Hands clasped and bound by handcuffs, Carlos Valdez, 17, is led into Walla Walla Superior Court this morning by Probation Officer Frank Martinez for a first appearance on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Yesica Olivos, 20.
Photo by Greg Lehman.
WALLA WALLA — A teenager accused of killing a 20-year-old Walla Walla woman has been officially charged in the adult department of Walla Walla County Superior Court.
The case against Carlos Valdez, 17, which was filed in the juvenile department Tuesday, was required by law to be transferred to adult court because he will be 18 later this year and due to the seriousness of the first-degree murder charge against him.
The transfer was part of heavily secured court proceedings this morning at Valdez’s first appearance.
Judge John Lohrmann read Valdez his constitutional rights, appointed local attorney Robin Olson to represent him, and set bail at $500,000.
Valdez then was taken to the Walla Walla County Jail, where he will await further court proceedings.
If convicted as charged, he faces a standard-range prison term of 20-30 years.
Valdez, in addition to two defendants accused of involvement in the aftermath of the slaying of Yesica Olivos, were arrested Tuesday night at a Spokane motel after a standoff with law enforcement officials.
Valdez was brought to Walla Walla on Wednesday.
The other defendants — Valdez’s girlfriend, Breanne “Breezy” Rutherford, 21, of Richland, and Andres Torres, 23, of 120 Natches St. — are charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance. They are expected to be brought to Walla Walla today and booked into the County Jail, according to Sheriff John Turner.
Officials believe Olivos had been hanging out with Valdez, an alleged gang member, and other members and affiliates for a couple of days late last month when for some reason he shot her in the head on the evening of Dec. 31 or early Jan. 1.
The murder is believed to have taken place after Valdez, Olivos and three others — including Rutherford — traveled in a car to Frog Hollow Road where it turns into Mojonnier Road at the Walla Walla River Bridge, according to a Sheriff’s Office report filed in court.
An unnamed source who was sleeping in the car was awakened by a gunshot and saw Valdez drag Olivos to the edge of the road, the report says.
The source then reportedly looked away and doesn’t know what happened next except that Rutherford got into the driver’s seat, Valdez into the passenger seat, and they drove off.
Valdez later put the gun in Torres’ truck and asked him to “go back and make sure that (Olivos) was dead,” according to the Sheriff’s Office report. Torres then allegedly disposed of the murder weapon.
A passer-by came upon Olivos’ body Friday morning down a 25-foot embankment.
Turner said this week officials still are trying to determine a motive for the killing.
It could have been sparked by an argument, might be gang-related or brought on by narcotics use or trafficking, Turner said.
Valdez told Lohrmann in court this morning he lives with his mother in Royal City, Wash. But Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said Valdez apparently hasn’t been staying there, prompting Lohrmann to say he will require a valid address before Valdez is released if bail is posted.
Terry McConn can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8319.