Crime

Photos of victims shown to jurors in Ruiz trial

PASCO -- Pictures of four men slumped to the ground around a 1969 Mercury Cougar after being shot inside a Pasco garage were shown to jurors Thursday as the city's retired evidence technician described how she found the bloody scene 22 years ago.

One by one, Charlotte Supplee identified three dozen pictures she had taken on Oct. 13, 1987, with her 35mm camera.

Supplee, who testified Thursday in the Franklin County murder trial of Vicente Ruiz, said she had been shopping that evening for fabric to make a skirt when she was called to work.

She stopped by the Pasco police station to pick up her equipment, including "lots of film ... paper sacks, plastic bags, tape, staples, items to place evidence in, all sorts of packaging equipment." Then she headed to Medina's Body Shop with Sgt. Terry Trulson at 8:30 p.m.

Supplee had been told six men were gunned down less than two hours earlier, and at that point one had survived. She was told nothing about the suspects, but that wasn't her job, she testified. She was there to take custody of any found property and evidence and secure it in the city's evidence vault.

Some of that evidence was introduced Thursday as prosecutors try to show that Ruiz, 45, was one of two suspects who went into the business at 6:45 p.m., lined up the men and opened fire.

He is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with five counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

His trial started April 19, and the first testimony was heard Monday after seven weeks of juror questioning and delays while the defense sought to get the jury panel tossed out by the appellate court.

Ruiz's lawyers say their client is innocent and is the victim of mistaken identity.

Killed were: Misael Barajas, 22; Juan Antonio Lopez Garcia, 20; Eliceo Guzman Lamas, 20; and Rafael Parra Magallon, 22, all of Pasco, and Francisco Venegas Cortez, 21, of Kennewick.

Aldo Montes, 20, who also uses the name Jesse Rocio, survived a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Montes told police he dove underneath the Mercury but was still hit by a ricocheting bullet. However, Supplee acknowledged for defense lawyer Bob Thompson on Thursday that her pictures did not appear to show a blood pool or smears under the car where Montes may have hidden.

Supplee said she spent about an hour photographing evidence and the four bodies inside the shop, then she helped Trulson examine the clothing and contents of each victim for identification. She took more pictures of their wallets and loose change.

A total fo 14 shell casings were found in the shop area. DNA evidence wasn't then collected because the testing was not yet available, and Supplee said it was a "team decision" what to gather, and dusting for fingerprints on doorknobs and other surfaces was not on the list.

Paramedics who initially responded to check for signs of life left footprints in some of the blood, Supplee testified. A fifth man had been rushed by them to the hospital but died from his wounds.

The coroner arrived at 2:30 a.m. to remove the bodies, and she completed her crime scene investigation at 3:45 a.m., Supplee said.

Testimony continues today in a Franklin County courtroom.

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

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