The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
the Times 

Orozco trial is delayed again

Lack of disclosed evidence pushes trial date to Aug. 12


DAYTON—Columbia County Prosecuting Attorney Dale Slack notified the public that the Benjamin Orozco murder trial has been re-set from July 8 to August 12, following a June 5 hearing.

In his update, Slack said that Division II Court of Appeals Judge George B. Fearing, who sat by special appointment of the Supreme Court, made the decision based on a lack of disclosed evidence from the defense.

Slack said that, prior to the afternoon of the hearing, the defense had not filed discovery, including witness lists, witness statements, expert witness reports and confirmation of the theory of defense.

“We have now been told that the Defendant will claim self-defense and are waiting the proper paperwork for that defense. Additionally, we discovered today the name and credentials of a defense expert witness, but have yet to receive a report showing his opinion and its biases,” Slack said.

Slack said that prosecution moved at the hearing to have any non-disclosed evidence excluded from use at trial, but acknowledged that caselaw is clear that exclusion is a last resort for failure to disclose.

“Instead the Court continued the case for one month so that the defense can completely disclose their evidence and our office can review and evaluate that evidence,” he said.

The trial has seen multiple delays and was last reset from March to July 8.

Orozco faces charges arising from the 1996 shootings of Lance Terry and David Eaton, who were shot in downtown Dayton. He is charged with second-degree murder for shooting Terry, who died from shots to the chest and abdomen, and first-degree assault against Eaton who sustained hand and knee injuries.

After the shooting, Orozco reportedly fled to Mexico where he lived until 2016, when he was arrested and held in a Mexican jail until his extradition to Columbia County. Since Dec. 2016, Orozco has been in a medical unit at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

“I’m disappointed the trial moved again, but I am glad it is only for a month this time; and hopefully it makes any verdict in the case less-susceptible to being overturned by the Court of Appeals. Judge Fearing made the decision in the case, so that gives us a little peek at what the Court of Appeals would likely have done if the trial weren’t continued,” Slack told The Times.

Pretrail and motions in limine will be argued on July 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the Columbia County Courthouse.


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