August 5, 2010 in City

Attempted murder charges challenged in Hoopfest case

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Defense attorneys told a judge Wednesday that prosecutors don’t have a legal basis for a long list of attempted murder charges levied against three of four men in connection with a shooting at Hoopfest that injured three bystanders.

Superior Court Judge Michael Price said that he is concerned the probable cause affidavit doesn’t support all those charges, including attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, but that he would allow attorneys to make their arguments later.

Charged in the case are Miguel C. Garcia, Adam Doe, both 19, Marquis D. Johnson, 21, and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 23. Johnson is in the Benton County Jail; the others remain in custody at the Spokane County Jail.

All four men were arrested July 26 after witnesses said Cage handed a gun to Garcia, who then fired three times, striking three bystanders at Hoopfest. They suffered minor wounds to the legs or feet. The shooting occurred after an alleged fight with a rival gang.

An off-duty Spokane police detective witnessed the shooting. The evidence also includes a civilian video of the altercation and shooting, according to court records.

As a result of the investigation, prosecutors charged the suspects each with two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder. Most of the victims are identified simply as “John Doe.”

Assistant Public Defender Kari Reardon, who is representing Cage, said the evidence only supports possible charges for three counts of first-degree assault and the single charge of riot.

Reardon said the court records do not list any basis for the two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and the attempted first-degree murder charges don’t have a basis because the victims were unintended.

“I’m challenging the probable cause to those issues,” she said.

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said the “theory” of his office is quite straightforward.

“When you point a gun at someone … what other intent do you have but to cause their death?” Garvin said.

Defense attorney David Partovi, who is representing Garcia, said after the hearing that under Garvin’s theory, prosecutors should have charged former Spokane police Officer Jay Olsen with attempted murder in connection with his shooting of Shonto Pete on Feb. 26, 2007.

Olsen “pointed a gun and pulled the trigger. He had a lot more premeditation and intent,” said Partovi, who noted that a jury acquitted Olsen on the grounds that he fired in self-defense at a man running away down a hill.

“They are sending a message,” Partovi said of the charges. “To me it’s so obvious I’m not even upset by it. They have an angry public to deal with. I understand that. But once they get held to the letter of the law, they will change” the charges.

Price accepted not guilty pleas to all charges from the three defendants.

He said he will allow the defense attorneys to make motions challenging the charges within the next 21 days. He set a trial date of Sept. 20 for Cage and Sept. 27 for both Garcia and Doe.


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