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News / Clark County News

Judge dismisses 2 of 3 murder charges Yakima man was facing in death of Vancouver police officer

Segura's defense filed a last-ditch motion on Wednesday to dismiss felony murder counts

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 23, 2024, 10:50am
3 Photos
Julio Segura, 23, of Yakima speaks with his defense team Thursday before the start of the 12th day of his murder trial in Clark County Superior Court. Segura is accused in the death of off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota.
Julio Segura, 23, of Yakima speaks with his defense team Thursday before the start of the 12th day of his murder trial in Clark County Superior Court. Segura is accused in the death of off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota. (Jessica Prokop/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A judge Thursday morning dismissed two of the three murder charges against the Yakima man accused in the death of off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota.

In a last-ditch effort before the case goes to the jury, Julio Segura’s defense team filed a motion late Wednesday night to dismiss the felony murder counts that allege Sahota was killed while Segura was burglarizing the Sahota house and attempting to kidnap Sahota’s wife inside.

Segura, 23, is accused of stabbing Sahota as the two struggled in Sahota’s Battle Ground driveway on the night of Jan. 29, 2022. Law enforcement from multiple agencies had chased Segura to the area in connection with an armed robbery at an Orchards gas station. Moments later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller arrived and mistakenly shot Sahota.

Prosecutors argue Segura’s actions caused Sahota’s death. He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder — of which two were felony murder — and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Nancy Retsinas said she agreed with the defense’s argument that Feller would not have known Segura was inside the Sahota house and possibly committing crimes when Feller decided to shoot the man he later discovered was Sahota.

“She was right,” Segura’s defense attorney, Michele Michalek, told The Columbian after the judge’s ruling. “This case has been overcharged since I got involved. It’s a tragedy. It’s sad, but the state is overreaching.”

Prosecutors asked the judge to reconsider her ruling and requested a long break so they could research the issue further. Retsinas agreed to an extended break until the afternoon, but she said she was “pretty solid” on her ruling.

The court had planned to go into closing arguments first thing in the morning. But they were delayed to address this issue and for the attorneys to rework the jury instructions, which had already been finalized and read to the jury Wednesday.

When the court reconvened in the afternoon, prosecutors asked the judge to let all of the murder charges go to the jury, and then rule on the dismissal if the jury returned guilty verdicts. Retsinas did not change her mind and upheld her morning ruling.

After reworking the jury instructions, the judge reread them to the jury. Attorneys then delivered closing arguments late Thursday afternoon, with the defense still taking its turn by press time.

Once closing arguments are complete, the case will go to the jury for deliberations.

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