No death penalty in Arcata double murder; Tree's trial date pushed back to April 7

The man accused of fatally shooting a teenage girl and the man who came to her defense at an Arcata home in May will not face the death penalty if convicted of their murders, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Monday.

"The death penalty is not being pursued in the Bodhi Tree case," he said.

The department has a review process for all cases which qualify for the death penalty, including a detailed review of the facts and allowing the defense to present mitigating factors about the defendant, according to Gallegos.

Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtzen had set Monday as the deadline for a decision on the death penalty, which could have been applied in the case because there were multiple deaths.

Tree is accused of killing Alan "Sunshine" Marcet and Christina Schwarz, a Eureka High School senior, at an Eye Street house in Arcata on May 18, and for reportedly shooting Rhett August in Eureka on May 15. August survived. Tree has pleaded not guilty.

Several witnesses in the preliminary hearing described Tree as acting aggressively toward women and prosecutors have said he may have been harassing Schwarz before he allegedly shot her and Marcet when he tried to intervene.

Tree had been released from prison a few weeks earlier after serving 16 months for felony evasion of a police officer.

According to the prosecution, Tree shot August in an act of retaliation after Tree was beaten by several men at August's Eureka apartment several days earlier.

During a court hearing on Monday, Tree's trial was pushed to April 7 to allow Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo time to receive a report about an expert witness the defense plans to call at trial. She said the prosecution plans to call 57 witnesses.

"I'm requesting a continuation of the trial, so I can review that report with my experts," Firpo said.

Tree pulled his time waiver in the case on Feb. 7, meaning the 60-day legal window for trial proceedings to begin falls on April 8.

The defense did not object to pushing back the trial date.

Reinholtzen said he expected the trial would be "long, or relatively long" due to the number of witnesses.

Advertisement