Attempted murder trial postponed to November

Luoma attorney seeks ‘diminished capacity defense’

PORT ANGELES — A trial for a Sequim man accused of attempting to kill his neighbor could be delayed until at least November as his attorney seeks a “diminished capacity defense.”

In Clallam County Superior Court on Friday, attorney Karen Unger told Judge Brent Basden she intends to pursue that defense for 66-year-old James Donald Luoma.

Sequim Police arrested him on April 27 after he allegedly shot at and attacked his 49-year-old deaf neighbor. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

Luoma’s seven-day trial was set to begin on Monday, but that’s been postponed to tentatively begin Nov. 7 and extended to eight days.

A status hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 9.

Unger said she’ll need more time for an evaluation of Luoma as they pursue a “mental health defense.”

Luoma waived his right to a speedy trial, and Unger said “he understands the seriousness of this.”

Sarah Woolman, filling in for deputy prosecuting attorney Steve Johnson at the hearing, said the state wasn’t anticipating a mental health defense, so she said it might add another day to the trial date estimate, making eight days.

Woolman said she had no objection to Unger’s request to move the trial for the evaluation and felt the timeline for an evaluation was realistic.

At a June 3 hearing, Johnson said he didn’t believe the original trial date was realistic as so much discovery was still being gathered and turned in.

Previously, Basden denied Luoma an opportunity for bail.

Court documents state that Luoma sought a romantic relationship with his neighbor, but she didn’t reciprocate and she sought a restraining order.

On April 27, Sequim police reported that Luoma went to his neighbor’s house, pointed a gun at her, fired and missed. She ran into her neighbor’s garage where Luoma hit her head into the floor and fridge, according to court documents. His thumb was shot off in the struggle, police reported.

In a later interview with Sequim police, Luoma said he felt “so much anger” towards his neighbor because he felt betrayed; he said he had given her more than $140,000.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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