The attorney for the suspect in the November kidnapping and fatal shooting of a Kennewick woman warned a judge Tuesday that the defense may not be ready for a May trial.
Sam Swanberg was standing next to his client, Theresa L. Wiltse, when he said they’re still waiting on all of the reports and evidence in the case, including important lab results.
Swanberg said he wanted to make the record now that he may be asking for a delay in the May 22 trial at the next hearing.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Superior Court Judge Vic VanderSchoor, who has been assigned to preside over the case.
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Benton County Deputy Prosecutor Megan Whitmire said there is some “information coming from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab,” with the crime scene analysis under review right now. She said the office should be receiving that any day.
Prosecutor Andy Miller declined to seek the death penalty. If convicted, she faces life in prison.
Theresa L. Wiltse, 50, is charged with aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in the death of Sandra Harris, a Kennewick grandmother, last November.
The murder includes the aggravating circumstance that it happened “in furtherance of, or in immediate flight from” the kidnapping. Both charges also include allegations that a gun was used.
The Connell woman is accused of taking Sandra Harris from her home, killing her and leaving her body along a rural Benton County road.
Sandra Harris, a 69-year-old grandmother, called her husband to say she’d been kidnapped and the suspects wanted $250,000.
Wiltse was arrested late Nov. 18 after allegedly trying to collect the ransom.
Harris’ body was discovered Nov. 20 by a passing motorist on Coffin Road south of Kennewick, about two miles east of Interstate 182. She’d been shot several times.
Documents do not give a motive or show how Harris and Wiltse may have known each other. Randy Harris has said he believes Wiltse is a stranger with no connection to his wife.
Wiltse worked as a corrections officer in Walla Walla’s Washington State Penitentiary for two years. She now is being held in the Benton County jail without bail.