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Dahnte Cegers, Bend murder suspect’s brother, returns to court in July after another delay in entering plea

(Update: Adding video, comments from family friend and hearing)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Following several delays, Dahnte Cegers appeared in court Wednesday afternoon for a hearing on a possible change in release conditions and possibly to enter his plea to a felony charge of hindering the prosecution of his younger brother, Caleb. The brothers fled to Tennessee in the wake of last summer’s fatal downtown shooting of Taylor Wyss.

The judge denied the prosecutor's proposed change in his release condition, to require he stay away from a downtown sports bar where some of the witnesses that night worked, after Cegers' attorney noted he wasn't in the area that night with his brother.

But the plea entry was put off again, for this sixth time, until early July, frustrating Wyss's friends and family who have been attending the hearings since the start.

"We feel stagnated, you know? All we want is a step forward, a step in the process moving forward, whether it's guilty plea or not guilty plea," family friend Jessica Lesser said afterward.

She and the family have attended every hearing. The family says they were told by the District Attorney's Office that Cegers planned on pleading not guilty at Wednesday's hearing, a step that is typically followed by setting a trial date.

"Whether it was in December and it was, you know, in the teens and I was freezing my fingers off or out here in the blazing sun, we will be here holding signs in the courtroom, demanding justice for Taylor," Lesser said.

Last August, Wyss, a 33-year-old Redmond man, was fatally shot outside Duda’s Billiard Bar on Wall Street, Caleb Cegers, now 20, and his older brother, Dahnte, now 26, fled the state. A nationwide manhunt led to the Bend pair's arrest near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In a motion filed by his attorney last month, Cegers requested modification of his conditional release, allowing him to live in Washington state after the case is concluded. He agreed to abide by release conditions and has signed a waiver of extradition, though the lawyer also noted that prosecutors object to the modified release conditions. It was not discussed at Wednesday's hearing

Deputy DA Brooks McClain asked Circuit Judge Alison Emerson to add a release condition and ban Cegers from visiting Sidelines Bar downtown, where witnesses to the shooting work.

"So given the conduct that occurred in this case, we have concerns about the integrity. Obviously, the other case, we asked ask that there be no contact with any with the establishment at Sidelines."

But defense attorney S. Skye Gross told the judge, “My client is not alleged to have been present at the incident, at all,” and the charge he faces has to do with later actions. However, she said that if he were “trespassed” (directed not to contact the establishment), he would comply.

Emerson told the attorneys, as Cegers stood beside his lawyer, “At this time, I’m not going to make any modifications to the release agreement.” She said if the request is made again, in a formal motion, “we could take that up at a different time.”

She then set his plea hearing for July 8.

Caleb Cegers, meanwhile, is due at present to go on trial for murder next Jan. 7, a 10-day jury trial. A motion hearing in that case is set for August 9 and a trial readiness hearing Dec. 16. The trial date is almost exactly a year after he pleaded not guilty last Jan. 8 to second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

Caleb Cegers’ girlfriend, Sadie Cole, who repeatedly punched a bartender and helped Caleb Cegers flee the scene, pleaded guilty to reduced charges late last year and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months' probation after she agreed to testify against Caleb Cegers.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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