Third VanMall homicide suspect appears in court

Suspected gunman extradited from Oregon

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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The suspected gunman in a Feb. 4 homicide in the VanMall neighborhood appeared Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court after being extradited from Oregon.

Zacheriah A. Douglas, 22, of Vancouver is accused of fatally shooting Craig Moritz early Feb. 4 after luring him to a van under the pretense of a drug transaction and trying to rob him.

Douglas also attempted to shoot Moritz’s friend Aaron Smith, but the pistol he was using either jammed or ran out of ammunition, Deputy Prosecutor Michael Vaughn said Tuesday.

Judge David Gregerson held Douglas in lieu of $1 million bail, as requested by prosecutors.

“That’s based on the aggravated nature of the charges, as well as the defendant’s criminal history,” Vaughn told the judge.

Gregerson appointed Vancouver attorney Therese Lavallee to defend Douglas. He’s scheduled to be arraigned May 15 on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.

According to a court affidavit, Moritz and Smith left a friend’s apartment at about 2 a.m. and went to Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive to sell some marijuana to Shawn Fortner, 19, of Bend, Ore. Fortner and Fortner’s cousin, Jonathan Hensey, 21, of East Wenatchee picked up Moritz and Smith in a purple minivan and drove them a short distance to a parking lot in the same block.

In the parking lot, a masked man, later identified as Douglas, emerged from the back of the minivan and held Moritz and Smith at gunpoint, the affidavit says. Smith told police that the masked man threatened to shoot them and demanded that they hand over all of their belongings.

Smith and Moritz were attempting to flee when the masked man shot Moritz in the back, killing him, according to one account in the affidavit.

“The victim (Smith) indicated that he had the firearm leveled at him,” Vaughn said Tuesday. “He pulled the trigger. The weapon either jammed or ran out of ammunition.”

Smith returned to the friend’s apartment and told Moritz’s girlfriend, Jennifer Scroggins, that he thought that Moritz had been shot, according to a court affidavit by Vancouver police Detective Wally Stefan. Smith said he would show her where Moritz was located, Stefan wrote. They walked to the 7700 block of Vancouver Mall Drive, where Scroggins found Moritz unresponsive.

Smith refused to call 911, telling Scroggins he “could not deal with the police,” and left the area,” Stefan wrote.

Scroggins called 911 and performed CPR on Moritz under the direction of a dispatcher until emergency responders arrived, according to a recording of the 911 call. Moritz was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fortner later admitted to police that he, Hensey and Douglas had met Moritz and Smith to rob them of their drugs, and Douglas shot Moritz when Moritz and Smith began to run away, the affidavit says.

Hensey and Fortner were arrested Feb. 4. They are being held on $500,000 bail and $750,000 bail, respectively, in Clark County Jail on suspicion of being accomplices in the shooting.

Douglas was arrested Feb. 5 in Forest Grove, Ore. When he was taken into custody, he had a .22-caliber pistol on him, Stefan wrote. He had to be extradited back to Clark County, which required a governor’s warrant.