PORT ANGELES — One of two men charged in a post-Christmas 2018 triple murder is expected to proceed to a six-week trial beginning Nov. 30.
Lawyer Lane Wolfley, representing Ryan Warren Ward, 38, of Port Angeles, and Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, told Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson on Friday they had agreed to keep the trial date. A status hearing was set for Sept. 25.
The other man charged, Dennis Marvin Bauer, 51, of Port Angeles, is scheduled for trial Jan. 4, two years after the shootings.
Devlin predicted in a May 22 status hearing that 500 potential jurors would be called for the case against Ward.
“Based upon publicity, we think that it will be an issue that we will need a lot of jurors,” she said in the hearing.
“Did you say 500?” Erickson said.
“Yes ma’am,” Devlin responded.
Devlin said in an email Friday that she still intends to request impanelment of about 500 potential jurors to ensure a an impartial group that can serve for a six-week trial.
“The decision is the court’s,” she said.
Ward, Bauer, and a third person, Kellie Ann LeTellier, 36, were each charged in January 2019 with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder with firearm enhancements in the Dec. 26, 2018, shooting deaths of trucking company owner Darrell Iverson, 57; Iverson’s son, Jordan, 27; and Jordan’s girlfriend, Tiffany May, 26, at Darrell Iverson’s Bear Meadow Road home.
Letellier pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement in exchange for her testimony.
She is among 26 witnesses who will be called to testify in Ward’s trial, according to Devlin’s witness list.
Ward’s 15 charges include firearms-related allegations, trafficking in stolen property and possession of a short-barrelled shotgun. He is in the Clallam County jail in lieu of $3 million bail.
Bauer’s 19 charges include 16 firearms allegations. Represented by Port Angeles lawyer Karen Unger, he is in the Clallam County jail in lieu of $3.5 million bail.
The victims were found Dec. 26, 2018, at Darrell Iverson’s rural-area home on a 4.8-acre spread where drugs were trafficked and a surveillance system monitored people coming and going, according to the probable cause statement.
The victims were each shot multiple times, including once in the head, according to court records.
Devlin said May 22 that the review of 20 terabytes of surveillance — equal to about 10,000 hours of HD video, according to www.dropbox.com — had to be completed, prompting the need for a trial continuance to Nov. 30.
There also were 1,000 pieces of evidence that had to be examined for the case. It included DNA sought from hair recovered from May’s hand, according to court documents.
“The stuff from the crime lab is going well,” Devlin said at Friday’s hearing.
“We still have some surveillance we need. We are getting very close.”
Devlin said Friday in an email that all the State Patrol Crime Lab reports also have been received for the Bauer case.
Wolfley said after Friday’s hearing that the chance for a plea deal for his client is shrinking, estimating a 70 percent to 80 percent likelihood the case will go to trial.
While Ward, Bauer and LeTellier all allegedly participated in the shootings, “this would be characterized as every man for himself, as far as the defendants go,” Wolfley said.
Wolfley said he expects Ward will be one of 15-20 witnesses he will call to testify. He said he has not yet generated a witness list.
LeTellier admitted to shooting May as May ran from Iverson’s house, according to a probable cause statement by county Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Eric Munger.
She told Munger about a car ride with Ward following the killings during which she said Ward discussed his role in the murders.
“Ryan made comments something to the effect that he did not want to be involved in the killings, but the Iversons were both still alive after being shot by Dennis, and he had to finish them off,” Munger wrote.
Ward said he was at the house but “maintained that he did not shoot anyone,” according to Ward’s interview with Munger and sheriff’s office Detective Jeff Waterhouse, the statement said.
“Ryan gave a description of Dennis shooting Jordan and Darrell, and then Kallie shooting Tiffany,” the statement said.
Ward, the father of four children, was arrested under an unrelated outstanding warrant Jan. 23 by the U.S. Marshalls Service at the Lower Elwha Food & Fuel convenience store west of Port Angeles.
Ward, a “bill collector in the drug world,” according to a probable cause statement, was carrying a shoulder-holstered .45 caliber pistol registered to Bauer, according to the probable cause statement.
Five days after the shooting, Ward said in a text message to a person who will be called as a witness that “people were dead and he was nearly murdered himself,” according to the statement.
On New Year’s Day 2019, he texted the person, “I have to go to prison or disappear.”
The three bodies were discovered New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the father and son under a tarp outside Iverson’s home and the son’s girlfriend inside a shed, her body allegedly dragged there by Bauer after LeTellier shot her as she ran from Iverson’s house.
LeTellier would serve 35 years in prison in return for her testimony against Bauer and Ward.
According to a probable cause report that included interviews with 11 associates of Darrell Iverson, Bauer allegedly wanted to punish Iverson for Iverson’s treatment of LeTellier.
Jury selection for Superior Court and District Court trials has been moved to the Vern Burton Center to comply with COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions.
It allows for a higher number of potential jurors to be impaneled than in the smaller county courthouse courtrooms.
The facility has a capacity of 1,300 people but with the 6-foot social distancing rule can hold up to 90, city Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said Friday.
Superior Court Administrator Lacey Fors said there was room for 54 potential jurors to undergo voir dire, or questioning for jury service by the prosecuting attorney’s office and defendants’ lawyers.
If 500 jurors are called for Ward’s trial, “we’ll just do it in groups,” Fors said Friday.
The public can sit in bleachers that were not marked off for distancing for a prior jury impanelment, she said.
Delikat said Friday the bleachers would be taped Friday to allow 15 members of the public to safely observe future jury selections.
The bleachers can seat 30 under normal conditions.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].