September 21, 1996 in City

Loukaitis’ Parents To Testify Judge Rules Against Dismissal Of Moses Lake Shooting Case

Associated Press
 

The parents of a youth charged with killing a teacher and two classmates will testify on behalf of their 15-year-old son, defense lawyer Guillermo Romero said Friday.

But that means the parents of Barry Loukaitis can also be cross-examined by prosecutors, Superior Court Judge Michael Cooper noted during a hearing.

Cooper also ruled against a defense motion to dismiss the case on grounds that Loukaitis’ right to a speedy trial has been violated.

“It is clear to me from the record that the state was ready to proceed at every instance,” Cooper said. “All delays were at the request of the defense.”

Those decisions cleared the way for the resumption Monday of a much-delayed hearing on whether Loukaitis should be tried as an adult. That hearing is expected to last about two weeks.

The hearing was halted in mid-August after Loukaitis’ public defender asked for more time.

Loukaitis is charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the Feb. 2 shootings at Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake. Killed were algebra teacher Leona Caires and students Manuel Vela Jr. and Arnie Fritz, both 14. He also faces one count of first-degree assault in the wounding of another student. Loukaitis was 14 at the time of the shootings.

If convicted as a juvenile, Loukaitis must be released when he turns 21.

Cooper did not decide Friday whether Loukaitis’ former lawyer must turn over taped conversations with Loukaitis shortly after the shootings.

The prosecution and defense agreed Friday that the tapes were a matter for the criminal trial and not the upcoming hearing.

Prosecutors are seeking the tapes of a 3-1/2-hour conversation that Loukaitis had with former attorney Garth Dano and Loukaitis’ parents in the Moses Lake Police Department shortly after the shootings.

A police officer has said the meeting was tape-recorded by Dano.

Prosecutors argue that there is no parent-child privacy privilege under state law. They contend that the presence of Loukaitis’ parents at the conversation between their son and Dano destroyed the attorney-client privacy privilege in that conversation.

Romero argued that while state law doesn’t specifically grant the parent-child privilege, common sense dictates that it exists in the case of a boy charged with a serious crime.

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