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Robbery Victim Spends 53 Days In Jail

August 21, 1986

PASCO, Wash. (AP) _ A migrant farmworker who was robbed in June spent 53 days in jail before a judge finally ordered his release.

Arturo Flores, 30, had been held in the Franklin County Jail as a material witness in the robbery case. He was released Tuesday after the man accused of robbing him changed his plea to guilty.

A judge can decide to keep a witness in custody if the prosecution or defense fears a key witness might flee rather than testify. But Flores, who does not speak English, was never brought before a judge.

″Even a criminal can only be held for 72 hours without charges being filed,″ said Steve Aycock, a lawyer appointed by Judge Duane E. Taber to represent Flores.

Flores was jailed immediately after his assailant was arrested, but ″up until today, there was no motion by the prosecutor (for a hearing),″ Aycock said Tuesday.

Flores was released after Armondo Preciado Martinez, 30, pleaed guilty to second-degree robbery. Martinez had been scheduled to go to trial Wednesday.

Martinez was accused of kicking Flores in the groin June 28, and of taking money and a Social Security card.

Flores was paid $1,060 in material witness fees after his release Tuesday, but Aycock said his client had grounds to seek additional damages because he was held without a court appearance and without an order declaring him a material witness.

Taber first learned of Flores’ situation Tuesday and asked that he be brought into court.

Harry Tracy, Franklin County Jail administrator, said he called the prosecutor’s office twice while the case was pending and reported Flores was being held without an order.

Franklin County Deputy Prosecutor Johnette Sullivan said she did not know how Flores slipped through the cracks of the system.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Prosecutor L.S. ″Stan″ Moore handled the case initially, she said.

Phone calls to Moore for comment were not immediately returned Wednesday.

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