Dennis Bauer

Dennis Bauer

Bauer murder trial starts Monday

Testimony begins Nov. 15

PORT ANGELES — Measures controlling the COVID-19 pandemic have played a role in delaying the triple-murder trial of Dennis Marvin Bauer six times.

The coronavirus will continue to hang over jury selection that begins Monday at the Vern Burton Community Center.

Seventeen charges have been filed against the Port Angeles resident, a commercial floor cleaner and convicted felon who turns 53 Tuesday.

They include three aggravated first-degree murder counts in the shooting deaths of Darrell Iverson, 57; Iverson’s son, Jordan Iverson, 27; and Jordan Iverson’s girlfriend, Tiffany May, 26, all of whom lived at Darrell Iverson’s home and were killed there the day after Christmas, 2018.

Each murder charge carries a 20 years-to-life prison term. Bauer also is charged with eight counts of illegally possessing a firearm and six of possessing a stolen firearm.

Bauer was previously scheduled to go to trial on March 30, 2020; June 8, 2020; Jan. 4, 2021; March 15, 2021; April 26, 2021; Sept. 27, 2021.

The Superior Court trial could last six weeks. Testimony likely will begin Nov. 15, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols said Friday.

Judge Lauren Erickson, granting a motion by Bauer’s attorney, Karen Unger, ruled Oct. 21 that only vaccinated residents will serve as jurors, eliminating a swath of the county’s population from deciding his fate. As of Friday, 70.3 percent of the population 12 and older were fully vaccinated. The ruling does not apply to witnesses.

“There have been many reasons for the trial continuances but most have had to do with the enormous amount of discovery involved, the large amount of testing that needed to be completed by the crime lab, the inability to speak with witnesses due to the virus and the suspension of jury trials in light of the pandemic,” Erickson said then.

Erickson was not sure Friday if potential jurors would be required to sign a statement attesting to their vaccination status when selection begins Monday.

“Due to the anticipated duration of the trial, and the current COVID-19 case rates, there is a strong likelihood that someone involved in this trial will either be exposed to or contract the virus,” she said in her ruling.

“Although not fully pre-emptive, the possibility of either of those scenarios occurring would be substantially reduced if only those individuals who have been vaccinated are allowed in the jury venue.”

Superior Court Clerk Nikki Botnen said 500 residents have been issued summonses for selection for cases spanning two weeks.

Potential jurors are being notified of the vaccination requirement for the Bauer trial when they call Superior Court’s jury line at 360-417-2450 for instructions.

“The jurors on the term of Nov. 8 through Nov. 19 in Groups One, Two, Three and Four who are vaccinated need to report on Monday, Nov. 8 at 7:45 at the Vern Burton Center at 308 East Fourth St. across the street from the courthouse,” the message says.

“Masks are required. If you do not have your own, we will provide one to you.

“Jurors who are not vaccinated need to call the message phone on Friday Nov. 12 after 5 p.m. for a possible trial starting on Nov. 15.”

Erickson’s vaccination order does not cover the 83 potential witnesses who could be called on by county Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza.

9,000 pages

The witnesses will be called to illuminate evidence contained in more than 9,000 pages of discovery.

Devlin was not available for comment last week.

“It’s likely the biggest piece of discovery we’ve ever had,” Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said last week.

“It has the most amount of information and items in evidence and volumes of information and pages of information that I’ve ever been involved in, investigative wise, in 25 years of policing in Clallam County.”

Hearing the witnesses will be 12 jurors and likely four alternates, Erickson said at a court hearing Thursday.

While 12 percent of residents 65 and older are not inoculated, overall the unvaccinated populations total 23 percent in Sequim, 42 percent in Port Angeles, and 60 percent in Forks, “which really explains the infection rate across the county,” Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said Friday.

Thirty-five percent of males and 26 percent of females are unvaccinated, with overall numbers updated this week, Berry said.

When potential jurors called the courthouse for instructions beginning this weekend, a voice message was to warn them they must be vaccinated if selected to determine if Bauer is guilty of 17 firearms and homicide charges.

When they arrive Monday at the Vern Burton Center for jury selection, they will be questioned by the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Unger for their suitability to serve in terms of such issues as their knowledge of the case.

Three murders

A relative of Darrell Iverson’s found his and his son’s bullet-riddled bodies late afternoon on New Year’s Eve under a tarp outside Darrel Iverson’s home at 52 Bear Meadow Road, east of Deer Park Road near Port Angeles, authorities said.

May was found shot in the back, lying in a locked shed.

The killings grew out of a plan by Bauer, Kallie Ann LeTellier, 37, and Bauer’s nephew, Ryan Warren Ward, 40, to rob Iverson, Devlin said at Ward’s sentencing.

Lettelier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May’s death under a plea deal that included 35 years in prison and her agreement to testify against Bauer and Ward.

Iverson, a reputed methamphetamine dealer, would use firearms as payment for drugs and would stash large amounts of cash throughout his home, according to a probable cause statement. Authorities said they found several of Iverson’s firearms at Bauer’s Lower Elwha Road home.

Bauer wanted to get back at Darrell Iverson for his treatment of LeTellier, with whom LeTellier had a relationship, according to a probable cause statement that said she later had a relationship with Bauer.

“The whole issue was that Dennis had a beef with Darrell over keeping Kallie and holding her as a ‘pet,’” according to an officer’s interview with Ward contained in court documents.

Testimony at the trial will include statements on events, remarks or evidence regarding the drug trade with guns used as currency; the sale of a murder weapon, the participants’ actions before and after the murders, and the rape of LeTellier, Devlin said in an Oct. 22 court filing.

Ward, sentenced to life without parole, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree aggravated murder and 16 charges related to the theft, sale or illegal possession of firearms.

Ward has been subpoenaed by the prosecuting attorney’s office as a witness.

“I don’t think he’s planning on testifying,” Port Angeles lawyer Lane Wolfley, who represented Ward in his murder case, said Friday.

Limited public seating will be available in the courtroom for the trial, which will not be made accessible to the public over Zoom.

Masks are required for superior court proceedings.

Erickson said as of Nov. 1, the state Supreme Court requires all Supreme Court employees to be vaccinated and is “strongly encouraging that all superior courts do the same.”

Unger said in her motion that while those involved in the trial “should have received a vaccination,” the same cannot be said of witnesses.

“The status of witnesses is more problematic, particularly the lay witnesses who will be called by the state,” she said.

“All in all, going forward and completing a trial with no interruptions seems nearly impossible. But the only way to be somewhat confident that the trial can proceed to a conclusion is to require all jurors to be vaccinated.”

Unger said Friday she did not know if Bauer would testify, adding a decision would not be made until after testimony begins.

“It depends on how things go,” she said earlier last week.

“We just need to get it tried. It’s been three years. I want to get this done.”


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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