Suspect pleads in legal twist to aid prosecution of others

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WALLA WALLA — An alleged gang member accused in the shootings of two people in a vehicle this summer has entered into an unusual and complicated plea agreement that might help officials prosecute his co-defendants.

On the other hand, the arrangement might help the suspect demonstrate his innocence.

Cristian Bianey Jaimes, 20, pleaded guilty this morning in Walla Walla County Superior Court to a reduced charge of conspiracy to commit drive-by shooting.

Although the July attacks allegedly were witnessed by a confidential informant, Jaimes has adamantly denied being present or participating in the crimes.

In pleading guilty this morning, he made no admission, but acknowledged the prosecution has evidence that could convict him.

He initially was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree malicious mischief and one count of drive-by shooting.

If convicted of those charges, he would have landed in prison for decades.

But his case was reduced as part of the agreement between his attorney, William McCool, and Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle.

Under its terms, Jaimes will submit to a polygraph exam.

Should the test reveal he was not involved in the July shootings of Johnny A. Jimenez and his girlfriend, Tracy A. Diaz Bobadilla, he will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Nagle then will decide how to proceed with his case.

If Jaimes is lying about not being involved, according to the polygraph, or the results are inconclusive, he will be sentenced with a prosecution recommendation of time-served since his arrest Aug. 22.

The standard range he faces is 11¼ to 15 months of incarceration.

The polygraph reportedly will be conducted soon. Jaimes — who has no criminal history — was to be released from the County Jail today with standard conditions pending further proceedings.

Also under terms of the agreement, the defense will not seek the identity of the confidential witness.

Nagle said in an interview he agreed to the plea deal for several reasons. It continues to protect the witness’ identity, secures Jaimes’ guilty plea if he fails the polygraph, could help investigators probing the case and, if appropriate, narrow the list of suspects.

One co-defendant, Cisco Antonio Gonzalez, 18, was arrested the same day as Jaimes and is in the County Jail awaiting a Nov. 12 trial.

Two others — Carlito Angelino Garcia, 18, and 20-year-old Gerald Candelario Gonzalez Jr. — remain at large.

Each is accused of charges that Jaimes initially faced. Garcia and Cisco Gonzalez also are charged with first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because of their criminal records.

Officials say at least three of the four suspects each was armed with a handgun as they were riding in a white truck that arrived near Sixth Avenue and Moore Street early on the morning of July 20.

They then allegedly fired multiple times at Jimenez and Diaz Bobadilla, who were in Diaz Bobadilla’s 2007 Nissan Altima.

Jimenez tried to back up the car to escape the continued shooting and crashed into the building at 400 W. Moore St.

Those in the white truck fled.

Both victims were hit by gunfire. They were treated and released at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

A specific motive isn’t clear, although police said Jimenez affiliates with a rival gang.

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

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