A Yakima County Superior Court jury has found a Wapato gang member guilty of shooting a woman in 2017, and trying to arrange the killing of one of the witnesses two years later.
Jurors concluded their deliberations at 1 p.m. Thursday, after more than 6½ hours of deliberations over two days.
Michael Joseph Allred, 41, was charged with shooting a woman outside her Egan Lane home on Jan. 22, 2017. Prosecutors said Allred fired a single shot that grazed a man across the stomach and seriously injured the woman.
In 2019, Yakima County jail officers found a letter reportedly written by Allred addressed to a fellow gang member asking him to burn down the home of a Wapato woman he said was the “star witness” against him.
He was found guilty of four counts of first-degree assault and one count each of unlawful firearms possession, attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree arson, witness tampering and felony harassment.
Jurors also found that Allred used a firearm in each of the assault counts, which adds an additional five years on a sentence for each finding.
Allred’s attorney, John Doherty, said his client will be filing an appeal. He described the verdict as “a tough one.”
In his closing arguments, Doherty argued that there were significant holes in the prosecution’s case, such as not bringing in the woman who was shot to testify in court, as well as what he saw as weaknesses in the evidence that Allred tried to have a key witness killed.
“(The jurors) said they weighed the arguments on the proof of attempted arson, attempted murder and witness tampering, and they felt like there were a lot more questions,” Doherty said after meeting with jurors after the verdict. “But they said the evidence was pretty strong.”
One of the jurors said that reviewing a letter prosecutors said Allred wrote to a fellow gang member soliciting the killing the witness, as well as phone calls from the jail, helped persuade them.
“It was hard to read the text, but we had to read in between the lines for it to come together. It was the steps in between that helped us the most,” said the juror, who declined to give his name. “The recordings were really mumbled, but after hearing them it made it a lot easier and then everything came into place.”
Authorities learned about the plot against the woman after a letter was found in the possession of a gang member who was being transferred to another jail. The letter, which was to be passed to a gang member in Yakima, asked the gang member to kill the woman by burning down her house because she was the “star witness” in the case, according to court documents.
The handwriting on the letter was matched to one found in Allred’s car, and recorded phone calls between Allred and the letter’s intended recipient asking if he received the document further confirmed Allred’s authorship, prosecutors said.
Deputy Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Barrett said the targeted woman was one of the state’s best witnesses, both for the power of her testimony and her courage in testifying.
“I think the jury can be comfortable with the verdict,” Barrett said.
Prosecutors say Allred and Oscar Ibarra went to the Egan Lane home Jan. 22, 2017, to confront a fellow gang member who was dating a woman Ibarra was interested in, an act Ibarra considered a sign of “disrespect.”
At the house, the man’s sister and mother confronted Ibarra, who then ordered Allred to shoot the mother, but his single shot instead grazed one man and struck the sister in the shoulder and passed through her body, according to court documents.
Since the mother and her son were in the line of fire, they were counted as assault victims, Barrett said.
Allred was arrested shortly after the incident in Yakima, while Ibarra, 38, was arrested later and entered an Alford plea to first-degree assault in 2018. He was sentenced to almost 16 years in prison.
An Alford plea allows Ibarra to maintain his innocence while conceding that prosecutors could have persuaded jurors to convict him.