Opening arguments begin for Arcata double murder suspect Bodhi Tree


EUREKA- After more than a month of jury selection, opening arguments for the trial of Arcata double murder suspect began Wednesday.

Bodhi Tree, is accused of the attempted murder of Rhett August, in Eureka on the night of May 15, 2013 and the murder of both Alan "Sunshine" Marcet, 27, and Christina Schwarz, 18, a senior at Eureka High School on May 18, 2013.

Tree sat in court next to his attorneys on Wednesday wearing a white button up with a goatee and a buzzed hair cut, instead of the long hair he has had while in custody. Public Defenders Heidi Holmquist and Casey Russo both spoke in court appearing as the defense. Elan Firpo, Deputy District Attorney, appeared for the people. The jury is made up of 14 people, with two alternates.

Opening statements began with Prosecutor Elan Firpo saying that there was no good reason for both murders or the attempted murder. She argued that both incidents were connected by one person, the lead witness in the case, who had sat in the car while Tree attempted to murder Rhett August, the same person who introduced Tree to Marcet and Schwarz at a party in Arcata. That witness, Firpo said, was the only person who had seen Tree with the .28 caliber pistol, the gun allegedly used in both incidents.

Firpo said Tree came to the person's house after shooting both Marcet and Shwarz at close rang, bragging, "I got two more." Firpo said Tree's friend was a heroin addict, felt guilty for his involvement and was an unlikely person to cooperate with police, but told officer's about the incident in Eureka, the gun and what Tree had claimed to do in Arcata.

Firpo said a Mickey's beer bottle had been at the Arcata house where the murders had occurred with Tree's DNA, linking him to the crime.

Holmquist presented the defense's arguments before the jury. She argued there was not sufficient evidence in the case for Tree to be tried for both the murder and attempted murder. She said that law enforcement had ignored evidence and leads, saying that Tree was an "easy target for law enforcement."

Holmquist pointed out to the jury that during the search law enforcement had never recovered the weapon Tree had allegedly used, and argued that the lead witness in the case was an untrustworthy "junkie", telling jurors to, "be the skeptical detective that law enforcement was not."

Two witnesses took the stand, both officers from the Eureka Police Department that had been the first to respond to the scene in Eureka where shots were allegedly fired near Del Norte Street on May 15th, where August had been injured. 

The trial is estimated to continue into mid June. News Channel 3 will have a reporter in the court room on Thursday as the case continues.