Prosecutor: McCorkindale considering guilty plea in drug deal slaying

Tri-City HeraldDecember 13, 2013 

Robert McCorkindale mug

July 3, 2013 -- Murder suspect Robert McCorkindale, 24, waits to be called for his appearance in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick. He is accused in the death of Preston Yahne on June 14. McCorkindale entered an innocent plea.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

— The 24-year-old suspect in the June death of Preston Yahne has indicated he wants to plead guilty, a prosecutor said Friday.

A plea offer was made to Robert B. McCorkindale this week, Deputy Prosecutor Megan Whitmire said in Benton County Superior Court.

“We have been of the understanding that Mr. McCorkindale wanted to plead for some time,” she said.

Prosecutor Andy Miller is out of town at a prosecutors conference and was not at the hearing.

McCorkindale is set for trial Feb. 10 on one count of first-degree murder. He remains in jail on $250,000 bail.

McCorkindale claims on June 14 he met with the 22-year-old Yahne in a remote location for a drug deal, and the two men were waiting on another person when they got into an argument.

He said Yahne pulled out a box cutter and tried to stab him with it, but McCorkindale was able to disarm him before grabbing his own knife from a leg strap and hitting Yahne in the chest, according to court documents.

Yahne then tried to run away, but McCorkindale got into Yahne’s car and drove after him, running over the victim several times to make sure he was dead, documents said.

Yahne’s body was placed in his own trunk, and the following day the Dodge Avenger was driven to a gravel pit near Sunnyside and set on fire to dispose of evidence, prosecutors allege.

Investigators believe Yahne was killed within the Benton County boundaries before his body and car were taken to South Emerald Road, south of Sunnyside.

Yahne’s burned body was found inside the trunk days later by a tow truck driver. He was reported missing by his family on June 16.

Whitmire told the court Friday that while preparing a response to a defense motion, prosecutors learned a number of interviews done by the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office had audio and video that weren’t turned over in the investigation.

Benton County sheriff’s Detective Lee Cantu gave those to prosecutors Friday, and Whitmire said her office would make copies for the defense.

Also Friday, Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. directed the bicounty Office of Public Defense to assign a second attorney to the case.

Defense lawyer Alexandria Sheridan objected to the order, saying it potentially could interfere with the relationship she has with her client and could set the case up for ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal. She also pointed out that she has met every deadline in the case as set by the court.

“With all due respect, I find the implication that I need co-counsel on this insulting,” Sheridan told the judge.

Mendoza said he knows Sheridan is an experienced lawyer and he has “complete faith” in her skills. He added that he doesn’t want Sheridan to take offense to the order or for McCorkindale to be concerned about his lawyer’s capabilities, but said the court is more comfortable having a second attorney on a first-degree murder case.

The judge confirmed that he wants Eric Hsu, the indigent defense coordinator, to appoint co-counsel for Sheridan.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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