Office of the District Attorney – Maggie Fleming, District Attorney
July 13, 2018
Today a Humboldt County jury found Jessie Matthew Herrera guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon and unlawful possession of ammunition by a felon. These crimes were discovered on the morning of Saturday February 3, 2018, when Eureka Police Department Officer Jonathan Eckert stopped a car traveling the wrong direction on the one-way section of Allard Avenue. During the traffic stop, Officer Eckert noted an open container of alcohol on the floorboard and requested warrant checks on both the driver and the passenger (Mr. Herrera). Officer Eckert learned Mr. Herrera had outstanding warrants out of Stockton and arrested him for those warrants. The driver was on probation with search terms, so Officer Eckert conducted a search of the vehicle. He found a firearm and ammunition in the glove compartment directly in front of the defendant. Following Officer Eckert informing the defendant of his Miranda rights, he admitted ownership of the firearm and ammunition.
Because the defendant has a "strike" prior conviction for robbery with infliction of great bodily injury, he faces a maximum sentence of 7 years 4 months in prison for today's convictions. Sentencing is scheduled for August 16, 2018 before Judge Kaleb Cockrum who was the trial judge. Deputy District Attorney Joel Buckingham prosecuted the case; Deputy Public Defender Joe Judge represented the defendant. The District Attorney’s Office appreciates Officer Eckert's effective police-work.
Earlier today, 30-year-old Brett Neil Hansen of Arcata pled guilty to carjacking, grand theft, and first-degree residential burglary. The defendant also admitted to using a firearm during the carjacking.
On September 2, 2017, the defendant, a previously convicted felon, broke into the Westhaven-area home of a former friend and stole a shotgun.
On September 17, 2017, the defendant was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Eureka Police Department (EPD) officers near the Bayshore Mall. The defendant fled from the traffic stop on foot, then stole a bicycle from a passing cyclist. After riding the bicycle about 100 yards, the defendant got off the bicycle, then used a firearm to force a woman out of her vehicle. The defendant fled in the stolen vehicle and was not apprehended until his February, 2018 arrest by Fortuna Police Department (FPD) officers.
Deputy District Attorney Roger C. Rees prosecuted the case with assistance from EPD Senior Detective Ronald Harpham. Heidi Holmquist Wells of the Zwerdling Law Firm represented the defendant. Judge Wilson sentenced the defendant to 14 years 4 months in state prison, as agreed by the prosecution and defense. The defendant will serve at least 85% of his sentence because of the violent nature of his actions.
District Attorney Maggie Fleming thanks those who made critical contributions to bringing this case to a fair and appropriate conclusion, including EPD, FPD, and particularly several civilian witnesses willing to provide information and testify if needed.