Rivas trial delayed again
MOUNT VERNON — The trial of a man accused of shooting a Mount Vernon police officer in the head in 2016 has been delayed for a 12th time.
Ernesto Lee Rivas, 46, faces 11 charges — including two counts of attempted first-degree murder — in relation to the Dec. 15, 2016, shooting of officer Michael “Mick” McClaughry.
His trial was scheduled to begin March 18, but it has been postponed in order to allow a new lawyer from the Skagit County Public Defender’s Office to get up to speed on the case.
Court records show that public defender Tammy Candler has been assigned to Rivas’ case from the start, but several other public defenders have been assigned and then unassigned to work as co-counsel since December 2016.
After each change of Rivas’ legal team, a judge has granted a continuance so the new team can prepare.
During hearings in August regarding the previous continuance, Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich objected and suggested Keith Tyne, director of the Public Defender’s Office, take the role as co-counsel to avoid further delays.
The request was echoed earlier this month by Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula.
In a statement to the court, Tyne said his department has hired a new lawyer who will start March 4.
The majority of that lawyer’s time will be spent preparing for the May 29 trial, documents state.
Rivas remains in the Skagit County Community Justice Center on $1 million bail.