Key witness in Darold Stenson retrial to testify on bloodstained pants

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ORCHARD — Darold R. Stenson's double-murder retrial continues this week with testimony expected from a deputy who was central to Stenson's original conviction being overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Sequim resident Monty Martin, a retired Clallam County sheriff's sergeant, is scheduled to take the stand as county Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly continues presenting her case for convicting Stenson on two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, Kelly said Friday.

Attorney Roger Hunko of Port Orchard, who heads Stenson's defense team, did not return calls about the case Friday.

Being held in Kitsap

The four- to six-week trial is being held at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard, where Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor is hearing the case after he ordered a modified change of venue from Clallam County.

Stenson is being held in the Kitsap County jail.

The Supreme Court overturned Stenson's two murder convictions in May 2012, ruling that a photograph of Martin wearing Stenson's bloodstained pants in 1993, when the murders occurred, was among photographs that were “wrongfully suppressed” by the state until 2009.

Stenson, convicted of killing his wife, Denise, and his business partner, Frank Hoerner, was sent in 1994 to death row at the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, where his demise was held up by appeals.

Stenson, 60, claimed he stained the pants by kneeling next to Hoerner's body.

Martin, the lead investigator in the case, said in a Jan. 8, 2009, affidavit that during an April 14, 1994, examination of Stenson's and Hoerner's clothing from the day of the murder, Martin put on Stenson's pants at the request of Rod Englert of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

Forensics test

They conducted the examination at the Intermountain Forensic Laboratories in Portland, Ore.

“I placed Stenson pants over my own trousers,” Martin said in the affidavit.

“No steps were taken to prevent transfer of material from my trousers to Stenson's pants.

“The pants were donned by me so that it could be determined whether any of the bloodstains on Stenson's pants could have been made by his coming into contact with Frank Hoerner's clothing.

Hoerner's body was found at Stenson's Sequim-area Kane Lane exotic-bird farm.

Stenson and Hoerner were business partners in the venture.

“This examination was made after Stenson retracted his initial statement that he did not touch or come into contact with Mr. Hoerner's body,” Martin said.

“Stenson's revised statement was that he may have knelt down to check on Mr. Hoerner, and that any blood transfer that may appear on his pants occurred at that time.”

The clothing worn by Hoerner and Stenson was spread out on clean paper on the floor of the laboratories.

“I knelt in Stenson's pants, and I believe that my knee contacted either the shoulder or arm of Mr. Hoerner's coat,” Martin said.

Review of investigation

Kelly this week will continue presenting her step-by-step, beginning-to-end review of the authorities' investigation of the murders to the nine-men, six-women Kitsap County jury.

The panel includes three alternates who will be named before jurors begin their deliberations.

Kelly said that this week, she may call Frank Hoerner's wife, Denise, to the stand.

The defense has suggested in court documents that Denise Hoerner should have been considered as an alternate suspect by the authorities.

“I personally feel disgusted the lawyers are attacking me,” Hoerner told the Peninsula Daily News on Sept. 15.

Taylor last week denied two motions by Stenson's defense team to subpoena Kelly's mother, Sunshine Snyder, 89, who wrote an unpublished manuscript about Stenson's first murder trial.

Taylor had ruled against defense attorney Blake Kremer's motion that Kelly should be disqualified from prosecuting the case because she revealed the existence of the manuscript Aug. 27, three weeks before the trial, and asserted she lacks impartiality and had a conflict of interest.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 28. 2013 6:21PM
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