Jurors will have the option of deciding if Jose Garcia-Morales helped his brother avoid arrest after gunning down a Pasco couple.
Garcia-Morales, 28, has been charged in Franklin County Superior Court since his arrest with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for the Dec. 10, 2008, shooting of Alfredo Garcia and Maria Ramirez de Garcia.
On Monday, Special Prosecutor Terry Bloor amended the charges to include two counts of second-degree assault for the couple's teen daughters who were in the east Pasco home at the time.
Bloor also added the crime of first-degree rendering criminal assistance as an alternative option for jurors if they find Garcia-Morales was not responsible for the shooting but did help his brother avoid arrest and hide evidence.
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Ramon Garcia-Morales, 31, was convicted last year of shooting Garcia, 42, and critically injuring his wife. He is serving a 67-year prison sentence.
Bloor and Amy Harris, both deputy prosecutors in Benton County, are serving as special prosecutors in the case because of a conflict with the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office. Jury selection for the trial starts March 21.
The rendering criminal assistance charge includes the aggravating circumstances that Jose Garcia-Morales demonstrated an egregious lack of remorse and caused a destructive and foreseeable impact on the victim's family.
All five charges include a firearm enhancement, which would add extra time to a sentence, if convicted.
Jose Garcia-Morales, 28, was in court Monday as attorneys worked on some pretrial issues, but he refused to listen to the court proceedings.
He walked into the courtroom -- in recent hearings he has been brought in on a wheelchair -- but he then proceeded to sit staring at the ground.
When his defense attorneys, Shelley Ajax and Moe Spencer, attempted to put earbuds on him so he could listen to court interpreter Ana Armijo, he moved away from them.
A corrections officer from the jail also tried to put the headset on him, but he again refused. Garcia-Morales then proceeded to sit with his fingers in his ear throughout the court hearing.
Armijo sat next to Garcia-Morales and continued to interpret the proceedings, even though he wasn't listening.
Judge Carrie Runge attempted to address him at one point to see if he wanted to testify during the hearing about whether statements made to police could be admissible at his trial.
Garcia-Morales did not respond to her questions.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org