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Trial of Oak Harbor murder suspects likely complicated

Hearings in Island County Superior Court Monday foreshadowed the likely complications with trying four defendants together for murder.

In November, prosecutors charged Brian Rayford, 20, David Nunez Jr., 19, Katana Hernandez, 19, and Derek Reeder, 16, as co-defendants in a single case.

The four Oak Harbor residents are each accused of first-degree murder, with a special firearms allegation, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Nov. 10 shooting death of 17-year-old North Whidbey resident John “Jay” Johnson.

They each were scheduled to appear separately before Judge Alan Hancock on Monday for their omnibus hearings, but instead the pre-trial hearings and trial date were pushed out two months.

The attorneys for Rayford, Hernandez and Reeder agreed to set the new trial date for March 22, but Nunez’s attorney, Jon Ostlund of Anacortes, said he won’t be available then.

Ostlund said that he plans to file a motion to sever so that Nunez will be tried by himself or with only one other co-defendant, adding that there will be “Bruton issues” to settle before trial. That refers to a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled that a co-defendant’s confession generally cannot be used to implicate a defendant in a joint trial.

In this case, several of the defendants did make confessional statements that may implicate their co-defendants, according to the detective’s report on the case.

The readiness hearings for the four defendants was set for Feb. 1. At that time the attorneys will discuss a new trial date.

 

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