PENDLETON — John McKenzie Mattila of Weston could have his hands free of cuffs for his manslaughter trial.
Mattila made his first courtroom appearance in the case Friday during a lengthy hearing to argue motions at the Umatilla County Courthouse, Pendleton, with Circuit Judge Jon Lieuallen presiding. Wearing blue jailhouse clothes, which note he is an inmate worker, courthouse security shackled Mattila’s legs and hands. That drew an objection from his attorney, Jody Stutsman Vaughan of Pendleton.
She argued Mattila should at least have his hands free to write notes to her during the proceeding, and if he acted out, courthouse security were just feet away. Deputy district attorney Daniel Pachico agreed Mattila should not have been in shackles, stating the court had yet to determine if there was a need for the extra security measures of the shackles.
But Lieuallen noted Mattila’s size — the Umatilla County Jail’s inmate roster states he stands 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 260 pounds — as well as his words and actions the night of his arrest Feb. 22 in the wake of a fatal crash.
Mattila refused to allow Oregon State Police trooper Jeremy Gunter to handcuff him and he threatened to fight police. And when Gunter allowed Mattila to see his son before going to jail, he shoved an officer aside and tried to run. Gunter zapped Mattila with a stun gun to put him on the ground and shocked him twice more to make him comply with putting on handcuffs.
“I’m not going to have fighting and rolling around in the courtroom,” Lieuallen warned before granting permission for Mattila to have his right hand free. The judge also said he was likely to let Mattila have both hands free at trial, but the leg shackles would stay on.
Vaughan also told the court she was concerned about the pre-trial publicity in the case. Lieuallen said he shared the concern and advised East Oregonian reporters to cover the case in a “professional manner.”
The judge noted nothing indicated the EO was not doing so already.
The state has accused Mattila, 24, of driving drunk the evening of Feb. 22 and killing Adelaida Solis Torres in a car crash on Highway 11 near Weston. She was 52 and worked for the Oregon Department of Human Services. She was driving a state vehicle at the time. Mattila has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, hit-and-run on an injured person, driving under the influence of intoxicants and more.
Vaughan filed several motions in the case, including to suppress the derogatory comments Mattila made about the victim and the assertion Gunter lacked probable cause to make the arrest in the first place.
She also filed a motion Thursday to push back Mattila’s trial date, which the court set for Nov. 4-8. Vaughan stated she needed more time for investigation. She also told the court Pachico does not object to the motion to delay the trial, but indicated that he would ask the court not to set a new date until after the defense stated it concluded the investigation.
The hearing plodded well into the afternoon, and Lieuallen had yet to issue rulings in the proceeding.