A 39-year-old man was shot dead last month during a confrontation in a Kennewick driveway over owed money, court documents reveal.
Stephen E. Morfin allegedly told an acquaintance that he needed to contact Martin C. Ibanez about a debt.
That acquaintance, who is not named in court documents, told investigators that he rode in the passenger seat and directed Morfin to Ibanez’s location the afternoon of Sept. 11.
He said he heard gunshots while Morfin was out of the car, then quickly got behind the wheel when Morfin returned and drove away, documents said.
On Tuesday, Morfin, 27, was charged in Benton County Superior Court with second-degree murder.
The charge indicates the Pasco man did not plan to kill Ibanez when he drove to 1507 W. Seventh Place.
Ibanez was shot several times and pronounced dead at the hospital.
Kennewick police searched the victim’s cellphone, which revealed text messages from a Western Washington number about Ibanez owing money. Investigators learned the phone belonged to the man who came with Morfin to the house.
Records show the phone was in the area of the crime scene when Ibanez was shot, court documents said.
Detective Joe Santoy interviewed the man, who admitted sending the texts. The man said Morfin had asked him on Sept. 11 to take him to Ibanez, documents said.
The man claims Morfin picked him up in a white Chevy Impala. Once outside the Seventh Place home, Morfin got out of the Impala and went to the driveway, court documents said.
Ibanez, who lives in Franklin County, was visiting someone at the home.
The acquaintance told Santoy that after the shooting he and Morfin drove to a spot in Franklin County and left the Impala there. He said Morfin buried a handgun used in the shooting near the parked car, documents said.
In a later search of that property, detectives “saw a freshly dug hole.” The documents don’t say if the gun was found.
Morfin was arrested early Friday at a Pasco motel after Pasco officers saw two women driving an Impala into the parking lot. Police suspected Morfin was inside one of the motel rooms, and the Tri-City Regional SWAT team was called out to help with the search.
He ended up surrendering to authorities.
Morfin remains in the Benton County jail on $500,000 bail.