A judge Thursday ordered the deposition of a Seattle doctor who will be out of the country and unable to testify when a Benton City teen goes to trial for the fatal stabbing of a disabled man.
Noel A. Gonzalez, 19, is scheduled to face a Benton County Superior Court jury Feb. 24 on one count of first-degree murder.
However, defense attorney Scott Johnson told the court he can't yet say if that date will stick.
Johnson argued the problem with doing a videotaped interview of the forensic pathologist before the defense has wrapped up its investigation is that more information and questions may arise.
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Dr. Carl Wigren is leaving Jan. 25 for almost seven months for a fellowship in New Zealand. He performed the autopsy on the victim, Michael Edwards.
Johnson said he is "continuing to develop impeachment evidence against Dr. Wigren." The lawyer wanted to know how he's supposed to further question Wigren when he's gone, and potentially violate his client's rights to a fair trial.
Johnson didn't go further into what the evidence is.
Judge Robert Swisher suggested Johnson look into a videoconferencing website like Skype, but the attorney said he didn't know how that would be presented to the jury.
As it is, Johnson has made it clear he's not yet agreeing to prosecutors using this deposition of their key witness in trial.
Gonzalez and co-defendant Noah M. Matlack are accused of stabbing Edwards, 55, with a knife several times late Sept. 8.
The killing allegedly happened in the parking lot of the Assembly of God church in Benton City. Edwards' body was dragged behind a shed, where it was found by a neighbor about eight hours later.
Wigren handled all of the homicide autopsies last year in Benton County.
Prosecutors have been hurrying to do the depositions before Wigren leaves. Gonzalez's case is the last one requiring approval by the judge.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; email@example.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer