Arreaga’s ex-lover breaks down on stand

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

EUREKA – Carly Michaels of Lucerne, 17 at the time of the double murder in Fieldbrook in September 2014, teared up and began to choke up repeatedly as she testified for the state Oct. 5 against her ex-boyfriend and the defendant, Jason Michael Arreaga.

Michaels, a recovering drug addict who was with Arreaga at the time of the murders in a Fieldbrook driveway, had not been on the witness stand long when her ex-lover broke down too at the defense table, crying and sobbing quietly with his head lowered abjectly on his crossed arms, his back heaving.  

Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles granted Arreaga’s request to be excused for the rest of Michaels’ testimony and he left the courtroom red-eyed and flushed.

Questioned in detail by Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis, Michaels swore under oath that both she and Shavonne Hammers, wife of one of the murder victims, were inside a small travel trailer at 4406 Fieldbrook Rd. when shots rang out in the driveway at about 5 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2014. Alarmed, the two ran out to learn what had happened, with Michaels trailing Shavonne mHammers through the door.

Michaels’ testimony undercut a key defense argument in the trial: that the widowed Shavonne Hammers should be considered an alternative suspect because she and her murdered husband, Harley Hammers  Jr., were estranged.

Shavonne Hammers had the motive, the defense claims, because Harley Hammers Jr., 37, was having an affair with Angel Robin Tully, 37, a childhood friend of Shavonne Hammers.

But according to Michaels, Shavonne was inside the trailer when the gunfire woke the two of them from a drug-hazed nap.

 Both Harley Hammers and Tully died of multiple gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by Arreaga when the couple returned to the trailer residence for a second time on Sept. 3, 2014 to confront Shavonne Hammers. She and Tully had been trading venomous barbs earlier that same day in the same location.  

 In the prior confrontation Arreaga allegedly drove the couple off with two warning shots at Harley Hammers’ feet. He and Tully promptly departed. They were living temporarily in his RV across Fieldbrook Road behind a residence of his inlaws.    

   Led step by step by Curtis, Michaels, dressed in a white, long sleeve blouse and black slacks, recounted what had happened, volunteering that at the time, “I was super-intoxicated on meth and heroin,” as well as on marijuana and whiskey. She had been heavily “doped up” since departing Lucerne with boyfriend Arreaga at the wheel and with Shavonne Hammers, who was cadging a ride to Humboldt County after her boyfriend threw her out.

Michaels told the 12 jurors and four alternates that while lying on a bed next to Shavonne Hammers in the trailer, “I heard a car screech up in the gravel” and come to an abrupt stop. She rose to peer out the blinds, saw the same couple Arreaga had allegedly fired at earlier in the day and heard “the same yelling and screaming as before,” when Tully and Shavonne Hammers had traded insults.

 Through the blinds Michaels saw “two people coming toward Jason, a guy and a girl.

  “I yelled at Shavonne on the bed . . . that those two people are back” and “shook her,” although “I was very out of it from being so high.”

  Michaels heard Arreaga yelling at the two, “No, you can’t go in there [the trailer], that’s my girl in there, that’s my girl’s in there!”

Michaels ran outside with her purse and her dog, grabbing the cowboy boots of Shavonne Hammers, who had preceded her barefoot out the trailer door.

  Although Michaels confirmed she saw Shavonne Hammers standing over the dying Tully’s body, at no time did she see either Arreaga’s gun or the fleeing Harley Hammers. Shot three times, according to previous testimony, he ran to the end of the driveway, climbed into a neighbor’s parked pickup and drove back across the road and wobbled to a halting stop in a junk pile next to his RV, where the truck beached itself and he collapsed in the cab, dying.

 “I did not see a man running away from the scene,” Michaels testified, and did not hear a vehicle “peel off.”  Nor did she see Arreaga “shoot a man.”

As Arreaga moved Tully’s body out of the way of his tan or gold Buick, Shavonne Hammers ordered Michaels into the car.

  “Jason was freaking out,” Michaels testified, “yelling ‘What the fuck, what the fuck?!’”  

 As he moved the body, “Shavonne got in [the car], yelling ‘I gotta clean up, I gotta cleanup!’” Tully’s blood had stained her shirt and pants.

Michaels said she had stopped looking at what was going on outside the car.      

 “I was scared and I was hugging my dog,” she remembered.

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