PORT ANGELES — Statements that Ryan Warren Ward made to law enforcement officers after he asked for a lawyer last January will not be admissible at his triple-murder trial, a Clallam County judge has ruled.
Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson ruled Monday that Ward made an “unequivocal request for an attorney” prior to his 18-minute interview with Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Jeff Waterhouse and Detective Sgt. Eric Munger on Jan. 31 last year.
Defense attorney Lane Wolfley said Friday that Erickson’s ruling was “correct” and “reflects what the constitutional law is on this particular issue.”
“It comes as no surprise,” Wolfley said in a telephone interview.
“Everybody will go forward with the case on the basis of the judge’s ruling.”
Erickson also ruled that prior interviews that the Sheriff’s Office conducted with Ward last Jan. 23, 24, 25, and 27 are admissible at trial. Ward’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 3.
“The court concludes that on Jan. 31, 2019, the defendant made an unequivocal request for an attorney, but that request was not scrupulously honored as required,” Erickson said in her written ruling, “therefore the defendant’s statements made to law enforcement on Jan. 31, 2019 are not admissible at trial.”
Ward, 38, is one of three people charged in connection with a Dec. 26, 2018, triple homicide east of Port Angeles.
He is charged with three counts of first-degree aggravated murder with firearms enhancements and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
Wolfley filed a motion last October to suppress the Jan. 31 interrogation, saying it occurred after Ward had asked for a lawyer.
A video recording of the Jan. 31 interrogation was played in open court during a state Rule 3.5 evidentiary hearing Dec. 17.
Ward could be heard on the video saying: “I’m being charged right now, so I’d like a lawyer.”
Munger interrupts Ward in the video, seeking clarification on whether Ward wanted an attorney.
“If I’m being charged,” Ward said in the video.
Ward was charged Jan. 28 in the shooting deaths of Darrel Iverson, 57, Jordan Iverson, 27, and Tiffany May, 26.
Also charged are Dennis Marvin Bauer, 51, and Kallie Ann Letellier, 35.
In a Friday interview, Munger said Ward’s fifth interrogation was a “unique situation.”
“It was one of those ones that could have gone either way,” Munger said of the court ruling.
“It was little bit unique because (Ward) and I were talking at the same time, and I didn’t hear how he made his attorney request.”
Ward had agreed to speak with deputies later in the interview, according to a transcript.
“No lawyer?” Munger asked Ward.
“At this point,” Ward said before signing an advice of rights and waiver of rights form.
Ward terminated the interview 18 minutes later.
At the Dec. 17 hearing, prosecutors argued that Ward had indicated that he wanted an attorney “if” he was being charged.
“As noted in State v. Pierce, that argument may have been persuasive if the defendant had not already been charged,” Erickson said in her ruling.
“As indicated, at the time of the Jan. 31, 2019 interview, the defendant had already been charged, and in fact, the reality that he had been charged was discussed at the beginning of the Jan. 31, 2019 interview.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].