

Allman responded he did and Wilson ruled he found good cause to delay the hearing.

Deputy District Attorney Whitney Timm opposed the delay and requested the preliminary hearing be scheduled as soon as possible.

Allman appeared in court out of custody and he will be back in court for a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for Oct. 8.

Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.

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