New trial scheduled in AmericanWest bank robbery

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WALLA WALLA — A new trial date has been set for the suspect in last month’s robbery of the Eastgate branch of AmericanWest bank.

Gabriel Cantu Leija, 34, of 613 Fern Ave., now is set for trial starting Feb. 17 in Walla Walla County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree robbery.

Leija earlier pleaded innocent and his trial had been scheduled to begin Jan. 26 with Judge John Lohrmann presiding. But Leija’s attorney, William McCool, filed a document earlier this month requiring that a different judge rule on matters in Leija’s case.

Judge Donald W. Schacht now will preside.

Police said Leija entered the AmericanWest bank at 1850 Isaacs Ave. about 10:40 a.m. Dec. 1. He allegedly demanded money and made off with more than $1,300.

Officials believe he left in a nearby minivan, the license number of which was turned over to police by a witness. That led authorities to Leija’s residence where the vehicle was parked. He was located at the home and later arrested.

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