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By Jessie Faulkner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 10/13/15, 10:05 PM PDT
Double murder defendant Jason Michael Arreaga took the stand Tuesday, telling the court he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, had made a living from selling drugs, and was not responsible for the murder of Harley Hammers and Angel Robin Tully on Sept. 3, 2014 in Fieldbrook. Instead, Arreaga testified, Shavonne Hammers shot her estranged husband and former friend.
“I heard Angel yelling at Shavonne … then I heard gunshots,” Arreaga said under questioning by Deputy Public Defender Heidi Holmquist.
Arreaga testified earlier that he discovered that Shavonne Hammers had brought along a gun when the trio — himself, his girlfriend Carly Michaels and Shavonne Hammers — stopped at Willits on their trip to Humboldt County from Lake County.
He testified that he hadn’t used the gun and didn’t have it at the time of the shooting.
Arreaga said he was in a full-blown panic attack, having stated earlier that he has post-traumatic stress disorder and is prone to severe anxiety — a condition treated with prescriptions of Klonopin and Lexapro.
“All I could think was to protect Carly,” Arreaga said.
After the shooting, Arreaga testified, Shavonne Hammers was holding Tully up and trying to drag her, he said.
“It was really horrible,” he said. “She was just staring up with a really agonized look on her face and coughing blood. It stopped me in my tracks.”
The gun was lying on the ground next to Tully, he said.
Arreaga recalled that he then told Michaels to get their dog and get in the car. Then, he said, Shavonne Hammers jumped in. The gun was on her lap, he testified.
When Shavonne Hammers was on the witness stand in late September, she testified that she had not seen the suspected murder weapon, but recalled little from the incident due to the combined effects of sleep deprivation, prescription medication, methamphetamine and alcohol. She also testified that Arreaga had confessed to shooting Harley Hammers and Tully.
When asked about Shavonne Hammers’ testimony that she had not seen the suspected murder weapon, Arreaga said, “It’s been really hard for me not to jump up and scream.
Arreaga testified the trio drove down a dirt road after the shooting, arriving at an area near a creek where they stayed from late afternoon into the night. At the time, he testified, Shavonne Hammers was covered with blood.
Arreaga said Shavonne Hammers started a campfire and burned clothing, all the while saying what Arreaga described as crazy things such as, “This had to happen, it couldn’t be any other way.”
While Arreaga said he couldn’t stand Shavonne Hammers and only wanted to get away from her, he testified that he needed her to lead him out of the remote area.
“I needed her to get me home,” he said. “I had no idea where I was.”
He also said that Shavonne Hammers had asked him what to do with the gun and he recommended getting rid of it.
Holmquist also questioned the accused about his response to the witnesses who said he shot Harley Hammers and Tully.
“Angry and frustrated,” he responded. “Shavonne knew I would not speak about anybody’s business to the police.” “Have you told the truth?” Holmquist asked.
“Yes,” Arreaga responded.
Arreaga’s time on the witness stand continues today with cross examination by Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis.
Jessie Faulkner can be reached at 707-441-0509707-441-0509.