PORT ANGELES — A murder trial for a Renton man accused of beating a woman to death near Blyn in February has been reset.
Alejandro Jesse Aguilera-Rojas, 23, had his three-week trial continued Friday from May 4 to Aug. 3.
Clallam County Superior Court remains open but trials have been postponed because of coronavirus precautions.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin said other factors led to the continuance.
“Covid-19 had a bit to do with it, however, it is a homicide case that just occurred a little over a month ago,” Devlin said in a Wednesday email.
“We are still in the process of exchanging discovery and awaiting results from the lab so neither party would have been ready to go to trial next month.”
Scientific evidence testing for the Rojas case is pending at the State Patrol crime and toxicology labs.
Several murder trials in Clallam County, including a quadruple murder from last July and a triple homicide that occurred in December 2018, have been delayed because of backlogs at the State Patrol labs, county Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols has said.
Rojas is being held in the Clallam County jail on $1 million bail.
Superior Court Judge Brent Basden scheduled Friday a pre-trial status hearing for Rojas on June 19.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Rojas beat 21-year-old Dioneth Lopez to death with a tequila bottle while they were on a U.S. Forest Service Road south of Blyn on Feb. 11.
Lopez’s body was found in a wooded area three days later.
Investigators said Lopez had threatened to expose her three-year romantic relationship with Rojas, a married man, according to the affidavit for probable cause.
Deputies were dispatched to an arterial off Forest Road 28 on Feb. 14 after a passerby reported seeing a woman who did not respond when the person called out.
“Upon arrival, deputies observed severe head trauma and multiple lacerations on the female, which led them to believe that she had died by homicide,” Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Brandon Stoppani said in court papers.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.