A Crescent City man who allegedly committed two violent crimes involving a hook and a handgun pleaded not guilty in court on Friday to all charges.
Michael Loftin, 31, is accused of putting an eel hook through a teenager's arm in May, shooting a man less than a month later and then going on the run for two days before he was found under the backseat of a car in the Denny's parking lot. Loftin pleaded not guilty in Del Norte Superior Court to two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of unlawful firearm activity. His hearing is due for setting a trial date on July 14. Currently he's in custody on $250,000 bail.
The setting date was scheduled for July after the court appointed Loftin a new lawyer, local attorney Michael Riese, who said he needed time to review the case in order to advise hisclient appropriately.
Loftin, who waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days, made an outburst in court about not wanting to be "stuck in jail for two or three years" while waiting on a hearing date. Deputy District Attorney Todd Zocchi then requested that statements at the hearing go into the court record, but Loftin didn't say anything else after that.
"We'll defend this case vigorously in court and see where the evidence takes us," Riese said.
Loftin, who was arrested earlier this year in connection with an RV fire in Crescent City, began his latest stint of problems when he was arrested on May 6 for allegedly stabbing Elijah Salcedo, 19, through the arm with an eel hook.
He allegedly cited Salcedo "burning feathers," a cultural insult, as the reason for the attack, according to Police Sgt. Erik Apperson.
According to Apperson, the eel hook found at the scene was actually more like a sharp, wooden-handled rod than a hook. He said it was several inches long and was used for stabbing, not hooking.
"That was more of the injury - more of a puncture wound than slicing," Apperson said.
Salcedo was treated and released the day of the attack and identified Loftin as the assailant. Loftin was arrested the next morning for assault with great bodily injury likely.
Loftin stayed in jail until May 9, but according to Sheriff Dean Wilson he was released because he hadn't been arraigned yet. By law a person can only be held for 72 hours without being arraigned.
Less than a month later on June 3, witnesses reported that Loftin got into a verbal argument about a truck with Ronnie Meyer Sr. and pulled a small caliber handgun and fired it one time, shooting Meyer and landing him in critical care with a deflated lung, according to Wilson. Wilson said that while Meyer went to the hospital, Loftin went on the run until authorities, responding to an anonymous call, caught up with him hiding under a baby seat and clothes in the backseat of a vehicle in the Denny's parking lot.
"I didn't think somebody could hide in such a small place, but he did," Police Chief Doug Plack said.