By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The state crime lab found a spot of what might be blood on clothing believed to belong to murder suspect Ryan J. McCarthy, but it’s so small that if they test it, there won’t be anything left for a defense expert to conduct its own analysis.
Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher filed a motion last week asking a judge to allow the DNA test, and allow the defense to have its own expert present when it’s done.
McCarthy, 29, and John Allen Booth Jr., 31, are former prison cell mates charged in the August 21 shootings inside a Salkum-Onalaska area home that left three people dead and one woman seriously wounded.
The pair are charged with murder and extortion in connection with the deaths of David J. West Sr. 52, his son David J. West Jr., 16, and Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle, at the West’s home. Booth is also charged with the attempted murder of 51-year-old Denise Salts who lived there.
McCarthy’s wife, according to charging documents, told detectives that on Aug. 21, her husband showed up at her workplace with a bag containing the clothes he had been wearing when she picked him up in Centralia about 2:30 that morning. She said she threw it into a dumpster. It was recovered by law enforcement, according to charging documents.
Meagher and lawyers for the defendants went before Judge Richard Brosey this week to discuss the proposed DNA test.
Six jail officers guarded the two defendants in the small fourth-floor courtroom in Chehalis during the proceedings on Wednesday afternoon.
The test will essentially consume all the trace evidence, Meagher told the judge.
McCarthy’s attorney, Rick Cordes, said he could bring in his own expert while it’s done. Brosey agreed with the arrangement.
Brosey also signed an order Wednesday allowing Booth’s fiancee Shawna Trent to get back her computer and an iPod seized by detectives.
Booth’s attorney, James Dixon, then asked the judge to lift a prohibition against any contact between Booth and Trent. She is listed as a witness in the case.
She is a longtime girlfriend of Booth, he told the judge. They consider themselves married, he said.
The couple underwent a religious marriage ceremony in June and had a date set for this month to do a civil ceremony.
Dixon noted a similar allowance was made for McCarthy and his wife, although she too is a witness.
Meagher opposed the request for visitation at the jail.
Brosey said he would allow telephone contact, as all phone calls from the jail are recorded. And he said he would allow visits, which are conducted through a video system in which inmates and their visitors are not ever in the same room.
The visits will have to be recorded and there can be no conversation about the case, the judge said.
A trial date has not yet been set for Booth, a former Onalaska resident.
Attorneys have a deadline at the end of March to file a “notice for special proceedings”. Defense attorneys are compiling a collection of information looking to show why the death penalty should not be sought for Booth.
McCarthy’s trial is scheduled for the week of April 18.
Both men have pleaded not guilty.
Read recent stories on the case:
“News brief: Springtime trial set for one defendant in triple homicide” from Thursday Nov. 18, 2010
“Attorneys ask for more time on decision about seeking death penalty” from Wednesday Oct. 20, 2010