Attorneys want jury deliberations halted, seek to reopen case

2009-10-19T21:55:00Z Attorneys want jury deliberations halted, seek to reopen caseBy Dolly A. Butz and Molly Montag Journal staff writers Sioux City Journal

DAKOTA CITY -- Jurors are scheduled to resume deliberating Andrew Orellana's fate Tuesday morning, but the man's attorneys have asked that deliberations be put on hold.

Defense attorneys Richard Thramer and Bryan Smith filed a motion Monday afternoon to reopen the defense's case due to information about a warrant prosecutors filed back in June, which the defense believes charges Jesus Armando Guerra with the same crime as Orellana.

A prosecutor in the case disputed that characterization of the warrant, filing a motion Monday saying defense attorneys are trying to improperly influence the jury and that the warrant "clearly shows" Guerra is being pursued for allegedly aiding and abetting the slaying.

Orellana, 30, is on trial for one charge of first-degree murder for the Oct. 7, 1997, death of Joaquinn Guerrero. Prosecutors allege that Orellana shot Guerrero multiple times, killing him, during a gang-related incident in South Sioux City.

In the defense's motion, Thramer and Smith say they learned for the first time late Friday, after jurors began deliberating, that prosecutors had obtained a first-degree murder warrant also seeking Guerra for Guerrero's death.

That information was not shared with defense attorneys, they wrote.

On Friday, Smith told the Journal he was told Guerra was being sought as an accessory to murder, not for the actual killing.

Prosecutor Greg Ariza, acting as a special deputy Dakota County attorney, filed a motion Monday saying defense attorneys did know about the warrant and made inaccurate statements about it in Journal stories published online and in print.

Thramer and Smith intentionally put the state attorney's credibility at issue in the media in an attempt to improperly influence the jury and should be held in contempt of court or prohibited from commenting about the case, Ariza wrote.

In response to media inquiries, the Nebraska Attorney General's Office e-mailed a copy of Ariza's motion.

The disputed warrant was filed June 24, after Orellana was arrested, seeking Jesus Armando Guerra on a charge of first-degree murder.

The warrant's criminal complaint charges 30-year-old Guerra, also known as "Boxer," with first-degree murder, but the affidavit for arrest warrant states that "the shooter in this investigation is Andrew Orellana."

Guerra, according to the affidavit, allegedly participated in the crime from the beginning, knew that something criminal was going to occur based on prior contact between the two rival street gangs and provided a firearm to Orellana.

Thramer said this is a "contradiction" because the complaint, signed by Deputy Dakota County Attorney Sarah Meadows and notarized by Dakota County Attorney Kim Watson, alleges that Guerra did kill Guerrero.

"Obviously they have to come up with some sort of explanation of how they make an allegation that two different people killed the same fellow," Thramer said Monday by phone.

Thramer expected attorneys would discuss their motions before a judge early Tuesday morning.

Copyright 2015 Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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