Accused murder likely to have lesser charges dropped

PORT ANGELES — Lesser charges filed against an Agnew man accused of murdering his father and his father’s girlfriend are likely to be dismissed next week.

Christopher Haltom, 41, has been in custody at the Clallam County jail since March on the lesser charges. He has been set to undergo another competency evaluation at Western State Hospital to determine if he is fit to stand trial for the murder charges.

He also has been awaiting a permanent bed at the hospital since March, according to court documents.

He was charged with the first-degree murders of his father, Clay Lee Haltom, 60, and Bryana Eila Presser, 43, on Monday. Bail was set at $500,000.

Harry Gasnick was appointed his public defender. Next Wednesday, a court hearing will address the possible dismissal of lesser charges. Arraignment on murder charges is set for Dec. 9.

The convicted felon had been a person of interest in the murders since they were found shot dead on Feb. 24, Brian King, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office chief criminal deputy, said then.

Haltom was taken into custody soon after the murders on other felony charges which include possession of a stolen vehicle, second-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree burglary, second-degree malicious mischief, second-degree theft and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

These charges go back to the summer of 2021. Haltom has been in custody at Clallam County jail since March, after being released from Western State Hospital on his own recognizance.

Haltom has had several competency evaluations done since his initial arrest in July 2021, with at least two previous stints in Western State Hospital where he was diagnosed with unspecified schizophrenia disorder, bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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