Trial delayed in Center Street attack

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WALLA WALLA -- A trial for two suspects in a bloody, gang-related attack outside a residence on Center Street in March has been postponed a second time in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

The proceedings for alleged gang members Fernando Saenz Jr., 23, of 440 Sprague Ave., and Jacihel Contreras, 25, of 420 N. Sixth Ave., most recently had been scheduled to begin this Tuesday. But the start date is being delayed until Aug. 31.

Saenz recently was appointed a different attorney who needs time to prepare his defense. The trial initially was to begin May 11.

Five men were stabbed, shot or both during the melee about 2:15 a.m. March 13 outside 1306 Center.

Saenz, alleged to have been armed with a knife, is charged with five counts of first-degree assault. Contreras, who police say shot two victims, is accused of two counts of first-degree assault. He also faces a charge of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because he is a convicted felon. If convicted, both defendants could be sentenced to serve decades in prison.

Police said the violence broke out at a birthday party for a daughter of the woman renting the home. The daughter reportedly lived elsewhere.

The gang members were attending the function and apparently confronted a group of men -- with no known gang affiliation -- when they dropped by to retrieve a coat for a woman who had left earlier, according to police.

Officials said Saenz stabbed Juan P. Robles, 22; Louis Camargo, 42; and Alan Roblero, 22. Saenz also allegedly stabbed Contreras, his fellow gang member, apparently by mistake.

In addition, Roblero and his brother, Osman Roblero, 21, were shot, allegedly by Contreras armed with a semiautomatic handgun.

The victims were taken to area hospitals. Osman Roblero, the mostly seriously injured, was shot twice in the chest.

Saenz and Contreras still are incarcerated in the County Jail, with bail for each set at $250,000.

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