Date set for man's murder trial

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WALLA WALLA — A man facing murder and four other felony charges related to the fatal shooting of a rival gang member last year pleaded innocent Monday afternoon in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

Andres Solis, 20, is set for trial starting Dec. 17 on the charges of second-degree murder, felony riot and three counts of first-degree assault.

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.

Also at Monday’s brief hearing, Judge John Lohrmann reduced Solis’ bail from $250,000 to $100,000.

Solis’ attorney, Robin Olson, requested the amount be set at $50,000, saying that Solis is a lifelong resident of the area and had — at least before his arrest — a full-time job.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden opposed any bail reduction, arguing the initial amount was fair. “Mr. Solis is very much, heavily involved in gangs,” Golden said.

Lohrmann responded that $100,000 bail would be adequate to encourage Solis to stay in the area pending the outcome of his case.

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.

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

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