State and local briefly

Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Murder defendants agree to July trial

JUNEAU - In Juneau Superior Court this morning, murder defendants Ronald E. Smith and Rey Joel Soto waived their right to a speedy trial.

Both Smith, 34, and Soto, 20, are charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree assault stemming from the death of Kenneth Thomas and the beating of Alfred Torres during a Jan. 25 robbery on Willoughby Avenue.

Appearing before Judge Larry Weeks, both defendants wore white body armor over their orange prison garb. Soto was not allowed to speak to five young women who told his lawyer they were present to express their love and support.

The order of the day was an omnibus hearing, but attorney Michael O'Brien, representing Soto, said he was not prepared.

``I don't think we are ready, from our perspective,'' O'Brien said. ``There is a loose agreement to put off this omnibus hearing for 30 days. We would also ask the court to reset the jury trial,'' O'Brien told Weeks.

Darryl Gardner, defense attorney for Smith, and Assistant District Attorney Sue McLean agreed the defendants could waive their right to a speedy trial. Weeks re-scheduled the hearing for April 24, and the trial for two weeks beginning July 10.

McLean commented that O'Brien wished to have items of evidence now at the state crime lab in Anchorage re-tested independently. She was still waiting for autopsy and DNA reports.

Both Smith and Soto remain in custody at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Local boy out of Anchorage hospital

JUNEAU - A Juneau boy injured last week in a fall from a second-floor window has been released from an Anchorage hospital.

The boy, 6, fell about 15 feet from a apartment building's hallway window on Northwood Drive in the Lemon Creek area about 4 p.m. Friday. The boy's mother was at home at the time. The boy's father was at work.

The boy had a closed head injury, and emergency medics suspected a skull fracture. He was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital and soon flown to Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage in critical condition, said Bartlett spokeswoman Marijo Toner.

The boy is no longer a patient at ANMC, said hospital spokeswoman Charmaine Ramos on Tuesday. Without a parent's permission, she couldn't provide any other information.

Police Sgt. Walt Boman said he did not expect any citations to be issued.

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