Trial delayed in attack on Center Street

Fernando Saenz Jr. and Jacihel Contreras face a trial date in August in connection with shootings and stabbings in March.

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WALLA WALLA -- A trial initially set next week for two suspects in a bloody, gang-related attack outside a residence on Center Street in March is being postponed in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

The proceedings for alleged gang members Fernando Saenz Jr., 22, of 440 Sprague Ave., and Jacihel Contreras, 25, of 420 N. Sixth Ave., had been scheduled to begin Tuesday. But the start date is being delayed until Aug. 3, which will give attorneys more time to sift through evidence recently compiled by police in the complicated case.

Five men were stabbed, shot or both during the melee about 2:15 a.m. March 13 outside 1306 Center.

Saenz, alleged to have been armed with a knife, is charged with five counts of first-degree assault because officials initially believed all five of the men had been stabbed. However, at least one of those charges will be dropped because medical examination revealed one of the victims initially thought to have been stabbed and shot did not actually suffer stab wounds, according to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden.

Contreras, who police say shot two victims, is accused of two counts of first-degree assault.

Police said the violence broke out at a birthday party for a daughter of the woman who rents the home. The daughter reportedly lives elsewhere.

The gang members were attending the function and apparently confronted a group of men -- with no known gang affiliation -- when they dropped by to retrieve a coat for a woman who had left earlier, according to police.

Officials said Saenz stabbed Juan P. Robles, 22; Louis Camargo, 42; and Alan Roblero, 22. Saenz also allegedly stabbed Contreras, his fellow gang member, apparently by mistake.

In addition, Roblero and his brother, Osman Roblero, 21, were shot, allegedly by Contreras armed with a semiautomatic handgun.

The victims were taken to area hospitals. Osman Roblero, the mostly seriously injured, was shot twice in the chest. Officials at first mistakenly believed he also had been stabbed.

Saenz and Contreras still are incarcerated in the County Jail, with bail for each set at $250,000. At a court hearing Wednesday, Judge Donald W. Schacht denied a motion by Saenz's attorney, Gail Siemers, to release Saenz on electronic home monitoring pending his trial or to reduce the bail.

In addition to the assault charges, Contreras faces a charge of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because he is a convicted felon. If convicted of the current charges, both defendants could be sentenced to serve decades in prison.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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