PORT ANGELES — A prosecutor grilled accused triple murderer Dennis Marvin Bauer last week in Clallam County Superior Court over his testimony that he didn’t shoot the victims but did nothing to stop the December 2018 killings.
“I had no choice,” Bauer said in Wednesday afternoon on the witness stand, alternately breaking down in sobs or chuckling.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin was questioning the 53-year-old Lower Elwha Road resident over the murders of trucking company owner Darrell Iverson, 57; his son Jordan, 27; and Jordan’s girlfriend Tiffany May, 26. They were slain outside Darrell Iverson’s 52 Bear Meadow Road home east of Port Angeles, all three shot multiple times.
His testimony closed out the fifth week of a trial that has presented competing testimony about who did what to accomplish the slayings three Christmases ago.
Consideration of jury instructions — without the jury present but in public — will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Bauer’s testimony is expected to continue Jan. 3 before Port Angeles lawyer Karen Unger, representing Bauer, and the prosecuting attorney’s office present their closing arguments.
In a twist late Wednesday morning that had the packed courtroom stirring, Unger called Bauer to the stand to make his case. She had said in her opening statement that Bauer was a bystander during the shootings.
Over the next several hours, Bauer changed his account from his recorded statements to investigators and in jailhouse conversations to associates, asserting on Wednesday he was present when the Iversons and May were gunned down.
Bauer had told investigators that on the day of the murders, he was at work, cleaning floors at a local Safeway. He said in phone recordings from the Clallam County jail that his son worked in his stead — something his son also said on the stand without knowing where Bauer was.
Bauer was heard in the jail phone recordings bragging he could prove to the jury that he was not present through falsified work records.
He said Wednesday that then-friend Ryan Warren Ward, 40, was the ringleader and killed the Iversons. Ward is serving three life terms after pleading guilty to the murders and to 16 weapons charges.
Kallie Ann LeTellier, 37, a girlfriend of Ward’s, is serving 35 years for second-degree murder for killing May. LeTellier made a plea deal for her testimony.
Ward and LeTellier lived on Bauer’s property.
According to another girlfriend of Ward’s who testified, Ward said Bauer killed Darrel Iverson and had Ward “finish Jordan off.”
LeTellier said they went to the Iversons to avenge her sexual assault by the Iversons, testifying Bauer pointed a gun at her and told her to shoot May.
Bauer testified Wednesday he drove his car to Darrell Iverson’s home at about midnight on Christmas 2018 at Ward’s and LeTellier’s request without knowing their intentions.
Bauer faces the same maximum sentence as Ward if found guilty of three counts of first-degree aggravated murder and 16 weapons charges.
He testified he did Ward’s bidding after Ward shot the Iversons and LeTellier shot May. Authorities estimate the time was between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. Dec. 26, 2018.
Bauer, who said he was heavily using methamphetamine over a breakup, testified that he froze with fear as he and Ward dragged May’s body to a shed.
He said he helped load two dozen firearms and numerous other stolen items from Darrell Iverson’s home, including surveillance equipment, into his Ford Taurus, then drove away.
“I was wondering really if I was going to get out of there, if I was going to make it out of there alive,” Bauer testified.
“I wanted to get home.
“I wasn’t going to tell them no.”
Bauer said he distanced himself from Ward following the murders.
Ward is “twice my size, at least,” carried guns, and was constantly using methamphetamine, he claimed, explaining why he feared him.
Using methamphetamine “made [Ward] 10 foot tall and bulletproof,” Bauer said.
Bauer is 6 feet tall, according to court records, and weighs 230 pounds, he said as Devlin questioned him about the threat posed by Ward.
Ward is 6 feet, 1 inches tall and 245 pounds, according to court records.
“I was afraid, afraid for my son and my grandson,” Bauer said.
Devlin focused on Bauer’s inaction at the murder scene and the following month before his arrest.
After Ward shot the Iversons, by Bauer’s account, Bauer did nothing to stop him, even after Ward swung the murder weapon into his hands, Devlin said. He did nothing to stop both Ward and LeTellier during and after the shootings while at Bear Meadow Road.
He agreed he loaded his car with stolen guns and property, drove away from the murder scene on his own acord and continued to allow Ward to live on his Lower Elwha Road parcel.
Bauer said Darrell Iverson’s son Dustin, during his testimony, mistakenly identified many items found at Bauer’s home as belonging to Dustin Iverson’s father.
Her voice rising, Devlin said Bauer did not offer “story number four” — that he witnessed the murders but was paralyzed with fright — until Wednesday.
“You don’t tell that story until today, do you, after you’ve seen all the evidence,” she insisted.
“I suppose, yes,” Bauer responded.
Devlin recalled Bauer’s description of Ward to investigators as “just a big kid” following Bauer’s Jan. 24, 2019, arrest, reading from a transcript.
“And then, further on, when asked about Ryan again, ‘I wouldn’t hang him for a [expletive] killer, he seems too jovial.”
“That’s what I said, yes,” Bauer responded.
Under questioning by Unger, Bauer described May as “a sweet girl, friendly to everyone.”
Bauer testified he had gone to Iverson’s home about a half dozen times to do methamphetamine with the Iversons and May.
Devlin quoted him in one phone call as describing May in derisive, profane terms.
“Is that the same sweet girl, is this [expletive] the same sweet girl we’re talking about?”
“Oh, OK,” Devlin responded.
Unger questioned Bauer a second time late Wednesday afternoon.
Bauer said he did not come forward with his new account because he was being “blackmailed.”
“I didn’t want to be a fourth victim,” he said.
“Ryan’s attitudes could switch in less than a blink of an eye.”
Bauer said Ward threatened him and his family following the shootings.
Bauer said that a friend of Ward’s could carry out those threats because the friend had seen what Ward was capable of and the friend “would do pretty much what Ryan asked him to do.”
Unger said the friend’s whereabouts is unknown.
Bauer said Ward and his friend were trying to rob the Iversons for “a bunch of heroin” and that Bauer never believed LeTellier was raped.
Bauer said he did not shoot Ward when he had the chance because when people take the law into their own hands, they end up in prison.
“For another thing, I don’t shoot people,” he said. “I don’t care if you hand me a gun or not. I’m going to put it down,” which is what he said he did the night of the murders, throwing down the weapon.
He said he heard shots near the door, turned around, and saw LeTellier carrying a rifle and following May, who was running backward. At least two shots were fired at May before she turned and ran, with LeTellier behind her, shooting at her as she fled, Bauer said.
He said he never expected the shootings to occur, which he agreed to Unger he made clear in the jailhouse phone calls.
“I wanted them to know I wasn’t a monster,” he said of the conversations, his voice cracking.
“I couldn’t go to the police. Because [Ward’s friend] was still out there. And Ryan was still there then.”
Asked about his derogatory recorded comments about May, Bauer said he hated being portrayed as a murderer and took it out on the victims.
“I was mad at everyone,” he said. “I wanted out of that jail.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected]