Umatilla County Deputy District Attorney Dean Gushwa, left, questions lead law enforcement officer in the Rashan Brown murder case, Hermiston Police Detective Terry Rowan, right, before Umatilla County District Court Judge Jeff Wallace.

By Joyce Hensley

Staff writer

PENDLETON — A Umatilla County deputy district attorney told a jury Thursday that Rashan Sarad Brown and Travis Ray Powell were intent on murder and robbery the night two people were killed in Hermiston in December 1999.

The bodies of Victor Torres, 19, and Julie Wilde, 28, were found by a passing motorist around midnight on 10th. Street near Blue Mountain Community College's Hermiston branch campus.

Deputy District Attorney Dean Gushwa told the jury Tuesday that Brown and Powell were determined to find a drug dealer to rob and to kill.

Powell, convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, was sentenced November 2000 to 14 years in prison for his role in the double homicide.

"They chose a drug dealer to rob, because they are less apt to tell police they've been robbed," Gushwa said. "They killed them to leave no witnesses."

Susan Torre Hormann, criminalist for the Oregon State Police Crime lab in Portland and a DNA analyst expert, testified Thursday in Umatilla County Circuit Court that DNA collected from blood stains found on a pair of Brown's undergarments matched the DNA of one of the victims, Victor Torres.

She also told the jury that blood spots found in the car at the crime scene where Torres' body was discovered also matched Torres' DNA.

Don Weems, a friend of Julia Wilde, testified how he saw the victim for the last time when she left his trailer, then parked at Tom Able Farm's RV Park, around 10 or 10:30 p.m. the night before she was found murdered.

Weems said that during the days before Dec. 12, 1999, Powell and Brown had set up several meetings in various places around Hermiston with Weems and another person, his "connection," the one with the illegal drugs.

Brown and Powell were allegedly looking to buy drugs.

Powell and Brown either didn't show up for several of these drug-deal meetings, or the money wasn't exchanged for drugs because of suspicion on both sides.

"The drug transaction did not take place," Weems said.

This time, the evening of Dec. 11, 1999, they called Wilde from Weems' trailer.

Wilde called Victor Torres to go along. Torres was Wilde's "connection."

Weems' said he knew about the meeting, but didn't know where it was to be held.

On Wednesday, Clarence King testified that Brown paid him $20 to tell the police he had been at King's house all night December 12, 1999.

King went along with the plan until the police revealed that a double murder had taken place, then he told them about Brown's payment.

To prove his theory that Brown and Powell were out to rob people and then to kill them, on Tuesday Gushwa called Jose Andrade to the stand.

Jose Andrade testified that he had been approached by Brown a few weeks before the defendant was arrested to "rob someone and to kill him."

Andrade said that he did go along with the plan to rob a person called "Bob" of his drugs, but he backed out at the last minute.

"I was supposed to knock on the door," Andrade said. "When they opened the door, we were going to knock them to the floor, then kill everyone inside."

Andrade told the jury that he wanted to fight the guy (Bob), not kill him.

According to Andrade, the three of them, dressed in black clothing, hats and masks, went to the back of "Bob's" apartment complex.

"Rashan and Travis had a couple of handguns, they looked like automatics,"said Andrade. "I kept trying to think of a way out. I finally told them the guy didn't have any drugs and I was going home. Rashan said he was going in any way, and told me, ?You'll see me on the news.' "

The prosecuting team of Brauer and Gushwa rested their case Thursday afternoon.

Brown's defense team of Geoffrey Gokey and Duane McCabe, both from Bend, will offer the testimony of their witnesses Monday.

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