Trial of man tied to murder case postponed

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WALLA WALLA — Scheduling issues have led to another postponement of the trial of a man facing murder-related charges in the slaying of a Walla Walla woman last winter.

Andres Torres-Rodriguez most lately was scheduled to face a jury in Superior Court beginning Aug. 18.

The proceedings are now slated to start Sept. 29.

Previous trial dates were set in March and June. But the prosecution and defense have said they need more time to prepare their cases.

The August start date resulted in scheduling conflicts, according to Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle. Also, the trial is expected to last two weeks, the second of which would be the week of the Walla Walla County Fair & Frontier Days. That might have resulted in difficulty seating a jury.

Torres-Rodriguez, 23, has pleaded innocent to first-degree murder by complicity, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

He’s being held in the County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Based on interviews with people who were at the scene of the slaying, officials allege that Torres-Rodriguez ordered murder suspect Carlos Valdez to kill 20-year-old Yesica Olivos because she owed Torres-Rodriguez an ounce of methamphetamine.

Valdez, now 18, allegedly shot her in the head sometime on the evening of Dec. 31 or early Jan. 1 on Frog Hollow Road where it turns into Mojonnier Road at the Walla Walla River Bridge.

Olivos reportedly had been hanging out with Valdez, an alleged gang member, and other affiliates for a couple of days. She and Valdez had traveled to Frog Hollow in a car occupied by three other people, including Valdez’s girlfriend, Breanne N. “Breezy” Rutherford.

Rutherford, 21, has pleaded guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance because she drove Valdez from the scene after the killing. Her sentencing is pending.

She, Valdez and Torres-Rodriguez were apprehended Jan. 7 at a Spokane motel.

Valdez’s first-degree murder trial is set to start July 29. He’s in the County Jail, with bail set at $500,000.

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

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