Three felony-murder convictions in Yakima County have been overturned by the state Court of Appeals, but at least one defendant is likely to face trial again. The rulings issued Thursday...
YAKIMA — Three felony-murder convictions in Yakima County have been overturned by the state Court of Appeals, but at least one defendant is likely to face trial again.
The rulings issued Thursday by the state Court of Appeals follow a pair of state Supreme Court decisions that invalidated second-degree-murder convictions, from 1976 to 2002, that had been based on assaults without a proven intent to kill.
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The Legislature has amended state law to restore assault as a basis for felony-murder convictions dating from 2002.
Although Prosecutor Ronald Zirkle said Thursday that decisions on the three Yakima County cases will be announced next week, a deputy left no doubt about Nelson Osorio, 40, who pleaded guilty to felony murder in 1993 and was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.
“We originally charged him with first-degree murder, and that’s what we’ll charge him with again,” Deputy Prosecutor Ken Ramm said. “He’s not going anywhere if we can help it.”
Osorio stabbed his girlfriend, Debra Jennings, 17 times in front of her children. Police said they found her 8-year-old son leaning against her body, sobbing.
Less certain are the cases of Glen Langford Sr., 53, already released after serving time for being an accomplice to felony-murder and assault, and Ross C. Renecker Jr., 58, convicted of felony-murder in 1978.
Langford’s case stemmed from a fight in which his son, Glen Jr., fatally stabbed 17-year-old Carson Simmons at Granger High School in 1990. The appellate-court ruling, if allowed to stand, would eliminate the record of the father’s conviction.
Renecker has spent much of his life behind bars for the beating and strangling of Frances Stubberfield, 53, and was scheduled for release from prison in 2007.