Arguments begin in double-murder retrial

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ORCHARD — Arguments began in Kitsap County Superior Court this morning in the second retrial of Michael J. Pierce in the double murder of a Quilcene farm couple.

"The state believes all this evidence will show that Michael Pierce killed Pat and Janice Yarr," Jefferson County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Ashcraft told the jury in Judge Sally Olsen's courtroom during his opening arguments.

Pierce, 38, is accused of killing the Yarrs, for whom he occasionally worked, and setting their house on fire to cover up the crime on March 18, 2009.

His defense attorney, Richard Davies, argued that the state's case rests on shaky circumstantial evidence and the confessions of criminals who were jailed with Pierce after he was arrested for the crime.

Pierce's jailmate, Bradley L. Reynolds, dressed in a white dress shirt and khaki slacks, was the first witness to take the stand after opening arguments.

Reynolds is currently serving a nine-month sentence in Jefferson County after pleading guilty for failing to register as a sex offender.

Davies, in his opening statement to the jury of nine men and seven women, tried to discredit Reynolds' testimony by citing a deal Jefferson County prosecutors made in exchange for his testimony.

"His testimony is bought for," Davies said, "And it's bought for with a screaming deal."

Davies also said the state has no hard evidence linking Pierce to the crime, but Ashcraft said that's only because it was destroyed.

"In every episode of 'CSI,' there's DNA, there's a fingerprint. In this case, those things don't show up," Ashcraft said.

Pierce is facing charges for both murders — with firearm enhancements on each charge, first-degree robbery and burglary, theft of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree theft of an access device.

The Kitsap County trial is the second attempt to retry Pierce for the murders after a first retrial was declared a mistrial when a juror, Laura Meynberg of Port Townsend, revealed that she might have seen Pierce walking by the side of U.S. Highway 101 one evening, though she could not recall the exact date.

Pierce, who was serving a life sentence at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla when the state Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial after determining that statements he made to law enforcement officers after being arrested should have been suppressed.

Last modified: February 27. 2014 11:51AM
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