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Redmond attempted murder suspect appears in court, where he’s almost mistakenly arraigned on murder charge

(Update: Adding video)

DA's initial, mistaken charge was amended Friday; defense attorney asks for 'clarification'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Bend-area man facing attempted murder and other charges, accused of shooting a Redmond-area man in the face, appeared in court Monday afternoon by video hookup from the jail after refusing to do so on Friday. But things nearly went awry in another way Monday, as for a few minutes he was mistakenly arraigned on a murder charge.

The error, caught by a defense attorney, arose after Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels at first mistakenly filed a murder charge Friday morning against Darron Jay Reece, 36, in the initial charging document, called an information.

The DA caught the error and filed an amended, corrected document around noon, about two hours later, and less than two hours before Reece was to appear in court, records show. It listed the attempted murder charge, along with charges of first-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and felon in possession of a firearm.

At Monday’s arraignment, continued from Friday due to Reece’s refusal to appear, Deputy DA Michael Swart at first asked Circuit Judge Raymond Crutchley to set bail at $1 million on what he said was a  murder charge. He said Reece allegedly “shot and killed” Lowell Edward Templeton, 56, and had admitted doing so.

“He does have a substantial criminal record, going back to juvenile,” the prosecutor said, listing “numerous assaults, failures to report, sex offender, delivery of methamphetamine. I can list more if the court needs.”

“Mr. Reece admitted he intended to shoot and kill Mr. Templeton,” Swart said.

Public defender Angela Lee-Mandlin, appointed to represent Reece after another attorney’s withdrawal, soon asked for a “clarification.”

“It sounded like Mr. Swart said my client had killed Mr. Templeton,” she said, pointing to the amended charge of attempted murder. Not just Swart, but Reece himself also had the earlier paperwork. “It says I caused the death of Lowell Templeton,” Reece said from jail.

Reece was quickly advised not to speak, and Lee-Mandlin noted, “It’s been amended, your honor.”

“Sorry, my mistake – my mistake,” Swart said, and after a break to check with others offered his apologies: “I received the wrong information.”

Swart then asked for bail to be set at $500,000, half the earlier amount, with conditions if released on bail, including no contact with the victim and possessing no weapons.

“Ms. Mandlin, thanks for bringing this to my attention,” Swart said.

Crutchley agreed to the recommended bail and conditions and set arraignment on an expected formal indictment for next Monday.

Meanwhile, Redmond police provided some more details about the crime in a news release Monday, saying the shooting occurred last Monday evening, June 3, near the intersection of NE Hemlock Avenue and 17th Street. Lt. Eric Beckwith noted that “the victim is still being treated for life-threatening injuries, but is expected to survive.”

Beckwith said Reece went to the Prineville Police Department and turned himself in last Thursday, a day after being questioned about his involvement in the shooting. Gunnels said both men lived in RVs but that the relationship between the two was unclear.

Beckwith said, "The Central Oregon Major Incident Team assisted in a large canvas of the area and was instrumental in developing information about Reece’s involvement.” He added that Redmond Police wanted to thank Prineville Police for their help in taking Reece into custody.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Barney Lerten

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