Nine times in the past five months, the three families have sat inside a Spokane courtroom, watching the lawyers and waiting for answers.
The same 15 to 20 people sit on opposite sides of the courtroom, always separated by the aisle like an invisible wall. The few words they say are never said to those across that aisle.
On the left side sit members of the Shaver and Moore families, relatives of Telisha Shaver, 22, and Jade Moore, 18, raped and beaten to death with a baseball bat last April in a Spokane Valley mobile home.
Another daughter of the Shavers, Venus, survived a beating in the same attack and is expected to be a witness.
On the right side sit relatives of the accused murderer, Dwayne A. Woods, 25.
Friday morning, the ninth hearing since Woods’ arrest, the families again gathered silently. They left 45 minutes later, still awaiting a trial and the delivery of justice.
Their common fear is facing another trial delay. Two have happened already, leaving the trial now set for March 18 in Spokane County Superior Court.
When that trial starts, Woods will face aggravated murder charges and a possible death penalty.
The emotions of those in the back of the room are always close to the surface.
“Even the judge is doing nothing here” to help resolve the legal delays, complained Dwayne Woods’ mother, Janet Woods, as she left court Friday.
At courtroom visits, Woods’ relatives cast him glances, nods of support. Since the crime, he’s been kept in solitary confinement in Spokane County Jail.
If they feel resentment, on the other side of the room family members sit almost numb from prolonged pain.
“It’s getting more difficult the more we come back to court,” said Melinda Moore, stepmother of victim Jade Moore.
“It’s a constant reminder. When you think you’re going to get on with your life, you come back and this makes it an open wound again.”
She and her husband, Barry Moore, usually sit in court next to Jade’s mother, Terri Moore.
For each person, the reason to keep coming back is different, said Barry Moore.
“For me, I have no choice. I have work and family things, but this has to be done. I need to be here,” he said.
If the families were expecting the pretrial process to move forward, the past week was a disappointment.
Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue ordered two pretrial hearings so that two new attorneys on the case had a chance to resolve matters that could cause later problems.
Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll has taken over the case, filling in for Kathyrn Lee. Lee had been in charge of major crime cases until poor health forced her reassignment a month ago.
Driscoll told Donohue that prosecutors cannot begin tests on blood and other crime scene evidence until next week.
Lee had earlier told Donohue and defense lawyers the DNA tests would be concluded by the end of October.
Now prosecutors say they should have DNA results by Jan. 1.
Taking over recently as Woods’ public defender is James Sheehan, replacing Gary Hemingway. Woods had criticized Hemingway in court for not moving his defense forward quickly enough.
Hemingway said family members can’t help but feel uncomfortable with a court process that is slow, complicated and, by necessity, cautious.
“For a case like this, it’s not unusual if it takes a year to bring it to trial,” Hemingway said.
“But they have to remember, nobody wants to decide this guy’s life in just 60 days.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo