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Murder suspects slated for trial

"Three Whidbey Island men and one Edmonds woman held for the murder of Clinton resident Ed Ross on Oct. 10 will face a Cowlitz County judge and jury in January.In a pre-trial hearing Thursday, Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning said he will preside over the trial, which is scheduled to start on Jan. 31. Whether or not Warning would be able to try the case was in question earlier this week due to possible conflict of interest. Several years ago, Warning acted as a defense attorney for one of the murder defendants. If he had taken himself off the bench for the trial, Cowlitz County prosecutors would have had to look for another judge in another county, as the other three Cowlitz County Superior Court judges were rejected by the prosecution and defense.During the pretrial hearing, defendants Jesse Osalde, Angel Fernandez, Paul Sarkis, and TaLee Colter pleaded not guilty to the prosecution’s charges of first-degree aggravated murder, first degree felony murder, and first degree felony kidnapping. All four defendants will be tried at the same time. A motion by Colter’s attorney for a separate trial for his client was denied by Judge Warning.Ross was allegedly kidnapped from his car as he waited for a ferry in Mukilteo, and later taken to an isolated area on Cowlitz County and killed. Cause of death was multiple stab wounds.Prosecuting attorney Sue Baur said attorneys and defendants in the case will have to participate in several more hearings and motions prior to trial. The trial will take place in the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice in Kelso."

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