BY LINDA SUTTER
November 12, 2014, in Del Norte County Superior Court Department 2 under Judge Doehle, Assistant District Attorney, Katherine Micks, presented evidence at a preliminary hearing that concluded there was probable cause in the case of People of California v. Matthew Honeycutt, a Correctional Officer at Pelican Bay State Prison.
Two witnesses called by the Prosecuting Attorney related a terrifying incident that started out as a gathering amongst friends but ended up as an assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
The first witness, a Sergeant for the Del Norte County Sheriff’s office began the story.
Patrol Sergeant Daniel Schneck describes that after getting off work on December 21, 2013, he and his girlfriend Macy Jones grabbed a bite to eat at their home along with Aaron Herring and Brian Coffman. After having a few drinks, they loaded up in a vehicle and drove to Northwood’s for a few more drinks. Next stop would be Toreros Mexican restaurant where some people left the party and Dennis McCullah would join their party. From Toreros they ended up at Shooters Bar. After consuming several more drinks throughout the evening the party met up with Matthew Honeycutt and his girlfriend Cheseray Franz.
At closing Matthew Honeycutt and his girlfriend offered the Schneck party a ride home instead of them calling a cab. As everyone begin to load up in the four door pick-up of Honeycutt a yelling match ensued and physical contact took place between Honeycutt and Aaron Herring.
Daniel Schneck had not seen a weapon at that time but was alerted that Herring was bleeding. Schneck walked the victim to the nearby gas station, grabbed paper towels and held them to Herring’s neck, calling the non-emergency number of the sheriff’s office calling code 3, 1145 (did not request law enforcement). However, Crescent City Police Officer Lopez heard over the scanner that an incident had occurred and proceeded to the gas station where the victim was located. Prior to the arrival of Officer Lopez, Honeycutt and his girlfriend left the scene of the incident.
Upon arriving at the scene, Lopez observed Schneck on the ground next to the victim. Lopez talked to people to figure out what had happened because Lopez was unable to talk with the victim because of the grave circumstances.
To further complicate the matter, while Lopez was speaking with people, McCullah and the bouncer of Shooters Bar had an argument. McCullah was intoxicated and refused to leave the scene and Lopez had to arrest him for drunk in public and resisting arrest. Lopez was then informed that Honeycutt and Herring had been in an altercation. Ofc. Lopez then went with Sheriff Deputy Gill to Honeycutt’s home.
Once Lopez and Gill arrived at Honeycutt’s home, Lopez retrieved the weapon, a karambit knife, considered one of the world’s most deadly tactical knives. Lopez read Honeycutt his Miranda rights and arrested him.
Honeycutt told Lopez what happened. He was getting ready to leave the bar when Herring walked up, called him Dennis, and begin swinging his fist three times, hitting Honeycutt twice and his girlfriend Franz twice. The first blow struck Honeycutt. The second blow went off Honeycutt’s cheek and hitting Franz, the third strike hit his girlfriend Franz. Honeycutt then pulled out his karambit knife and went straight for Herring’s neck slicing Herrings neck.
Mr. Honeycutt never stated to Lopez that he was getting beat on the back of his head. There were no visible signs of redness, swelling, or bruising on Honeycutt or his girlfriend, Franz. Mr. Honeycutt did not state he was in fear of harm. Mr. Honeycutt stated to Lopez he needed to check on Herring but the bouncer would not let him. Mr. Honeycutt responded to the bouncer stating, “You don’t understand, I CUT THAT FOOL GOOD.”
The District Attorney in closing stated that the defendant used more force than reasonable; the defendant used deadly force, along with the location of the wound on the victim’s neck, this case needs to be decided by a jury trial.
Honeycutt’s Defense Attorney responded that Honeycutt has a heightened sense of awareness because of his employment at Pelican Bay State Prison; that Honeycutt warned the victim that he had an off duty firearm, that the defendant did not have a scale to use necessary force that he was defending himself and his girlfriend.
Judge Doehle determined there was probable cause to show defendant is held to answer each of the counts.
November 21, 2014, Honeycutt will enter his plea and the jury trial will be determined on that date.