Tim Castilleja told jurors Wednesday that he was afraid to testify against the accused killer of Alillia “Lala” Minthorn.
Minthorn, 25, of Toppenish was shot to death May 3, 2019, north of Brownstown in a closed area of the Yakama reservation.
Jordan Stevens is accused of shooting her. He’s facing a first-degree murder charge in U.S. District Court. His trial began Monday.
Two witnesses, Samantha Tainewasher and Jasmine McCormack, say Stevens shot and killed Minthorn because she spoke to FBI agents about an incident in which he and McCormack were involved. They say they were with him when the shooting occurred.
Stevens, Tainewasher and McCormack allegedly visited Castilleja’s tavern in Brownstown shortly after Minthorn was killed.
Castilleja told investigators he’d testify in court, but never showed. He was arrested Wednesday and forced to testify.
He said the three showed up in the early afternoon of May 3, 2019, and were playing pool. A few minutes later, McCormack went out to Tainewasher’s Yukon, drove it around back and began cleaning it out, he said.
A few minutes later, Castilleja said he went out to talk to McCormack as she was cleaning the center of the SUV.
He said she looked upset.
“She looked at me and said she had done it — she really done it,” Castilleja said.
He wouldn’t elaborate or provide more context.
When Prosecutor Ben Seal asked what she meant by that, Castilleja paused and his voice shook as he said: “It’s pretty rough. You hit a crossroads. It gets pretty hectic out there.”
Castilleja said Stevens and Tainewahser were inside kissing while he spoke to McCormack. He and McCormack went back inside, and Tainewahser, McCormack and Stevens left together not long afterward.
Castilleja said Stevens was carrying a rifle outside.
“It looked like a 30-30 to me,” he told the court. “I asked him if he wanted to sell it. He said no, I need it right now.”
He said the three were there for about an hour and then all left together.
“That was the last I seen of them,” Castilleja said.
Defense attorney Karla Kane Hudson pointed out inconsistencies in Castilleja’s testimony and what he’d previously told an FBI agent.
He had told investigators that McCormack had only spent a few nights at his tavern, where he has rooms to rent.
But during the trial, he said he rented her a room for about a year.
She also questioned Castilleja about what he told FBI agent Clint Barefoot in an earlier interview — specifically, that the three had spent the night at his tavern the day they showed up.
Earlier Wednesday, Barefoot testified about his working relationship with McCormack, who provided him with initial information about the case.
On Tuesday, Defense attorney Ulvar Klein questioned McCormack about the roughly 100 calls between her and Barefoot over a year and suggested she had a thing for him.
Klein suggested that Barefoot promised her a better outcome on charges she’s facing in a another case if she testified against Stevens.
McCormack didn’t come forward until May 28, 2019, after Barefoot reached out to her while she was held in the Klickitat County jail following a police pursuit in a stolen car.
Barefoot said maintaining a working relationship with McCormack was to foster trust with her as a witness, and that he documented all calls.
McCormack understands her culture, jail culture and street lingo, which is all valuable to a case, he said
“Being a white officer on a reservation — I’m an outsider but the only one with the ability to investigate these cases,” he said.