New trial date set in murder, assault case

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WALLA WALLA — This week’s trial of a man facing murder and four other felony charges related to the fatal shooting of a rival gang member last year has been postponed in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

Andres Solis, 20, had been set for trial starting Monday on the charges of second-degree murder, felony riot and three counts of first-degree assault.

But the proceedings have been rescheduled to begin Feb. 25.

Although Solis didn’t fire any shots that killed the rival in May 2011 in the west end of town, he is believed to have been the primary instigator of the confrontation that turned fatal, according to authorities.

Officials claim Solis and three of his fellow gang members arrived in the alley off the 300 block of Myrtle Street about 6 p.m. on May 17, 2011, to fight three rivals.

During the confrontation, one of Solis’ fellow gang members, Benito Gomez, 19, shot rival Julio Cesar Martinez, 20, twice in the head. Martinez died later that night at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

Gomez also shot at Martinez’s fellow gang members, Miguel Saucedo and Joseph Dejesus, as they fled from the alley into their apartment building at 331 Myrtle. No one but Martinez was hit.

At a trial this past June, a jury convicted Gomez of second-degree murder for causing Martinez’s death and six counts of first-degree assault for shooting at others in the alley and into the adjacent apartment building. Gomez later was sentenced to nearly 115 years in prison.

The murder charge against Solis accuses him of engaging in the crime of felony riot when Martinez was mortally wounded. The assault charges stem from shots fired at Martinez, Saucedo and Dejesus.

The charges were filed in late September and Solis was apprehended Oct. 14 outside his residence in College Place. He was released from the County Jail pending the outcome of his case after a bail bond was posted a month later.

If convicted as charged, he would face decades in prison.

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