Clallam prosecutor's mother ignores subpoena in double-murder retrial case
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Darold Stenson, right, sits with attorney Sherilyn Peterson during a status hearing on Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court in Port Angeles.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Deb Kelly's 89-year-old mother has refused to turn over a copy of a book manuscript she wrote on Darold R. Stenson's first trial on two charges of first-degree aggravated murder — despite being subpoenaed by Clallam County Superior Court.

The manuscript is central to a motion from Stenson's legal team that Kelly, the Clallam County prosecuting attorney, should be disqualified from prosecuting Stenson in his retrial, which is slated to begin Monday, on the same charges.

The subpoena was issued Sept. 6, and Kelly's mother, Sunshine Snyder of Maryland, was ordered to produce a copy of the manuscript by Tuesday's hearing.

Kelly had suggested in an Aug. 27 letter to Stenson lead attorney Roger Hunko that “this manuscript may be something you wish to pursue.”

Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor downplayed the importance of the manuscript and the validity of the motion Tuesday in the last motion hearing before Stenson's trial.

But Taylor said he expects the document to be produced by Monday, when jury selection begins at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard.

“The odds of there being anything in this manuscript which would justify disqualifying [Kelly] are very slim,” Taylor said.

But since the issue of the manuscript was raised, Stenson's defense team is entitled to explore it, he said.

“I have tipped my hand where I am leading, but I am not comfortable saying a motion is denied when we have a document that is available and is not being produced,” Taylor said.

“If there is no production of this document by the time we start jury selection on Monday, I am going to look at other measures to compel compliance.”

Taylor did not elaborate.

A change of venue for the trial was granted in April.

It is expected to last five to six weeks — but may last longer.

Kelly probably will ask for an extended break during the proceedings to examine reports from expert witnesses for the defense, to review them with her own experts and to interview them, she said.

Kelly had not received those reports as of Tuesday's hearing.

“I will likely be asking for a break in the trial for a period of several days,” she told Taylor.

Taylor said Kelly has “an absolute right” to interview the expert witnesses and conduct her review.

Stenson is charged for the second time with murder in connection with the March 1993 shooting deaths of his wife, Denise, and his business partner, Frank Hoerner.

His 1994 death-penalty conviction was overturned in 2012 by the state Supreme Court.

Clallam County's cost of retrying Stenson hit $546,499 as of Aug. 29, county officials have said.



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

Last modified: September 10. 2013 6:37PM
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