WALLA WALLLA — A Walla Walla County Superior Court judge has denied a request by lawyers of Walla Walla firefighter Anthony Spada for $18,000 in public money to pay a specialist to transcribe his first trial.
Spada is awaiting a second trial on charges of second-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation, second-degree child molestation and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
According to court documents, audio and video recordings of the first trial are available for Spada’s attorneys, and Judge Brandon L. Johnson said they had plenty of time to review the record before their client’s retrial in October.
Spada’s first trial ended in a mistrial after a jury was unable to reach a verdict in February. He is accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old minor and showing pornographic content to the juvenile.
The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin does not publish the identity of alleged sexual assault victims.
After the mistrial, Spada replaced his lawyer — Walla Walla defense attorney William McCool — with Tukwila-based attorney Emily M. Gause, who specializes in criminal defense and has had her own practice in King County since 2014.
According to court documents, Laura Robinett, an attorney with Gause’s firm, filed a motion for the funds saying, “It is essential to Mr. Spada’s Defense that counsel receive transcripts of the original trial in order to effectively represent Mr. Spada.”
Robinett said in the written motion that transcripts would help the defense to predict what will be argued in the second trial, develop strategies and explore options not used the first time around.
“Without these transcripts, the Defense will be at a disadvantage against the State, who is already familiar with the proceedings,” she wrote.
Johnson rejected the arguments in his written ruling.
“Because the re-trial is not set until (Oct.) 17, 2023, Mr. Spada’s counsel has adequate time to review the recording of the prior trial,” Johnson wrote.
The jury deliberated for more than 20 hours over several days after the first trial.
A juror told the Union-Bulletin that most of the jury wanted to convict Spada.
The juror said the last formal vote was 10-2 in favor of conviction. And after further deliberation, one of the holdouts was willing to change their vote.
Spada has been on pre-trial release with no bail since the day after he was arrested March 23, 2022. He was placed on paid administrative leave from the Walla Walla Fire Department after he was arrested.
Later that year, the Washington State Department of Health suspended Spada’s paramedic license, Walla Walla city spokesperson Brenden Koch said, making him ineligible for paid leave. He then began using his accrued leave.
Earlier this year, Koch said Spada will remain an employee of the Walla Walla Fire Department pending the outcome of his legal proceedings.