An in-person status conference is set next week for the two men accused in the killings of five people in the Lower Yakima Valley in early June 2019.
When the novel coronavirus pandemic exploded in the United States, federal court officials canceled many in-person appearances to protect the health and safety of defendants, counsel, law enforcement, court staff and the public, court records note.
COVID-19 response measures such as videoconferences instead of in-person hearings continue, but both men filed objections to a status conference being held via videoconference.
The federal courthouse remains closed to the public and only those associated with the hearing and required to attend may participate in person. A public telephone conference line will be available by calling the court’s public conference line at 1-888-808-6929, access code 3648461, five minutes before the scheduled conference time.
All participating in the in-person hearing, including defendants and their attorneys, must practice social distancing and wear a facial covering, removing it only to speak. Those addressing the court will speak from the counsel table instead of the podium.
“Any person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or who has been in contact with a person known or suspected of contracting COVID-19, shall contact Court staff to allow the hearing to be reset,” Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. wrote in his order setting the in-person status conference.
“There is no obligation to disclose private health or personal information, but the Court asks the parties to weigh the health and safety of all participants when determining whether an in-person hearing should occur.”
Donovan Cloud and James Cloud face a jury trial Jan. 19 in the slayings near the rural unincorporated community of White Swan deep within the Yakama Reservation.
Authorities were called to the trailer home of John Cagle, 59, in the 5100 block of Medicine Valley Road, where they found him; Michelle Starnes, 51; Catherine Eneas, 49; and Thomas Hernandez, 36, fatally shot. Dennis Overacker, 61, who was shot in his pickup after pulling up to the house during the killings, was found dead in the 3400 block of Evans Road.
Another man, Lindell LaFollette, was shot in the side of his head as he sped away in Overacker’s truck. A passenger in the truck, Esmerelda Zaragoza, also was shot as LaFollette drove from the area. Her infant son was unharmed.
Donovan Cloud was arrested the next day at Celilo Village, Ore., and James Cloud was arrested June 10, 2019 in Wapato.
In addition to the homicide, the Clouds have been charged with brandishing a firearm and carjacking after holding a child at gunpoint shortly after the killing as they stole a vehicle from another family, according to court documents.
Another person, Morris Bruce Jackson, was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in federal court in connection with the case. His jury trial had been rescheduled in early April to July 27 but has not been reset since, according to court records.