COLVILLE – A Stevens County judge agreed Wednesday to another delay of the homicide-by-abuse trial of Carole DeLeon despite objections from the prosecution.
Superior Court Judge Al Nielson postponed the May 14 trial and reset it for July 16. He also indicated that he wants to bring in a jury from Okanogan County if the defense files a request for a change of venue based on media coverage of the case.
The trial originally had been set for last October, but was delayed by an election battle for Stevens County prosecutor.
DeLeon, 52, is charged in the January 2005 death of her foster son, Tyler DeLeon. She also faces a charge of criminal mistreatment of another boy who was placed in her care by the state.
Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich said he has interviewed about 26 of 40 of the state’s witnesses, but because of the amount of medical testimony he would not be ready to defend DeLeon next month.
“This is one of the most complicated medical cases that I have seen in many, many years,” said Oreskovich, who has already compiled a list of 102 potential witnesses. “I have a very complicated case to prepare, and I’m not ready to try the case on May 14. That’s the simple issue.”
Tyler died on his 7th birthday. He weighed 28 pounds, which was only a dozen more pounds than he weighed when the state placed him in DeLeon’s care when Tyler was 6 months old.
DeLeon is accused of severely restricting her son’s water and food intake to the point of locking the bathroom door at night and installing a baby monitor to prevent him and another child from getting drinks.
The other boy, who is the basis of the second charge, was removed from DeLeon’s care in 2004. Four months later, he had gained 18 pounds and had gone from being in the fifth percentile for height and weight to the 95th percentile for children his age.
Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said Oreskovich has had plenty of time to prepare for trial, which had already been delayed once, and accused the defense attorney of not filing motions or responding to prosecution motions in a timely manner.
“Mr. Oreskovich has been aware of the essential facts of the case for at least 25 months,” he said. “I urge you not to delay the case judge.”
Rasmussen said many of the witnesses are teachers, and a trial in the summer would disrupt many of their plans for travel and further education.
“The witnesses need to get this behind them not only for convenience reasons but also for emotional reasons for all these people who were touched by this tragedy in this case,” he said.
“Judge, I think this needs to be tried during the school year; otherwise it prejudices the state’s case.”
Nielson agreed with Oreskovich to postpone the trial but warned the attorneys that this would likely be the last time he would delay the case.