A Pasco murder suspect who indicated in a letter to a judge that he may want to represent himself at trial, decided on Friday to keep defense attorneys on his case.
Gregorio Luna Luna, 32, has written letters to Judge Robert Swisher asking for new attorneys and claiming that Karla Kane and Shelley Ajax are being negligent in representing him.
Swisher talked to Luna Luna about his concerns at previously hearings in Franklin County Superior Court, and on Friday he again asked Luna Luna if he still had concerns.
After talking to his attorneys for about 30 minutes, Luna Luna returned to the courtroom and told Swisher he has decided not to represent himself at his aggravated first-degree murder trial.
"I'm going to tell you Mr. Luna, you made a wise decision there," Swisher said.
Luna Luna is accused of fatally stabbing his son's mother at her Pasco home in May 2010. Griselda Ocampo Meza, 21, died on her way to the hospital.
The couple were together seven years when she ended the relationship in January 2010 and got a restraining order in March 2010 after a series of alleged assaults by Luna Luna.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty on the aggravated first-degree murder charge, so if convicted Luna Luna would be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
His trial is to start Feb. 13.
After Luna Luna's lawyers told the court that he is claiming self-defense, special prosecutors Andy Miller and Anita Petra argued that they will show the couple had a history of domestic violence.
Miller, the Benton County prosecutor, was appointed to the case because of a conflict with the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office. Petra is a deputy prosecutor in Benton County.
Earlier this month, prosecutors filed a motion to get confidential documents related to Ocampo Meza's possible visit to a domestic violence shelter in Richland. Swisher agreed to review the documents to decide if copies could be given to the attorneys.
On Friday, Swisher said he received documents from Domestic Violence Services and after reviewing them felt they were relevant to the case and could be provided to attorneys on both sides.
Although Ocampo Meza is dead, Swisher said he had to consider whether the value of the records outweighed her right to privacy.
"I think even in death, a person has certain rights to privacy. But in this case, the allegation is that the defendant was the one that killed her," Swisher said. "I think the probative value of the records in this situation does outweigh the victim's right to privacy."
Prosecutors also requested documents from Consejo Counseling & Referral Service. Ocampo Meza got help from a domestic violence advocate at Consejo and participated in a peer support group.
Swisher again will privately review the documents.
Also on Friday, Swisher decided not to move forward with providing a separate questionnaire to jurors with some hardship and medical-related questions that would be sealed after jurors answered them.
It was Swisher's idea to have the separate questionnaire that contained issues that some potential jurors may be uncomfortable answering and having available to the public.
Luna Luna, however, objected to sealing the hardship questionnaire even though he and his attorneys would have access to them if they were sealed.
"I recognize it's not Mr. Luna's absolute right (to have the questionnaires remain open to the public). It's my decision, but I will honor his request," Swisher said.