PORT ANGELES — Dennis Marvin Bauer’s triple murder trial has been moved from April to September, the second delay in as many months and the fourth since Bauer’s arrest in 2019.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson reset the start of the six-week trial from April 26 to Sept. 27, citing a medical issue, scheduling conflicts and logistical hurdles related to COVID-19.
“I’m trying to find a way to make this work for everybody,” Erickson said in an hour-long court hearing Tuesday.
Bauer, 52, is charged with three counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 18 weapons violations for crimes he allegedly committed on Dec. 26, 2018.
Previous trial dates had been set for June 8, 2020, Jan. 4, March 22 and April 26.
Erickson disclosed Tuesday that she had an unexpected medical issue that would interfere with her ability to preside over pre-trial motions in person.
“I know I was pretty hardcore about ‘We’re doing this on the 26th,’ ” Erickson said of the April date. “But then, now I have an issue.”
Defense attorney Karen Unger renewed a previous request for an October trial for Bauer.
“My client doesn’t mind continuing it to the fall, and by then COVID may be completely under control,” Unger said.
“Kids will be back in school. Parents will be able to leave and participate as potential jurors.”
All jury trials in Superior Court have been paused for COVID-19.
Only 94 of 500 potential jurors had responded to their summons for the first jury pool for March 29, Erickson said.
Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, reserved argument on the latest continuance Tuesday. Devlin has said she planned to call 90 witnesses and had nearly 9,000 pages of evidence.
Her co-counsel, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza, suggested an October trial for Bauer.
“It’s going to get rid of a lot of the barriers that we’re facing now, and possibly be less disruptive,” Espinoza said.
Courtrooms have been reconfigured for COVID-19 to ensure 6 feet of physical distance.
Erickson reset Bauer’s trial for Sept. 27 and scheduled his next court hearing for May 25.
Bauer waived his right to a speedy trial though Oct. 31. He is being held in the Clallam County jail on $3.5 million bail.
Bauer is charged with three counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 18 weapons violations for the Dec. 26, 2018, shooting deaths of Tiffany May, 26, Darrell Iverson, 57, and Jordan Iverson, 27.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said Bauer and two co-defendants — Kallie Ann LeTellier, 36, and Ryan Warren Ward, 39 — committed the murders before taking guns and other items from Darrell Iverson’s home east of Port Angeles.
LeTellier was sentenced last November to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement for May’s death.
Ward was sentenced last November to life in prison with no possibility of parole after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree aggravated murder and 16 other counts related to the theft, sale or illegal possession of firearms.
In addition to the murders, Bauer is charged with seven counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, six counts of possessing a stolen firearm, four counts of theft of a firearm and one count of unlawful possession of firearm parts.
He has pleaded not guilty to the 21 charges.
Bauer will make a general denial to the murders and claim duress to the weapons charges, Unger said in court Tuesday.
Devlin said the outstanding discovery included ballistics testing at a State Patrol crime lab, a download of Bauer’s computer and a review of transcripts from law enforcement interviews.
New subpoenas will be issued to 90 state witnesses.
“I can’t think of anybody I intend to call as a witness because the state’s list is just about everybody there is,” Unger told Erickson.
“I don’t have a smoking-gun witness.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].