PENDLETON - A trial date has been set for one of the men accused of invading a Hermiston home and killing one of its residents while wounding another in July.
Judge Garry Reynolds on Friday morning set Margarito Morfin's trial to begin Tuesday, April 5, 2005. The trial is scheduled to last up to eight weeks.
The 21-year-old Morfin, who is from Pasco, was arrested July 12 in connection with a home invasion robbery and murder on July 9 at 78765 Agnew Road, just outside Hermiston. The incident left Paco Chavez-Tena, 38, one of the home's residents, dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. Chavez-Tena's 16-year-old son, Oracio Bazon-Chavez, was wounded.
Another man, Ever Alex Flores, 24, also of Pasco, was arrested July 13 for his alleged part in the crime. Police are still searching for other suspects who may have been involved.
"We know who the suspects are and we continue to search for them," Brauer said.
Judge Reynolds gave Morfin's attorneys, Mark Rader of Ontario and Gordon Mallon of Burns, until Dec. 31 to file any remaining motions, which are set to be heard the week of March 14-18, 2005.
Morfin is charged with aggravated murder, two counts each of murder, attempted murder and first-degree assault, 11 counts of first-degree robbery, 22 counts of second-degree robbery and first-degree burglary. Flores was arraigned in July on the same charges.
Also on Tuesday, Mallon and Rader filed a motion to demurrer, which basically claims the indictment against the defendant doesn't state a cause of action.
"In a word, the state said this was poppycock," said Umatilla County District Attorney Chris Brauer. "The cause for action was murder."
Judge Reynolds agreed and denied the motion.
The suspects are accused of stealing an undisclosed amount of money and several cell phones from the Agnew Road home, in which 12 men lived. All the men were believed to have worked together in farming and had been recently paid.
Witnesses told police that "as few as two and as many as eight" masked and armed men invaded the home at around 2:20 a.m. Police later recovered a .22-caliber revolver in Pasco, which they believe to be associated with the crime.
Brauer said any connection between the suspects and the victims may come out over the course of a hearing or during trial, but would be "inappropriate for me to discuss those details at this time."