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From the Mad River Union’s coverage of Justice for Josiah’s actions at two schedule Arcata City Council meetings – both suspended until August 29.

At the more than an hour long ordeal’s end, Interim Police Chief Rick Ehle made some important disclosures about the Lawson investigation. In response to questions from attendees in the lobby, he said that “We’re very close” to solving the case. He said that in other venues, the case was strong enough for charges to be brought “right now.”

“The reality is, I think they will charge,” he said. “But you can’t compromise a case.”

Ehle said that the City of Arcata is considering requesting a change of venue for the trial, with a “career prosecutor” brought in to assist the district attorney’s office with the case. “If they’d acquiesce to that career prosecutor helping them prosecute the case, we might have a bargain. I think I’ve got the city talked into probably paying for it.”

While “kind of an unusual request,” he said, “They do it all the time.”

Protesters at tonight’s meeting, and prior meetings, have demanded that the city rehire Tom Parker, a former FBI agent who worked on the case, later resigned and was accused by the city of inappropriately disclosing case details.

Ehle said there were “problems with the Parker relationship,” and with two lawsuits filed, that the city can’t meet with him without an attorney present.

He said he was striving to keep a promise he made to Lawson’s mother, Charmaine, to solve the case before he is replaced by a permanent police chief. He said he would be willing to stay on in some capacity until the case is brought to closure.

He claimed that Charmaine had said through an intermediary she was satisfied with the measures Ehle had taken and the progress that’s been made on the case.

“We have done stuff,” Ehle said. “So much you wouldn’t believe.”

“We’ve been hearing that for 16 months,” replied an activist.

Ehle repeated what city officials have said before, it’s inadvisable to release case details, but that doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made. He said an estimated $100,000 had been spent on additional resources.

He expressed frustration with the slow pace of DNA processing by the state’s Department of Justice, with an 11-month delay despite requests for priority.

Ehe also said he’d like to meeting with a core group of perhaps half a dozen activists on a regular basis, to exchange views and information in a non-confrontational venue. Gesturing to the vacated Council Chamber, Ehle said, “This doesn’t do us any good.”

So I really hope this isn’t another smoke and mirrors maneuver and empty promise as has been offered for the past 16 months, because that would be a very bad thing.

This is a minor point of contention, but can something “they do all the time” be an “unusual request?”

I’m a little concerned that he tipped his hand.  I mean, if you did the crime and you’re reading this article, wouldn’t you be on a plane to Bangladesh or someplace right now?

But I do appreciate the remark about a case being easier in other venues.  It says something about how seriously Humboldt County juries take the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof.


August 2018
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