Date of double-murder Pierce retrial from Jefferson County to be set during hearing Friday

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK — A hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday to determine the date for a second attempt at a retrial for Michael J. Pierce after a mistrial was declared in July.

Pierce, 38, is accused of killing Quilcene residents Pat and Janice Yarr and setting their house on fire to hide the deaths March 18, 2009.

At today's hearing, Pierce will be in the secure section of the Jefferson County jail, 79 Elkins Road, which is not open to the public, while Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Sally Olsen will conduct the hearing from the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard.

The hearing will be conducted over a Skype connection, which provides audio and video that allows real-time interaction between both locations.

Members of the public who wish to view the proceedings must do so from the Kitsap County Courthouse, 614 Division St., Port Orchard.

The hearing is expected to take only minutes because the trial date is the only item to be considered, according to Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans.

While the trial will be held in Kitsap County, Jefferson County remains the court of record, with all motions and documents filed in Port Townsend, according to Jefferson County Superior Court Clerk Ruth Gordon.

A Jefferson County jury convicted Pierce in 2010 of two counts of first-degree murder, and Pierce was serving a life sentence in Walla Walla State Penitentiary when the state Court of Appeals reversed the conviction on a technicality July 17, 2012.

A retrial in Jefferson County in July ended in a mistrial after a juror recalled that she may have seen Pierce walking by the side of U.S. Highway 101 one evening, though she could not recall the exact date.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper granted a joint motion from the prosecution and defense for the mistrial July 22 and approved a change of venue to Kitsap County, a move that had been requested earlier by defense counsel.

Pierce remains in the Jefferson County jail.

The retrial in Kitsap County will proceed with the same attorney teams as the retrial attempt in Jefferson County: Rosekrans and Chris Ashcraft as prosecutors, and Richard Davies for the defense.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 19. 2013 7:00PM
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