Child murder defendant Evan Freel of Milton-Freewater could be heading to a conference to settle his case.
Freel, 18, had a courtroom appearance Wednesday morning in Pendleton before Circuit Judge Christopher Brauer. Defense attorney Kara Davis of Pendleton said she received the latest psychological report on Freel and considers the case ripe for an outside judge to oversee a closed-door settlement conference.
Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus did not object, and he and Davis agreed one day should suffice.
Just when, however, could be a sticking point. Primus and Davis square off April 30 to May 18 in the murder trial of Tyree Houfmuse of Hermiston. Davis and Primus said they have a meeting Tuesday with the trial court coordinator and the judge in that case to determine the viability of the trial dates.
Brauer told the pair of attorneys to work with this judicial assistant after that meeting to request a judge for the settlement conference. Until then, Brauer set March 14 for the pre-trial hearing for Freel.
Freel has pleaded not guilty to murder and first-degree criminal mistreatment related to the June 2016 death of his infant son. He remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton.
Manslaughter and arson defendant Angela Marie Fix, 41, of Pilot Rock also had a brief hearing Wednesday morning in Brauer’s courtroom. Davis is her attorney and said she finally received the state’s arson report and asked a local expert to help her understand the document. After that, Davis said, she would have a better idea if this case could reach a conclusion through a settlement conference.
Fix faces first-degree arson and second-degree manslaughter charges for the July 2017 death of Larry Castro, 77, at his Pilot Rock home. She is in the county jail.
Brauer set the next pretrial hearing in the case for March 14 as well.