PASCO — Three men suspected of stealing boat motors in Pasco are facing Feb. 16 trials after pleading innocent to attempted first-degree theft.
Cesar Alberto Chavez-Verdin, 23, and Jesus Garcia, 21, both of Pasco, and Alberto Alejandro Pulido, 18, of Los Angeles, entered pleas Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court.
The men were arrested by Pasco police Nov. 19, after allegedly being caught stealing a boat motor at a Pasco home, police and court documents said.
Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond said investigators believe the three might be connected to a series of boat motor thefts in the area.
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More than two dozen boat motors have been swiped off of boats in the Tri-Cities this year, officials said.
Officers were called to a home on the 8600 block of Tottenham Court around 3 a.m., Nov. 19, after the homeowner confronted three men trying to steal his boat motor, documents said.
Officer Matt Nelson found a vehicle leaving the area, and when he stopped it, Chavez-Verdin threw two bolts out the window, documents said.
Chavez-Verdin was a passenger in the front seat. Garcia was driving, and Pulido was in the back seat.
Court documents state that an investigation revealed three suspects had been surprised after removing bolts attaching a Yamaha boat motor to a boat parked at the home.
The motor is estimated to be worth $5,500.
Garcia was positively identified by the homeowner, and the other two suspects matched descriptions he provided to police, documents said.
The bolts that had been tossed from the car also were identified as those missing from the boat.
Pulido and Garcia were not in custody Tuesday after each posted $2,500 bail. Judge Robert Swisher agreed to release Chavez-Verdin on his own recognizance because he had no prior felony history.
Lower bail denied for gasoline bomb suspect
PASCO — A Connell man accused of throwing a gasoline bomb at a Pasco home in October had his request for reduced bail denied Tuesday.
Luis Enrique Blanco-Gomez, 19, has been in the Franklin County jail since his Oct. 3 arrest on suspicion of arson.
Blanco-Gomez is charged with first-degree arson, attempting to elude police and minor driving after drinking; his bail is set at $250,000.
Defense attorney Shelley Ajax told Judge Robert Swisher her client requested the bail be set at a more reasonable amount.
Blanco-Gomez lives with his mother and 12-year-old sister and his mother relies on him to help watch his sister, Ajax said. He also has a job and has lived in Connell for most of his life, she said.
Deputy Prosecutor Tim Dickerson said he felt bail was set at a reasonable amount given Blanco-Gomez's criminal history and the seriousness of the offense.
"He's a known gang member ... (and) he is a menace to the community," Dickerson said. "He tried to burn down a house with a family inside."
Judge Swisher agreed $250,000 was appropriate because of the "very, very serious" charge.
According to court documents, Pasco police were called to a home on the 200 block of West Bonneville Street at 10 p.m. Oct. 2 for a report of an arson.
Officers smelled a strong odor of gas and found a broken living room window and scorch marks on the siding. They also saw a broken beer bottle with liquid inside in front of the house.
Witnesses said they were inside the home when they "heard a boom and saw flames," and ran outside to see two males running away.
A resident saw the suspects get into a car, followed them onto Highway 395 and pursued the car while calling emergency dispatch.
The car ultimately crashed on Blanton Road and Franklin County sheriff's deputies arrested Blanco-Gomez.
Blanco-Gomez's trial is set for Jan. 10.
Vehicular homicide trial delayed until January
PASCO — The vehicular homicide trial of a Kennewick woman accused of killing another driver in a head-on crash in Pasco has been postponed until Jan. 19.
Lori Ann Christensen, 47, had faced a Dec. 15 trial in Franklin County Superior Court for the Sept. 24 crash, but Prosecutor Steve Lowe said more time was needed to get reports and test results back.
Christensen is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with "disregard for the safety of others" when she pulled out of the Motel 6 parking lot onto Oregon Avenue and crossed the center line.
She collided with Orlando Abarca-Rivera's car, killing the 35-year-old Pasco man.
Christensen told police she had a couple of beers the night before, court documents said. A firefighter at the scene also told Washington State Patrol troopers he could smell alcohol on her, documents said.
Other indicators led troopers to believe Christensen was over the legal limit of 0.08 percent when the collision occurred, documents said.