PORT ANGELES — The only eyewitness to testify in the triple-murder trial of Dennis Marvin Bauer returned to the stand Tuesday morning and defended her evolving account of the homicides to authorities as the jury prepared to wrap up testimony before the holiday weekend.
Kellie Ann LeTellier said she had smoked methamphetamine and heroin 20 minutes before her arrest a month after the grisly homicides — the last time, she said, that she used drugs.
Her detox in the county jail generated a reaction akin to restless leg syndrome, “but all over your body,” LeTellier recalled under questioning from Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney.
“My memory didn’t make sense half the time,” LeTellier, 37, said of taking meth.
LeTellier is serving more than 33 years for the self-confessed Dec. 26, 2018, murder of triple-homicide victim Tiffany May, whom LeTellier has testified she shot in the back after Bauer threatened LeTellier with a gun. Then, LeTellier said, Bauer shot May four more times.
Bauer, 53, is facing three consecutive life terms if convicted in the murders of May, Darrell Iverson, 57, and his son, Jordan Iverson, 27.
LeTellier said the two men raped her and were killed in an act of revenge by Bauer and Ryan Warren Ward, 40.
Ward is serving three life terms after pleading guilty in the shotgun slayings outside Darrell Iverson’s Bear Meadow Road residence off Deer Park Road east of Port Angeles.
Ward referred to Bauer as his uncle in a probable cause statement but is not Bauer’s nephew, LeTellier testified Tuesday, calling the two fast friends who, after delving into their family tree, joked they could be cousins and told each other stories about what they did to those who crossed them.
“They were like two peas in a pod,” LeTellier said.
Following Tuesday’s testimony, Bauer’s trial is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. Monday.
LeTellier said she began staying at Bauer’s house on Lower Elwha Road on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation in late 2018. She had been homeless since May of that year.
“Eventually, when the weather got colder, every so often, a person has to close their eyes and go to sleep, and so eventually it became wherever there was a warm place to lay my head,” she said.
After Bauer offered to let her stay at his “farm” or “compound,” as the property has been described during the trial, he was generous and friendly, but she later grew afraid of him, she said.
“He was like family, I thought,” LeTellier said.
“In the beginning, that absolutely was what it seemed like. Then, over time, things changed, and I saw a different side.”
Ward and Bauer told her several times “things that they used to do to people,” LeTellier recalled. “I was scared to death.”
While at Iverson’s home the day of the murders, when everyone present was doing methamphetamine, LeTellier said she could not leave because the back door was locked and three of the four men in the front yard among Bauer, Ward and the Iversons were armed.
While standing on the porch, she said she could see Bauer and Ward, with Bauer armed.
“I was scared,” she said. “I was staring at someone who was pointing a gun at me. I had just heard a whole bunch of gunshots.”
May was screaming, LeTellier said, adding she was being yelled at to shoot May.
“I shot her,” LeTellier said, adding that May fell to the right.
Bauer then walked over to May and shot her four more times in the back, LeTellier said. On the ride leaving Iverson’s residence, LeTellier said Bauer talked about folding May’s body over in the shed, which was locked when authorities discovered her.
LeTellier said she was initially scared to admit to murdering May and repeatedly cooperated with authorities without receiving a cooperation agreement from the prosecuting attorney’s office.
She confessed Jan. 27, in her second interview with law enforcement, and eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for her testimony against Bauer and Ward.
“I wanted to do it because it was the right thing to do,” she said.
Devlin asked her why she did not implicate Bauer in the murders in 2019.
“I was scared,” LeTellier said. “I was just trying to pay for what I did. In the end, I realized that it would be a disservice in many ways to their families to not know what really happened.”
Unger has said Bauer was a bystander as Ward committed the murders.
LeTellier admitted she could have turned herself in on a drug-related warrant and received shelter, effectively not making LeTellier homeless when she decided to stay with Bauer.
LeTellier said she was afraid of going to prison if she acceded to the warrant.
For about a year, Unger said LeTellier “never pointed a finger at Mr. Bauer as pointing a gun at you.”
Unger recalled LeTellier’s words that it was “the absolute truth” that she had said she alone had killed May.
“And now you’re saying that wasn’t the absolute truth, is that what you’re saying?” Unger asked.
LeTellier said yes.
“So the absolute truth today was not the absolute truth back then, is that accurate?” Unger said.
“And it’s also not the absolute truth that you had absolutely nowhere else to go other than you didn’t want to go to jail correct?” Unger said.
“So jail was an option, correct?”
“Sure,” LeTellier responded.
LeTellier would have been warm, had food and addressed her drug problem, Unger said.
“You chose, instead of dealing with your [drug offense] sentence, to stay in a place where you felt unsafe, is that your testimony?”
“Again, yes,” LeTellier said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].