Trial rescheduled for man charged in slaying of Oso couple

EVERETT — The man charged with murdering an Oso couple just over a year ago now likely won’t stand trial until sometime in 2018.

John Reed was to have gone before a Snohomish County Superior Court jury this fall to answer allegations that he killed his former neighbors in Oso on April 11, 2016.

The trial was rescheduled Monday after Reed exercised his right to hire new legal counsel.

Reed is charged with aggravated murder in the gunshot killings of Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude. The husband and wife were found buried in a makeshift grave several miles from their home.

The couple had a long-simmering property dispute with Reed, which reportedly got worse after the deadly 2014 mudslide made his land unsafe for habitation.

Reed took a disaster buyout for his property, but he returned and was squatting. Patenaude reported him shortly before the killings, according to court papers.

If convicted as charged, Reed faces life in prison without possibility of release.

During a hearing Monday, Judge Ellen Fair was told that Reed’s family had hired Everett defense attorney Phil Sayles to handle the case.

Reed early on was at risk of a potential death sentence. He was assigned seasoned public defenders, including Jon Scott, who has experience representing people charged in potential capital murder cases. Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe in December announced he wouldn’t seek death for Reed, a decision he said was made after a careful review of the evidence.

Scott, who is known for spirited defense of his clients, told the judge Monday he had no thoughts to share about Sayles taking over the case. He’d already provided the other lawyer with more than 4,300 pages of police reports and other discovery in the case, he told the judge.

Deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said his office was not objecting to the substitution of counsel. A trial continuance would be necessary, he said, to give time for Sayles to prepare.

The attorneys agreed to a mid February trial date.

Reed has been locked up in the county jail in Everett since his arrest in Mexico last summer. He and his brother, Tony Reed, allegedly fled there with help from their family after the killings.

On Monday, John Reed appeared in court dressed in a button-down shirt and slacks instead of a jail uniform, the attire typical of detainees during pre-trial hearings.

The street clothes were a concession Scott earlier had won for Reed as part of a court order that was designed to limit the odds of him being filmed or photographed wearing shackles or dressed in a jail uniform.

Reed initially wasn’t present in the courtroom when Fair took the bench on Monday. Scott and Sayles both asked that the courtroom be cleared so Reed could be brought in and his restraints removed out of public view.

Fair noted that there were no cameras in the courtroom and nearly everybody else present either was involved in the case somehow or worked for the court.

Over the defense lawyers’ objections, she ordered Reed brought in so the hearing could commence.

“Frankly, I find this whole thing kind of silly,” the judge said.

Tony Reed last month was sentenced to roughly a year in jail. He told investigators that he helped his brother hide the slain couple and led them to the graves. He also reportedly has agreed to testify at his brother’s murder trial.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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