Attempted murder trial pushed to March 2023

PORT ANGELES — Attorneys continue to seek mental health professionals to evaluate a Sequim man’s mental state after he allegedly attempted to kill his neighbor in late April.

Judge Brent Basden agreed on Sept. 9 in Clallam County Superior Court to push a Nov. 7 trial for 66-year-old James Donald Luoma to March 13, 2023.

Karen Unger, defense attorney, and Steve Johnson, deputy prosecuting attorney, agreed the trial would take about two weeks.

Luoma, appearing via video from Clallam County jail, said he understood and he waived his right to a speedy trial.

He was previously denied bail by Basden and pleaded not guilty of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

A status hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

Unger said she and Johnson have been discussing her intent to file for Luoma’s “diminished capacity defense,” and she’s been “vigorously attempting to get an expert [but] everyone is busy.”

She said Johnson has been “extremely understanding, and he knows the importance of finding the appropriate professional.”

“Also, there’s a lot of people who have a lot of information about this case that will have to be provided to the evaluator,” Unger said.

Johnson said with a new March trial, “that’s plenty of time to have Mr. Luoma evaluated and for the state to have its own expert, too.”

Luoma was arrested on April 27 near his home after he allegedly shot at and attacked his 49-year-old neighbor.

Sequim police said Luoma had sought a romantic relationship with his neighbor, but she that didn’t reciprocate. She sought a protection order but was unable to obtain one as she didn’t know his birth date, police report.

Police say in court documents that, later on April 27, Luoma walked to the neighbor’s home on the 700 block of West Heritage Loop, pointed a gun at her, fired and missed.

The neighbor ran to another neighbor’s garage and got into a struggle with Luoma, where he hit her head against a refrigerator and the floor, police say.

During the struggle for his gun, Luoma’s thumb was shot off, shortly before police arrived, according to court documents.

Sequim police said that in an interview Luoma told them he felt “so much anger” and betrayed for giving her more than $140,000.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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