Out-of-state witnesses called for Umatilla County rape case

Kenneth Eugene Christopher

The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office is compelling three witnesses to travel to Pendleton for the sex crimes trial of Kenneth Eugene Christopher.

One witness lives in Walla Walla and another lives in Touchet, Washington, according to court documents, and the third lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. Two of the witnesses are the women the state accuses Christopher of sexually abusing when they were underage, starting in 2009 in Milton-Freewater and ending five years later in Wyoming.

The district attorney’s office in March filed motions requiring the “necessary and material” witnesses to testify for the state.

Circuit Judge Lon Lieuallen signed certificates to have out-of-state judges compel the witnesses to attend the trial July 9-11 at the county courthouse.

Lieuallen also will hear all remaining motions in the case Tuesday.

Christopher pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of sex crimes, including four of first-degree rape, five of first-degree sexual abuse and four of first-degree sodomy. He remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, in lieu of $1 million bail.

He has been in the jail since May 3, 2017, making him the jail’s current longest-serving inmate.

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