Two trials — cases of alleged attempted murder and rape at two separate Vancouver motels — began Monday in Clark County Superior Court.
Angelino L. Pena, 32, of Vancouver is on trial on a charge of second-degree attempted murder with a weapons enhancement in connection with a gang-related shooting in 2013 at downtown Vancouver’s EconoLodge. Pena is accused of shooting a man in the head after a dispute about the victim’s cousin. Pena and the victim reportedly know each other from an association with Vancouver’s Norteño street gang, according to court records.
In a separate courtroom, Greycloud Lawler, 34, of Vancouver is charged with the imprisonment, rape and strangulation of a woman he knew inside a room at the Value Motel in Hazel Dell.
Jury selection and opening statements in both trials happened Monday. Testimony also began and is expected to continue through the week.
Pena is accused of shooting another associate of the Norteños with a semiautomatic firearm Jan. 26, 2013, in Room 212 at EconoLodge, 601 Broadway, after an argument about the victim’s cousin. He is charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault.
However, the victim testified Monday that he couldn’t remember what the argument was about. He said he remembers few details about the events leading up to the shooting because the bullet punctured his skull and entered his brain, causing memory loss.
At least two other people were in the motel room at the time, including Elena Espinoza, who paid for the room, according to a court affidavit by Clark County sheriff’s Detective Erik Zimmerman.
Another man was asleep at the time of the shooting and awoke to the blast of gunshots, court records said. He saw the victim fall facedown, “motionless, with blood pooling around his face and head,” Zimmerman wrote.
Pena then told the witness to “scram,” according to Zimmerman.
Court records indicate no one called 911 for 10 hours.
Espinoza, who eventually sought help for the victim, reportedly gave inconsistent stories about what happened. Vancouver police indicated in court records that they believe she was trying to provide an alibi for Pena.
She pleaded guilty in September to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and was sentenced to more than two years in prison.
Pena has a significant criminal history, including assault with a deadly weapon, malicious mischief, harassment, robbery and weapons violations.
The gang history of the defendant and victim may not be introduced to the jury, Judge David Gregerson ruled.
Pena’s attorney, Gregg Schile, has not yet revealed his defense argument. He did not give an opening statement Monday.
In the rape trial in front of Judge Barbara Johnson, Lawler is accused of imprisoning a 28-year-old woman for two days inside the Value Motel, 708 N.E. 78th St. During that time, he raped her and repeatedly strangled her, according to court records. He slept against the door of the room with a hunting knife in his hand to prevent her from escaping, court records say.
The woman told police that Lawler became violent during an argument and strangled her until she passed out. When she woke up, Lawler allegedly kept her in the room against her will and told her that if she screamed, he would kill her, court records say. In the morning, he allegedly ripped off her clothes and raped her while she kicked him and scratched at his face.
He has been charged with first-degree rape, first-degree kidnap, harassment death threats, second-degree assault, possession of methamphetamine and interference with a police report.