Friday, November 2, 2007

Russell Trial Updates

Fred Russell is being tried for vehicular homicide in the deaths of three WSU students in 2001. The trial has been moved from Whitman County to Kelso; Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier is presiding.

  • Russell trial begins in Kelso:
    Start comes 6 years after deaths, Spokesman Review, Oct. 16, 2007.
    It shouldn't be hard to find jurors untainted by publicity, judging by Mayor Don Gregory's reaction when told last week that an internationally watched trial is landing in his town, once known as the Smelt Capital of the World.

    "Holy Criminy!" he said. "I read the paper every day, and I'm totally oblivious to it."
  • Jury selection in Russell trial begins, Spokesman Review, Oct. 16, 2007.
    Defense attorney Francisco Duarte of Bellevue declined to reveal if Russell will testify. But the defense plans to challenge the competence of the crash investigation and the conclusion that Russell caused the accident.
  • Photos of victims OK'd in Russell trial: Judge's ruling pending on blood-alcohol tests, Spokesman Review, Oct. 17, 2007.
  • Ruling pending on blood-alcohol tests in Russell trial, Spokesman Review, Oct. 17, 2007.
  • Search for jury an ongoing process: Many already have opinions of Russell, Spokesman Review, Oct. 18, 2007.
    Attorneys are still hoping to get a jury picked today and start opening arguments. But under extensive questioning by defense attorney Francisco Duarte, jury selection has taken much longer than expected.

    Prosecutors, clearly frustrated, are juggling flight plans for the dozens of witnesses in the case.

    * * *

    Duarte, courtly and polite, continued to draw out potential jurors.

    "It probably hurts you a lot, though, it sounds like. … That took a lot of courage. … Tell me more about that," he told various jurors Wednesday morning. "Thank you for sharing that, you're very astute. … Can we talk?"

    Many have clearly warmed up to him.

    "You're a fine attorney," one man said to Duarte at one point. "I actually like you."
  • Jury chosen for Russell trial: Prosecutors win rulings on admissible evidence, Spokesman Review, Oct. 19, 2007.
  • Bartender testifies in Russell trial: Defendant caught error on tab, didn't seem intoxicated, he says, Spokesman Review, Oct. 24, 2007.
  • Crash scene described as Russell trial opens, Spokesman Review, Oct. 20, 2007.
    The prosecution in Fred Russell's vehicular homicide trial detailed a horrifying crash scene Friday, describing a roadway littered with flaming vehicles, dead college students and live victims trapped in the wreckage.

    The cause of that scene, according to prosecutors: Russell and the choices he made that night about how much he drank and how he drove.

    * * *

    His defense team agreed that the four-vehicle wreck was tragic. But it was an accident, not a crime, attorney Francisco Duarte told jurors. He suggested that the entire investigation has been a witch hunt that started that night, when in the minds of much of the Palouse region, Russell "became public enemy No. 1."
  • Survivor recalls night of crash: Jury somber during Russell trial testimony, Spokesman Review, Oct. 23, 2007.
  • Russell trial focuses on driving, AP (Spokesman Review), Oct. 26, 2007.
Mr. Russell's attorney, Francisco Duarte, is also a UW Trial Ad instructor.

(There are actually more stories, but I'm running out of steam. If you have access to LexisNexis or Westlaw, it will be quicker to follow the coverage there than digging around in the Spokesman Review's website.)

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