By Joyce Hensley
PENDLETON In exchange for reduced prison time, Margarito Morfin, 22, agreed Monday in a plea bargain to testify against three co-defendants in the July 9 ?home invasion' shooting death of Paco Chavez-Tena, 38.
Morfin sat calmly as he pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, first-degree assault, and 11 counts of robbery before Umatilla County Circuit Court Judge Garry Reynolds.
Three additional defendants have been lodged in the Umatilla County Jail and each charged with murder, as well as the attempted murder of Chavez-Tena's teen-age son, and the robbery of 11 victims who were in the home on Agnew Road at the time.
Morfin has also agreed to testify against another suspect in the murder, who, at this point, is still at large.
He could potentially serve a sentence of 25 years to life, as mandated by Measures 11, if convicted only of the aggravated murder charges.
In the plea bargain agreement, Morfin will serve 17 and one half years in an Oregon State Correctional facility for all 13 counts.
"It is a step in the right direction," said Umatilla County Sheriff's Detective Dave Williamson. "We still have four more, but I'm satisfied with the deal with Mr. Morfin."
Williamson serves as coordinator of the Major Crime Team's investigation of the murder.
Although Morfin was at the crime scene on July 9, the investigation by the Umatilla County Major Crime Team showed that he was the only suspect who did not enter the home, according to Brauer.
Morfin did supply the .22 caliber handgun allegedly used by suspect Ever Alexis Flores, who is believed to have actually pulled the trigger on the weapon that killed the victim.
Morfin, who waved his right to a speedy sentencing, will be lodged in jail until the cases of the four remaining defendants have been resolved before he receives his sentencing.
"He'll be waiting for his opportunity to live up to his part of the bargaining," said Brauer. "The expectation is that he will be state's witness in future trials of the other perpetrators."
Jesus Pineda-Cruz, 25, Ever Alexis Flores, 24, and Juan Carlos Solis, 24, are in jail waiting to face 12-person juries.
"Law enforcement officers have been working diligently to catch the fifth perpetrator," said Brauer.