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Two Bend double-homicide suspects’ plea entries delayed again, until at least Jan. 14

Double-homicide defendant Nathan Shane Detroit II was on hand for Tuesday's planned plea hearing, which was delayed to mid-January
Deschutes County Circuit Court
Double-homicide defendant Nathan Shane Detroit II was on hand for Tuesday's planned plea hearing, which was delayed to mid-January

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Some 5,000 pages of reports provided by prosecutors to defense attorneys representing two Bend double-homicide suspects has delayed their entry of pleas a second time, until at least early next year.

Two Bend-area men, Kenneth Atkinson, 54, and his nephew, Nathan Shane Detroit II, 31, were arrested Oct. 1 on two counts each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

The bodies of Ray Atkinson Jr., 34, and his fiancé, Natasha Newby, 29, were found in August 2020 in the basement of their Northeast 12th Street home by a concerned friend and relative checking on their welfare. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said they died of blunt force trauma.

The pair were arraigned Oct. 11 on a six-count indictment that alleged a murder-for-hire scheme on Atkinson’s part. They initially were scheduled to enter pleas at a hearing set for Nov. 1, which was delayed to Tuesday due to a change in Detroit's attorney days earlier.

Atkinson’s attorney, Dylan Potter, had filed a motion to delay the plea hearing scheduled Tuesday before Deschutes County Circuit Judge Wells Ashby. Detroit’s new attorney, Elizabeth Baker, was on hand for Tuesday’s hearing, in which Detroit took part by video hookup from the Deschutes County Jail.

Baker said she would join in Potter’s request for a continuance, saying she “just received about 5,000 pages of discovery” and a 1-terabyte hard drive, and that it would take “significant time” to review and determine whether to file any initial motions regarding the charges.

Ashby at first proposed resetting the plea hearing eight weeks out, for Jan. 18, but Baker said she would be starting a homicide trial the day before in Josephine County. So it was set instead for the previous Friday, Jan. 14. Deputy District Attorney Matthew Nelson said he had no objection to the delay.

As often happens in court scheduling discussions, especially in two cases proceeding in tandem, Potter said that date “doesn’t work for me.” The judge said he anticipates the plea entry likely will be delayed further by Judge Raymond Crutchley, who has been assigned the two cases.

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Barney Lerten

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