Tre Arrow's courtroom defense strategy appears poised to cast doubt on his fellow environmental activists, who accused Arrow of helping blow up two logging trucks and a front-end loader near Eagle Creek in 2001.
In court documents filed March 4, Arrow's defense attorneys asked federal prosecutors to hand over cooperation agreements the feds struck with Jake Sherman, Jeremy Rosenbloom and Angie Cesario.
The three faced life in prison in connection with the Eagle Creek bombings. All three named Arrow in exchange for sentences of 41 months.
After nearly four years in Canadian prisons fighting extradition to the United States, Arrow ("Grooming an Elf," WW, Nov. 26, 2003) gave up that battle and returned to Portland on Feb. 29 to face charges in connection with the Eagle Creek bombings and a similar attack on gravel trucks in Portland in 2001.
The charismatic 34-year-old Arrow has been painted by the FBI as an "eco-terrorist" and now faces life in prison.
Arrow's supporters have long held there were large discrepancies in what his three college-aged accusers told investigators. Specifically, it's believed Sherman said Arrow masterminded the attack, whereas Rosenbloom and Cesario said Sherman was the leader.
Bruce Ellison, one of Arrow's attorneys, says no one knows for sure what the three said until the feds hand over several key documents, including papers that U.S. prosecutors filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
"I think that the Canadian documents do suggest some discrepancy," Ellison says.
Paul Loney, another Arrow defense attorney, questions whether the three accusers can be trusted at all, given that prosecutors offered them reduced sentences. "They had every incentive to name Tre," Loney says.
Arrow's attorneys also asked prosecutors in the new court documents to hand over "any psychological or psychiatric evaluations of Jacob Sherman from 2001 through the present." That suggests they may call into question Sherman's competence as a witness against Arrow.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer, the lead prosecutor, declined to discuss the case or to confirm whether any such psychiatric evaluations exist. U.S. District Judge James Redden gave Peifer until Thursday, March 13, to hand over the documents.
When Sherman was sentenced in 2003, his family and friends described him as a troubled young man whose family was struck by tragedy. When Sherman was 12, his mother—a police officer in training—was raped by a fellow cadet. His parents separated one year later.
Sherman's mother said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and depression. Sherman and his two siblings all went on medication for attention-deficit disorder, she wrote, and in 1999, when Sherman was 17, he went through drug treatment for marijuana.
Family members recounted how Sherman entered Portland State University, met Arrow and radically changed his lifestyle. He became a vegan, and ceased to bathe or wear shoes.
"It was like he was brainwashed," wrote Carol Culbertson, Sherman's grandmother. "Up until then Jacob would never think of damaging someone's property.… I feel Jacob is a fall guy for Tre Arrow."
Arrow is being held in Multnomah County Detention Center until his trial, scheduled for May 6. Read an update from Arrow written from his Portland jail cell at trearrow.org.