Laggard witnesses turn up in Arcata chef murder case

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – Three reluctant defense witnesses in the 2013 Arcata chef murder case appeared voluntarily in Humboldt County Superior Court Jan. 26 and affirmed they would return to testify when the trial of suspect Juan Joseph Ferrer begins, probably in April.

At a hearing before Judge Arvid Johnson today, Jan. 26, the three Arcata residents, Sarah Brody, Virginia Jimenez and Cher Southard, agreed to appear initially for jury selection to familiarize themselves with the legal arguments in the prosecution of Ferrer, 36. He is charged with murder in the fatal street-side slaying of Abruzzi chef Douglas Anderson-Jordet, 50, on Nov. 25, 2013.

Literally dozens of attempts last fall by a defense counsel investigator and Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies proved fruitless in reaching the three prospective witnesses, according to Ferrer’s attorney, Deputy Conflict Counsel Marek Reavis. At the time, Reavis said he had no information on why the three were, as he put it, “ducking” investigators.

Now, belatedly, they have agreed to cooperate and testify.

Based on statements each of the three gave to Arcata police in the immediate aftermath of Anderson-Jordet’s death, Reavis believes they can provide important trial testimony on the deceased’s prolonged history of angry and belligerent behavior when drunk. Anderson-Jordet’s blood alcohol level was 0.23, nearly three times the legal limit to drive when he was slain, according to Reavis.

Virginia Jimenez was Anderson-Jordet’s ex-girlfriend at the time of his death and thoroughly familiar with his heavy drinking habit, Reavis said. They had socialized together as friends the afternoon and early evening before the slaying, which occurred between one and two a.m. at the corner of 11th and H Streets in Arcata, adjoining Vintage Avenger.

Reavis identified Cher Southard as the manager of the Crew House Arcata, where Jimenez and Anderson-Jordet, no longer intimates, resided in separate quarters. Like Jimenez, Southard told police she was familiar with the victim’s aggressive behavior when inebriated, according to Reavis.

His third material witness, Sarah Brody, reportedly overheard the epithets exchanged between one and two a.m. when the brief but fatal encounter between Anderson-Jordet and Ferrer occurred beneath her H Street apartment window. Ferrer was accompanied by two friends.

Ear witness Brody “heard yelling and cursing beneath her window from a male voice that she characterized as ‘enraged,’” Reavis quoted her as telling police. He recounted: “The same male voice passed under her window going north on H Street, shouting insults and slurs, including ‘Fuck you and your fat girlfriend!’”

That referred to Sophie Buttercup Rocheleau of Arcata, one of Ferrer’s companions when the drunken standoff broke out. The three had been socializing that evening in Arcata.

The testimony of Jimenez, Southard and Brody is pivotal to the defense, Reavis contends, because it corroborates Ferrer’s version of events: that he was frightened by Anderson-Jordet’s behavior and acted in preventive self-defense. He brandished a knife intending to deter the victim from assaulting him, without intent to kill him.   

In another development at the Jan. 26 hearing, Judge Johnson and the prosecution agreed to a defense motion for an independent chemical analysis of blood drops by a private, independent laboratory.

Two sets of forensic samples of Anderson-Jordet’s blood were taken at two locations: one at 12th and H Streets opposite Wildberries Marketplace the night of the stabbing, where Anderson-Jordet’s body was found; the second sample, taken two or three days later by Arcata police investigators, was lifted at the scene of the stabbing at 11th &H.  Reavis estimated that Anderson-Jordet walked up the hill some 80 yards or about 140 paces toward Wildberries before collapsing at the corner opposite the market at 12th and H.

A comparative analysis by the California Department of Justice determined that the drops of blood found near the body and between the treads of Anderson-Jordet’s footwear, versus the samples taken at the crime scene at 11th and H, showed the same levels of degradation.

Reavis expects the non-governmental analysis to confirm whether the two samples are the same blood type.   

If they are, he reasons, it will demonstrate that Ferrer and his companions “did not leave Anderson-Jordet to die,” as his family and relatives claimed when they read their victim statements to the court at prior proceedings.


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  1. TonyVoluntary said:

    Mad River Union moderator, I think it’s time to get rid of this sad excuse for a profile for good.

  2. Jack Durham said:

    We’ve done extensive reporting on the prosecution and its claims. This article is about the strategy that is being pursued by the defense, which is a part of the story we haven’t heard much about up until now. When judging the fairness of the court coverage, you should look at all the articles that have been printed, rather than just one. You may recall our coverage of the Bhodi Tree murder trial. One week we would have an article that was mostly about the prosecution’s arguments, because that’s what was being heard in court at the time. The next week it would be about the defense arguments, once again because that’s what’s being heard in court.

    And to answer norcalguy101’s question, yes. During the trial, it’s likely that the victim’s character will be questioned. That appears to be the defense strategy. We’ll be reporting on the defense arguments. The prosecution may counter these claims, and presumably will go after the character of the defendant. We’ll report on that too.

  3. jay said:

    so let me get this correct you two apes laurie the congo and norcal the chimp wimp.words are a reason of action.just like how upset you are this very second with the wonderful nicknames I gave you two parisites.ok the victim was aggressive intoxicated attempted towards the 3 more then once that’s stalking and isn’t that ok for your daughters nisces sisters mothers to be scared when stalked but not 2 faggots and a fat bitch??your intake 0f oxygen should be in your native Europe land quit being biggots on our own people on our own land on our own country

  4. norcalguy101 said:

    So the murder victim, his friends, and family are going to have to endure the assassination of his character now? It is so true there is no advocacy for victims in a criminal justice system. It’s the criminals that get the justice. Our society is upside-down.

  5. Harmony Knowles said:

    Worst journalistic piece of garbage without facts, proof, or evidence of any kind. If the journalist had followed the court case whatsoever, he would have known that these laggard witnesses that he speaks of are not laggard, they have always been there. Number 2, why would somebody who was not guilty RUN out of state and hide from persecution. IF you are defending yourself, in self-defense, any single person would come forward call the police and say this man attacked me, this 50 year old man attacked me. Why hide the knife? Say you are stabbed and one block from home….whats your action?..Try to stumble home. He was stabbed and left to die. Not one of the three murders called and said hey we stabbed this guy cause he came after us. Instead they went on facebook and bragged about it. We also do not know the blood alcohol level of the other three offenders because they ran out of state and hid for 3 days. Whoever wrote this article… shame on you for trying to take depict somebody who was a kind-hearted human being as some type of a ramped alcoholic instead of who he truly was. Get your facts straight next time before you poke around in the justice system. SHAME ON YOU. Journalism is backed by evidence not opinions. You should be fired.

  6. Laurie said:

    To bad the deceased is not here to defend himself.. A murder is a murder.. words do not kill. a Knife did. Guilty as sin.

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