Trial set in Worm Ranch stolen gun case

Carma R. Smith and Pastor Tapia-Nunez are accused of possessing a half-dozen guns stolen from the Walla Walla Worm Ranch.

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WALLA WALLA -- A trial set next week for two people accused of possessing six guns stolen in a burglary at the Walla Walla Worm Ranch in December has been postponed in Superior Court.

Carma R. Smith, 33, of 1610 Reser Road, and Pastor Tapia-Nunez, 23, of 125 S.W. 13th St., College Place, were scheduled to face a jury starting Monday. But the trial has been reset for May 11 and 12.

The defendants were arrested on warrants Jan. 7 in the 1600 block of Pleasant Street in Walla Walla. They're charged with possessing the stolen pistols and an amount of suspected methamphetamine in a vehicle Dec. 23. Smith also is charged with unlawfully having the firearms because she was convicted of a felony in 2002 for possessing more than 40 grams of marijuana.

The charges filed Christmas Eve stem from a traffic stop the previous day in the area of North Sixth and Rees avenues about 7:30 p.m. for a license plate light violation, according to a law enforcement report filed in court.

Police said the city's K-9 officer alerted to the presence of drugs in the Nissan Altima driven by Smith, but neither she nor passenger Tapia-Nunez would consent to a search. The vehicle was seized and a search warrant was obtained, but Smith and Tapia-Nunez had been released for lack of probable cause to hold them at the time.

The search uncovered seven handguns and a rifle. One of the pistols was fully loaded and located between the console and front passenger seat, officials said.

Six of the pistols were confirmed as having been stolen in the burglary discovered Dec. 15 at the Worm Ranch, 1186 Wallula Ave. In all, 25 guns were taken, according to the county Sheriff's Office.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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