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If you or a loved one has been charged with a homicide crime by a district attorney’s office or United States Attorney, the most difficult challenge of your life is about to happen.
We understand  the professional and personal side of what you are facing and we are there to help. Experience counts.
What is a homicide?
Why a homicide team?

A homicide may include capital murder, first or second degree murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter. Our team has extensive experience with each of these crimes.

Any attorney who has ever handled a homicide knows they are the most complex criminal cases. They are factually dense and carry the most severe of penalties to include death by lethal injection. You are facing the enormous power of the state or federal government, sometimes both. And you are facing a prosecutor who will use all the resources at their disposal to make sure they win.


These circumstances call for experienced, aggressive attorneys with access to the very best investigators and experts to uncover and exploit every weakness in the prosecution’s case. As three attorneys, we aggressively litigate with three times the effort than the state. We work with investigators who make our clients their priority ensuring the defense case includes an exhaustive unpacking of each lead usually uncovering evidence the prosecution hoped we wouldn’t find. Finally, we have access to the very best defense experts in every field.

Who are we?

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Attorney Erik

A former Deputy District Attorney with more than twenty-five years experience, Professor Bruce earned his law degree from the University of San Francisco and his PhD in Legal and Constitutional History from the University of Texas. Supported by state-of-the-art research technology, Bruce has successfully handled more than 5,000 cases.

Attorney Eric Bergstrom

Attorney Eric Bergstrom is an established comprehensive criminal defense lawyer serving Siskiyou County since 1990. He and his staff specialize in defense against criminal charges such as DUI-DMV charges as well as drug charges. Mr. Bergstrom is a member of the State Bar of California and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He is a two-time past president of the Siskiyou County Bar Association.

Lead Investigator
Rob Shelton

Rob Shelton earned a bachelor degree from California State University in Criminal Justice and is a former peace officer with over 16 years experience at the Federal and County level.  He is a licensed private investigator with over 13 years experience in criminal defense investigations and was the lead investigator in more than 12 homicide cases in Siskiyou County.

Experts in the following fields:
  • Change of Venue

  • Ballistics

  • Eye witness Identification

  • Immigration consequences

  • Alcohol and drug consumption

  • Accident reconstruction

  • Mental health

  • Forensics

  • Accounting

What are the defenses to a homicide?

Each case is fact specific and requires the presentation of a custom defense tailored to achieve the best results. Common defenses that our team has presented include:

  • Lack of sufficient mental state or intent.

  • Self-defense of yourself or another.

  • Defense of your home or property.

  • Accident.

  • Heat of passion.

  • Making a citizen’s arrest.

  • Preserving the peace.

  • Killing not criminal.

  • Provocation.

  • Voluntary intoxication.

  • Lack of deliberation or premeditation.

  • Lack of intoxication (vehicular manslaughter).

  • Performance of legal duty.

  • Lack of causation.

  • Reasonable doubt.

What is a special circumstance?

Often the facts of a case or simply prosecutorial discretion allows the charging of a crime with special circumstances. To receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP), the state must prove, in addition to your guilt, that the crime also include one or more special circumstance. In California, the potential allegation of special circumstances are:

  • Murder for financial gain

  • Multiple murders,

  • Murder to prevent arrest or complete escape

  • Murder of a peace officer, federal officer or firefighter

  • Murder of a witness, judge, prosecutor, government official or juror

  • Lying in wait

  • Murder because of one’s race, religion, or nationality

  • Murder during the commission of certain felonies

  • Murder with arson

  • Murder by torture

  • Murder by poison,

  • Murder committed during a drive by shootings

  • Killing by a gang member

  • Murder of a transportation worker

Why our homicide team?

Experience counts. As attorneys, we have combined more than one hundred years’ experience in the practice of criminal law and have handled every type of homicide. The first thing we will do is sit down with you and your family to develop a plan of defense with your goals the most important element of this plan. We are responsive to your needs and will make your case our priority.


We have a lead investigator who with years of experience and the ability to find facts unknown to the prosecution. We have worked with our team of experts on prior cases and are always researching and testing new avenues of defense based on the latest scientific evidence and techniques.


We are one of the few criminal defense groups in California that personally use general aviation to come to you. We will fly our own personal aircraft to your town or city to make sure we stay in regular contact with you.


In short, we have dedicated our careers to defending clients charged with the most heinous crimes and producing positive outcomes. We care about you and protecting your rights. No matter where you are located, we provide a cutting-edge defense to all homicide charges.

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Serving Northern California and Southern Oregon with Offices in Yreka, California, Medford, Oregon and Santa Rosa, California

©2023 by Bergstrom & Bruce.

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