EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge on Monday told four of the teens charged with the Dec. 7 shooting death of an Everett woman that they need to be on their best behavior while awaiting trial in juvenile detention, or they may wind up spending months in adult jail cells.
The defendants, all 16 and 17, are charged in adult court with first-degree murder. They are accused of trying to rob another teen of drugs. The incident ended with that 17-year-old shot in the back and his mother, Julie Knechtel, 54, fatally shot in the heart, reportedly while attempting to come to her son’s aid.
Bryan “B-Money” Rodriguez-Hernandez, Larry Dontese Dorrough, Gladyz Valencia-Anguiano and Mondrell Maurice Robertson all have pleaded not guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court. Although facing adult charges, they have been locked up in the Denney Juvenile Justice Center, because of their ages.
The defendants all have been ordered not to communicate with one another, or with witnesses in the case. Despite efforts to keep the defendants separate while in custody, there are reasons to believe they’ve ignored the order, Superior Court Judge Michael Downes was told.
The judge spent much of an hour Monday exploring the concerns, some of which revolved around the social media practices of one defendant’s father.
The man reportedly sent links to a video that made reference to going to heaven to talk with angels. One of the people who received it is the mother of a 16-year-old who also is charged in the killing, but at this point is the lone defendant still being handled in juvenile court. Prosecutors have filed paperwork indicating they want him to face adult charges, too, and a hearing is set for next month.
Under Washington law, defendants aged 16 and older typically are treated as adults, and at risk of adult sentences, when charged with murder, assault and certain other serious crimes.
The 16-year-old’s mother interpreted the angel video as a threat, but at this point, Downes said, there is nothing he can do except “hope people use their heads going forward.”
Karlie Valdez, an attorney for the teen still facing juvenile charges, urged Downes to keep the defendants separate. She said at least one co-defendant has made gestures at her client, as if he was talking. Moreover, on the night of her client’s arrest, Rodriguez-Hernandez showed up at the home that teen shared with his mother, and made a gesture, as if he had a gun in his coat pocket, Valdez said.
“People are scared. This is a homicide case,” she said.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez-Hernandez shot Knechtel and Dorrough shot her son. Nearly all of the defendants reportedly provided detailed statements to police, implicating one another in planning and executing the holdup, court papers say.
Downes said it is clear that the 16-year-old still being treated as a juvenile needs to be kept separate from his co-defendants, and he’ll leave it to people at Denney to arrive at the best options. He also told the other teens — particularly the boys — that they are “on a very, very short leash.”
If they ignore the court order prohibiting communication about the case, they could be sent to the Snohomish County Jail to await trial. Since they are too young to mix with adult jail detainees, the teens most likely would wind up confined alone in a cell for up to 23 hours a day, the judge said.
“If you break the rules, I’ve told you what the consequences may be,” Downes said, adding “if you think I’m kidding, ask your lawyers.”
It is unlikely that trials in the case will happen for at least a year, perhaps longer, the judge added.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@herald net.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.