PORT ANGELES — Prosecutors and defense attorneys tussled Tuesday over the framework within which jurors will decide the fate of accused triple murderer Dennis Marvin Bauer, even as additional witnesses have been subpoenaed to testify in the lengthy trial.
Following the expected completion of Bauer’s testimony Monday beginning at 9 a.m., prosecution witnesses will take the stand before the jury hears about 90 pages of instructions on applying the law to 19 charges against Bauer.
Bauer, 53, is charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder and 16 weapons charges in the Dec. 26, 2018, shooting deaths of trucking company owner Darrell Iverson, 57; Iverson’s son, Jordan, 27; and Jordan’s girlfriend, Tiffany May, 26, all slain outside Darrell Iverson’s Bear Meadow Road home.
“We do intend to bring on some rebuttal witnesses after Mr. Bauer is done,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza said as the 90-minute court hearing, held without the jury present, came to a close.
Five additional witnesses, including convicted murderer Kallie Ann LeTellier, were subpoenaed Tuesday to testify in the trial, which resumes Monday for a seventh week of testimony — eighth week of trial, counting jury selection.
“If we’re done Monday, I’m going to start reading these instructions,” Clallam County Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson vowed.
Ryan Warren Ward, 40, has pleaded guilty to the same charges as Bauer and is serving three consecutive life terms without parole in connection with the deaths.
LeTellier, 37, is serving 35 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in May’s demise in return for LeTellier’s testimony at Bauer’s trial.
During the hearing on jury instructions, Erickson repeatedly ruled against motions by Port Angeles lawyer Karen Unger, representing Bauer.
She let stand instructions regarding first- and second-degree robbery. First-degree murder can occur when someone causes the death of another while an accomplice or attempting to commit robbery.
Bauer said in testimony that he, LeTellier and Ward stole numerous weapons from Iverson’s home following the murders.
Unger said there was no evidence that the trio went to Iverson’s residence intending to rob anyone, calling it the prosecution’s theory. LeTellier testified they went to Iverson’s home to avenge her being raped, Unger said.
“I know we’ve been dealing with this sort of objection throughout the trial,” Espinoza responded.
“And the court has consistently ruled. That’s the whole purpose of why we got in the MoneyGram, we got in the whole issue with the drugs.”
According to testimony, the three victims and Bauer, LeTellier and Ward were heavy users of methamphetamine, and Bauer participated in the purchase of a Walmart MoneyGram, allegedly to purchase drugs.
“There is a jail call where Mr. Bauer himself says he thought they were going up there just to ‘whoop ass,’ and then to take drugs, which were still found in a safe. In fact … they came away with a mountain of stolen property including, in Mr. Bauer’s words, 25 firearms,” he said.
“I think there is enough evidence that the state should be permitted to present its case to the jury on felony murder.”
“I guess it will be up to he jury to decide whether or not there was sufficient evidence to support that theory,” she said.
Erickson expects to decide Monday on Unger’s motion that the judge reconsider denying admission of a letter as an exhibit for the defense.
It was written by LeTellier in June, telling Chief Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin that LeTellier wanted to withdraw her guilty plea.
LeTellier first told investigators that Bauer and Ward shot all three victims. In her plea agreement, she said she alone shot May.
During testimony, she said Bauer pointed a gun at her and ordered her to shoot May.
Bauer said in testimony last week that he did not take part in the killings and saw LeTellier shoot May several times.
He told investigators he was working as a commercial floor cleaner during the murders and lied to investigators out of fear Ward or a specific friend of Ward’s would hurt his family.
Unger said in the motion that LeTellier was silent about anyone other than herself shooting May until she wrote the letter indicating she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea.
“I believe that that letter is relevant and it goes to her motive to change her story,” Unger said.
Espinoza said the prosecuting attorney’s office will file an answer to the motion.
LeTellier changed her mind on withdrawing her guilty plea, Port Angeles attorney Stan Myers, who represented LeTellier, said later Tuesday.
“She was just hearing people in prison telling her things that were not accurate,” Myers said, adding he assumed they included the falsehood that duress, or pressure, is a defense to murder.
Myers said the duress defense would apply, for example, if a person breaks into a wilderness cabin when the only other choice is freezing to death.
“That is not available in a murder case,” he said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].