Convicted sex offender faces trial for alleged burglary, rape

A convicted sex offender who had been out of prison less than two months when he allegedly tried to rape a pre-teen girl in her home now faces a Sept. 12 trial.

Terry Michael Hoefler, 37, has pleaded innocent in Franklin County Superior Court to residential burglary and attempted first-degree child rape.

Meanwhile, his suspected accomplice in the early July 22 incident, Kable Lee Gunter, is charged with residential burglary in Franklin County District Court while prosecutors await crime lab results to decide if those charges should be amended.

Both men are in the Franklin County jail on $250,000 bail each.

According to Franklin County sheriff's detectives and court documents, Hoefler and Gunter, 38, were driving on Glade North Road with a woman when Hoefler's truck broke down in front of the victim's house.

Hoefler and Gunter reportedly went into the home, which is on the Oakdell Egg Farm, to steal several items while Tahti Tenita Dilkey waited in the truck. The suspects got inside through a door that wasn't working properly, Detective Jason Nuez said.

Dilkey told deputies -- who were called to the home at 2:19 a.m. -- that the men had been gone for about two hours when Hoefler returned, wiped any prints from the truck and told her he had been spotted by a girl, documents stated.

The 11-year-old girl had been asleep in her bed when one man carried her to the living room, put his hand over her mouth and told her to be quiet, court documents stated. The man then put a bag in her mouth and pulled off her pants, but she was able to scream for help when the bag eventually fell out, documents stated.

The girl's relatives were woken up by her screams and called 911 as the suspects ran from the home.

The victim was not hurt, Nuez said.

Gunter, of West Richland, was spotted by deputies while walking on Glade North Road, just south of Selph Landing. He was wearing shorts and a tank top.

The children in the home gave deputies a description of Gunter and identified him after his arrest, court documents stated.

Deputies found Hoefler several hours later hiding in an irrigation canal. He was wearing one of the girl's skirts, and some of the stolen items were found in the ditch near where he had been, documents stated.

A Level 3 sex offender registered in Mesa, Hoefler was released from state prison June 7 after doing time for attempting to elude police and possessing a controlled substance. His 1996 rape conviction involved a 23-year-old woman in Chelan County.

This new case could qualify as another strike under Washington's "three strikes" law.

While prosecutors are moving forward in Superior Court with their case against Hoefler, they are holding back for now on an attempted rape charge against Gunter.

"It's still a serious charge, we're just awaiting additional evidence from the State Patrol," Prosecutor Shawn Sant told the Herald.

Sheriff's investigators got help in collecting evidence at the scene from members of the Washington State Patrol Crime Response Team from Spokane and Olympia.

Sant said they can keep Gunter in jail on such high bail because residential burglary is a felony, even if it is being handled in the lower court. The case will remain in District Court while prosecutors make a final charging decision, he said.

An account was set up by the sheriff's office to assist the family.

A lot of damage was done inside the house, and the family doesn't have insurance or extra money to cover the costs of the repairs, Nuez said.

The account is at U.S. Bank. Donations can be made at any branch to "Family in need from Oakdell Farm."

Othello woman facing vehicle manslaughter charge out on bail

An Othello woman charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in a September crash that killed her passenger is out of jail after posting bail.

Alejandra Cardona, 26, initially was held on $25,000, but that later was dropped to $2,500 after Judge Craig Matheson decided she was not a risk to run and should be home with her kids.

Cardona has a Sept. 5 trial date on one count of vehicular homicide.

Lawyer Karla Kane, who was standing in for Cardona's court-appointed attorney Shelley Ajax, noted the delay in filing the charge in arguing for a lower bail amount.

The fatal crash on Highway 395 was Sept. 25, but the police investigation took more than seven months. Cardona was charged in May and arrested in late July.

Cardona wasn't in hiding but had been visiting family in Mexico before her arrest, Kane said. She has lived in Othello for 11 years and has two children, ages 5 and 6, who need her, especially as school is about to start, she said.

Matheson ordered Cardona to wear an ankle bracelet that detects alcohol use while her case is pending.

The system -- in this case known as Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or SCRAM -- samples a person's perspiration every 30 minutes to make sure they are complying with court-ordered sobriety. It must be worn around the clock and can't be removed without alerting officials.

Cardona was the driver of a 2002 Ford Explorer that rolled over and hit a light pole about 10 miles north of Pasco.

Passenger Aurora Del Pilar Bazan, 27, of Othello, was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the SUV. She died at the scene.

Cardona also was hurt in the 3:30 a.m. crash. At the hospital, a Washington State Patrol trooper detected an odor of intoxicants while talking to Cardona and ordered a blood draw. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.078 percent about 21/2 hours after the wreck. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com