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A Humboldt County Superior Court judge on Tuesday heard what prosecutors say is an audio recording of Hoopa resident Dorothy Ulrich's murder in September 2012.
Suspect Jason Anthony Warren, 29, sat at the defense table and appeared to be busily scribbling notes on a legal pad as muffled sounds of loud thuds and a woman screaming filled the courtroom for about two minutes during the first day of a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to hold him to stand trial.
”You're hurting me,” the woman's voice yells out in the recording, which police took from a surveillance camera outside of Ulrich's home near Hoopa. “What are you doing to me? ... Please. Stop. Please. Please.”
Warren has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from allegations that he murdered Ulrich before purposely running down three joggers on Old Arcata Road last September, killing Humboldt State University geography instructor Suzanne Seemann and seriously injuring the other two.
Charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, as well as special allegations of torture and lying in wait, Warren faces life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty if convicted on all charges.
Judge Dale Reinholtsen also heard testimony from Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Cheryl Franco, who described responding to Ulrich's home on the morning of Sept. 27, 2012, to investigate her death.
Under questioning from District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Franco said Ulrich was found lying just inside the entry way to her home, which sits off State Route 96 near Little Moon Lane.
Franco testified that she pulled surveillance footage from a gas station in Hoopa that shows Ulrich -- wearing the same pajama-style pants she was wearing when she was killed and a hooded sweatshirt -- walk into the mini mart at about 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2012. The footage shows Ulrich meet up with Warren outside the mini mart a few minutes later, before the pair get into Ulrich's silver Kia and drive off, with Warren in the passenger seat.
Ulrich's home was also outfitted with a surveillance system, Franco testified, with cameras trained on her front porch and driveway. The detective testified that footage taken from Ulrich's home shows her and Warren arriving at about 9:50 a.m.
A little more than one hour later, Franco said, footage shows Warren working on Ulrich's porch and setting up an additional surveillance camera pointing toward the rear of her residence.
Franco said she reviewed all the footage recorded at Ulrich's house on Sept. 26, 2012, and the recordings show a neighbor stopping by to chat a couple of times and Ulrich's son paying her a visit at around 9 p.m. before leaving about an hour and 45 minutes later. A bit later that night, Franco said the footage shows Warren out on Ulrich's front porch cleaning some cobwebs.
At about 12:45 a.m., Franco said Warren can be seen walking down the driveway away from the residence, then returning about five minutes later. Franco testified he appears to take the same short walk again at about 2:30 a.m. Shortly after 3 a.m., Franco said she could hear someone on the footage who she believes was Ulrich coughing.
At 3:20 a.m., Franco said she could hear some dogs howling. Seven minutes later, she said, it looked like someone turned off the light in the residence's front room. At about 4:15 a.m., she said she could very faintly hear what sounded like someone speaking.
The detective testified that at no point in the 19 or so hours of footage she reviewed did she see anything she interpreted as Ulrich and Warren arguing or fighting. At about 4:20 a.m., Franco testified that she heard something that stood out.
”I heard several thud sounds -- whacks -- sounds of someone being hit or struck,” she testified. “I heard someone who appeared to be female pleading for it to stop and (saying) that it hurt.”
Many of the dozen or so people in the court gallery dabbed away tears after hearing the approximately two-minute recording, which concluded Tuesday's testimony.
The hearing is scheduled to resume this morning.
Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or email@example.com.