Update: Jurors begin deliberating at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Watch for updates and breaking news email from KNDU & KNDO.
Unless there is a sudden, dramatic eleventh hour moment, it’s probably safe to presume Ramon Garcia Morales won’t take the stand.
For much of the past two years he has spent in the Franklin County jail, Morales hasn’t uttered a word to his defense attorneys or anyone else. Corrections officers lead him into the courtroom; Morales has his eyes shut, sits when he’s told to sit, and the bailiff puts in the earpiece for the Spanish interpreter.
And he sits there: eyes closed, head down, appearing to be off in his own world.
State psychiatrists have diagnosed him competent to stand trial for murder, and prosecutors and Superior Court Judge Vic Vanderschoor are convinced Morales has simply chosen to shut down and not help his public defenders one iota.
Morales has neglected his hygiene (at one point corrections officers bathed him before bringing him to court because he smelled). For the trial, his lawyers have changed him out of jailhouse garb into a shirt and a loosely knotted tie that hangs askew as Morales sits at the defense table, head bowed, eyes shut tight, unresponsive to anything said.
Any loud noise seems to go right by him.
Pasco police arrested Morales and his brother in December 2008 for shooting Alfredo Garcia. According to prosecutors, the brothers were angry because Garcia, a cousin by marriage and in charge of hiring farm workers, didn’t hire them. They went to his home to get the wages they felt they deserved. The conversation turned into an argument and the Morales brothers pulled guns and fired shots, reloaded and fired some more, killing Garcia and critically wounding his wife Maria. The Garcia’s teenage daughters watched it all, and testified at the trial.
As prosecutors today prepared to call their last witness, defense attorney Kevin Holt, gesturing at his uncooperative client and intimating the obvious, told the judge he would need some time to go over the evidence with Morales and ask him if he wants to testify in his own defense.
Barring a delay, and in this case that wouldn’t be unusual, the jury of nine women and four men (one alternate) could begin deliberating tomorrow.