PORT ANGELES — Dennis Marvin Bauer’s lawyer is asking for more time to prepare his triple-murder defense while Clallam Country jury trials remain on pause for COVID-19.
Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson said Thursday she would take defense attorney Karen Unger’s request for an October trial date under advisement.
“I’m going to think about this,” Erickson said after expressing frustration about repeated delays.
Erickson also ruled in an evidentiary hearing that statements Bauer made to law enforcement during a Jan. 24, 2019, interrogation would be admissible at trial.
Bauer, 52, is charged with the Dec. 26, 2018, shooting deaths of Tiffany May, 26, Darrell Iverson, 57, and Jordan Iverson, 27, at Darrell Iverson’s residence east of Port Angeles.
The six-week trial, now scheduled for March 22, will be reset in a status hearing next Friday.
“That will give me some time to think about the continuance,” Erickson said.
All jury trials in Clallam County Superior Court are postponed though March 29 under an emergency order for COVID-19.
Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, requested an April 12 trial for Bauer.
“This case has been sitting for over two years,” Devlin said in court Thursday.
“The family and the survivors have a right to move on with their lives and not have to be continually reminded of this and continually reopen those wounds.”
Devlin said she planned to call 90 witnesses and had 8,883 pages of evidence.
“Nobody wants to get this case over with more than I do,” Unger said, “but I’m telling the court I am not prepared to go on April 12.”
Unger said the COVID-19 pandemic had interfered with her ability to meet with Bauer, who spent much of 2019 in the Kitsap County jail in Port Orchard.
Bauer is now being held on $3.5 million bail in the Clallam County jail, which had a COVID-19 outbreak Dec. 2. Lawyers must obtain permission from a corrections sergeant to meet with clients in the jail, Clallam County Sheriff’s Sgt. Don Wenzl said.
“I have no intention of faxing paperwork to the jail to give to my client because it’s nobody’s business what paperwork I go over with him,” Unger said.
“I do not believe that it has been unreasonable for me to refuse to go to a closed-in area where COVID is possible, both at my age and with the consideration of my family,” Unger added.
“It has not been safe, in my opinion, to visit someone in the jail.”
Bauer is charged with three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, seven counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, six counts of possessing a stolen firearm, four counts of theft of a firearm and one count of unlawful possession of firearm parts.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Bauer and two co-defendants — Kallie Ann LeTellier, 36, and Ryan Warren Ward, 39 — committed the murders before ransacking Darrell Iverson’s home.
LeTellier, 36, was sentenced last November to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement for May’s death.
Ward, 39, was sentenced last November to life in prison with no possibility of parole after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree aggravated murder and 16 other counts related to the theft, sale or illegal possession of firearms.
Bauer was previously scheduled to go to trial on June 8, 2020, and Jan. 4, 2021.
Erickson said the court had “always been ready” for Bauer’s trial.
“This is not the court continuing things,” Erickson said.
“Things are continued because the parties come to the court and ask that they be continued.”
“I’m not happy about this at all,” Erickson added.
Unger apologized to the judge for requesting a continuance in a Wednesday declaration.
“If this pandemic hadn’t happened, obviously this (trial) would have happened a long time ago,” Unger said.
“My access to my client would have been different.”
Jury trials in Clallam County Superior Court were closed early in the pandemic and reopened last July 6.
“They were open until Nov. 23, except for 10 days at the end of August,” Erickson said.
“Then Nov. 23, they were shut down for two weeks until Dec. 7, and then prior to Dec. 7, we shut them down through Jan. 19. Then because of the (COVID-19) surge, we closed them down to March 29th.”
Erickson found that statements Bauer made to Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Jeff Waterhouse and FBI special agent Ted Halla in January 2019 were made voluntarily.
While the interrogation was not played in court because of technical difficulties, Erickson said she had reviewed the video and a transcript prior to the hearing.
“The court’s going to find that his waiver of the (Miranda) right was voluntary and done knowingly and intelligently, and the statement is admissible,” Erickson said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].