Crime

Stanfield murder plot suspect awaiting indictment

A Umatilla County grand jury heard evidence Tuesday about a Stanfield man accused of trying to plot the murder of his alleged sex crime victims while in jail.

The indictment against Arthur Wayne Blood, 32, was expected to be returned by the grand jury late Tuesday, but further details were not available.

Blood, who has a trial set in Umatilla County Circuit Court next week on multiple sex charges, pleaded innocent Monday to allegations that he tried to solicit people to kill the three victims so they couldn't testify against him.

He was charged with multiple counts of attempted aggravated murder, solicitation to commit aggravated murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and witness tampering.

Blood is expected back in a Hermiston courtroom Wednesday, where Circuit Court Judge Garry Reynolds is to decide if the murder-for-hire case will be joined with the sex abuse case.

The defense also is seeking to move the trial out of Umatilla County.

Reynolds heard arguments Tuesday on several motions filed by defense attorney Daniel Stephens, including a motion to reconsider suppressing videotapes that allegedly show Blood's sexual encounters with teenage girls.

Another judge previously ruled the videotapes could be presented as evidence, but Stephens asked Reynolds to reconsider the issue.

"I think the court simply did not make the correct ruling," Stephens said. "The videotapes were searched without a warrant. ... The tapes did not announce themselves. They were simply blank tapes."

The tapes were given to police by a victim in the case who is now Blood's wife, but Stephens said they were contained on Blood's side of the bedroom and his wife didn't have the authority to let officers search them.

Blood's wife had also abandoned the home and had a friend break in to get the tapes, Stephens said.

But Simonne Weyand, a Umatilla County deputy district attorney, said the court's ruling to allow the evidence should stand.

She said Blood married the victim after the tape was made and they shared the residence. Blood's wife wasn't living at the home anymore because she had moved to a domestic violence shelter, but she had a right to get the tapes, Weyand said.

"This victim had a right to stop the ongoing exploitation of herself," Weyand said.

Judge Reynolds said he'll review the previous testimony and opinion before making a ruling.

The two sides are expected to present arguments today about whether the sex abuse case and attempted murder case should be consolidated and if a change of venue should be ordered.

Stephens said his client can't get a fair trial in Umatilla County and also opposed joining the new case with the sexual abuse case.

Blood is ready to go trial next week, Stephens said, adding that "it's preposterous to think we'll be able to go to trial on an attempted aggravated murder case in one week."

Weyand said she thinks consolidation is "well founded" but wanted to wait to present specific reasons until after the grand jury heard the case.

Weyand also said she needed to wait to argue the change of venue motion, but noted prosecutors have uncovered information "about Mr. Blood's true intent for a change of venue."

Blood was arrested in January 2008 and indicted by the grand jury on multiple counts of using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, encouraging child sex abuse, sexual assault of an animal, sodomy and rape.

w Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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