Trial date set in Walla Walla stabbings, shootings

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WALLA WALLA -- The second of two suspects arrested in connection with a bloody melee earlier this month pleaded innocent today to charges against him.

Jacihel Contreras, 25, of 420 N. Sixth Ave., was arraigned on two counts of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. A trial date of May 11-12 was set Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht.

Contreras and Fernando Saenz Jr., 22, of 440 Sprague Ave., were arrested in connection with the stabbing and shooting of four men outside a house on Center Street where a birthday party was being held March 13. At his arraignment Monday, Saenz pleaded innocent to five counts of first-degree assault.

According to police, Saenz and Contreras, who are alleged gang members, confronted a group of men with no known gang affiliation when the men dropped by the Center Street home to retrieve a coat for a woman who had left the party earlier.

Officials said Saenz stabbed four men as well as accidently stabbing Contreras. Two of the victims were allegedly shot by Contreras, who police said was armed with a handgun.

At Monday's arraignment, Schacht held off setting a trial date for Saenz until Contreras had entered his pleas. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden said today Saenz will probably have the same May trial date as Contreras.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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