Speedy trial waived by suspect in Walla Walla attack

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WALLA WALLA — A new trial date has been set for a man accused of participating in an attack on two pedestrians in the area of Chase Avenue and Maple Street early this year.

Juan Venegas Esquivel, 19, had been set for trial beginning Aug. 26 on Superior Court charges of second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and riot.

But he signed a waiver, filed Friday, of his right to a speedy trial, postponing the start date to Dec. 16.

Esquivel is accused of being among about 10 suspected gang members who surrounded William D. Hale Jr. and Kevin J. Reynolds and assaulted them as they were walking home from a local tavern about 11:55 p.m. Jan. 11. Shots from an air gun apparently were fired during the attack.

The victims tried to defend themselves. But Hale was hit and kicked in the head, suffering facial injuries, including a depressed fracture of a nasal bone. He also received treatment at Walla Walla General Hospital for a BB wound to his right hand.

Reynolds told police he was hit by several assailants.

In a subsequent interview with authorities, Esquivel admitted being at the location of the assaults, but maintained he walked away and didn’t hit the victims. He wouldn’t say who was involved, according to a police report filed in court.

Esquivel, of 815 E. Alder St., Apt. 3, told police he is not a gang member, but has hung out with members since he was a kid, the report says.

He was charged May 3 and remains free pending further court appearances.

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

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