Office of the District Attorney - Maggie Fleming, District Attorney
August 20, 2021
Following 38-year-old Derek Alwin Hughes’ guilty plea to one count of felony vandalism on July 23rd, Judge Christopher Wilson today sentenced Hughes to two years on probation and ordered him to complete 400 hours of community service and to stay out of Redwood National and State Parks.
The conviction stems from a 2018 investigation by Redwood National and State Parks Law Enforcement Rangers of the removal of old-growth redwood burl from trees in the vicinity of Newton B. Drury Parkway. Investigators used photo monitoring and tire-track evidence to obtain a search warrant for Hughes’ residence, where they found pieces of burl that matched the damaged trees.
Hughes faced a maximum 3-year jail sentence and $10,000 fine. In prosecuting the case, Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Steven Steward argued that the court should impose the maximum fine given the extent of damage to irreplaceable shared natural resources and the importance of deterring such behavior. Deputy Public Defender Wade Orbelian represented Hughes.