Judge overturns own ruling on moving triple homicide suspect to different jail

Erickson sets matter to be discussed Friday in Clallam County Superior Court

PORT ANGELES — Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson has overturned her own Feb. 8 ruling that Dennis Bauer — one of three accused in a Port Angeles-area triple homicide case — should be transferred to another jail while awaiting his 2020 trial.

Erickson made the new decision Feb. 12 without a motion from the defense and set the matter to be discussed at 9 a.m. Friday in Clallam County Superior Court.

Bauer, Kallie Ann Letellier and Ryan Ward have all been charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the Dec. 26 shooting deaths of Darrel Iverson, Jordan Iverson and Tiffany May.

All three had been shot multiple times, including once in the head. The Iversons’ bodies were found New Year’s Eve under tarps and debris on the elder Iverson’s property at 52 Bear Meadow Road.

May’s body was found the next day in a locked shed.

Trial dates

Bauer is scheduled to have his trial March 25, 2020. Ward’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020, and Letellier’s trial is set to begin Jan. 6, 2020.

Bauer and Letellier remain held in the Clallam County jail. Ward has been transferred to the Jefferson County jail, according to Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols, but he remained listed on both rosters Monday.

On Feb. 8, Erickson ruled that Bauer and Ward should be transferred to other jails while the three await trial after Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin and Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez argued that having all three held in the Clallam County jail increases the risk that they could communicate before trial and that they could come into contact with witnesses who were described as “frequent flyers” at the jail.

Of the 32 potential witnesses identified in a probable cause statement, only six have not stayed at the Clallam County jail, court records said.

Defense Attorney Karen Unger, who represents Bauer, argued that by transferring him to a jail outside Clallam County it would make it difficult for her to adequately represent him. Unger said she would file a motion to reconsider, but that hadn’t been filed before Erickson overturned the decision.

Devlin on Friday filed a memo in support of transferring Bauer to a jail in “one of the two nearest judicial districts.” That would be either Jefferson County or Kitsap County.

The memo said that Bauer would be transported to the Clallam County Courthouse for all court dates requiring his appearance and that at the expense of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Unger could provide at least 10 days’ notice to have Bauer transferred to the Clallam County jail so they could meet in person.

“As indicated previously to the court, witness tampering and intimidation is a substantial concern in this case,” Devlin wrote.

In the memo, Devlin writes that there are also concerns because the superintendent of the Clallam County jail, Wendy Peterson, is Darrel Iverson’s sister.

Peterson wrote in a declaration that because she is related by blood to the people killed, she is also a victim of the crime.

“As a result of this unusual connection between Mr. Bauer and the Jail Superintendent, the State asks this Court to move Defendant to a nearby County jail,” Devlin wrote in a declaration. “Moving Mr. Bauer to a nearby County Jail will eliminate the possibility that should any harm or illness come to him while in the custody of the Clallam County Jail, said harm or illness be attributed to Ms. Peterson, the Jail, and, in turn, also attributed to or blamed on the Sheriff, law enforcement in general and perhaps, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

“This bad publicity, no matter how unlikely, might ruin the entire prosecution of Mr. Bauer due to some alleged prosecutorial misconduct.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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