Cantu to take plea in murder case


Murder defendant George Rodriguez Cantu opted to take a plea deal less than two weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin in Pendleton.

Cantu, 24, of Walla Walla, appeared via video from jail for a hearing Thursday at the Umatilla County Courthouse. His attorney, Robert Klahn of Pendleton, told the court a settlement had been reached.

Neither Klahn nor Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus revealed the terms of the deal.

Circuit Judge Christopher Brauer set the plea hearing for 9:30 a.m. Friday. He also asked Primus to call the jail so Klahn could have after-hours access to Cantu.

Cantu has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, unlawful use of a weapon against another, unlawful discharge of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm. Murder carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.

The charges stem from the July 2015 drive-by shooting death of Guadalupe Jose Diaz in Milton-Freewater. Cantu has been in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, since March 2, 2016.

Court documents show prosecutors were ready to bring gang members and shooting eyewitnesses to testify at the two-week jury trial.

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