WOODBURN — Although it’s been nearly a year since the murder of Woodburn teen Tomas Montes-Sanchez, steps toward a trial for two men charged in the case are just beginning.
Javier Sanchez Perez, 20, of Gervais, was arraigned on March 26 and a status conference was conducted Monday morning concerning his impending trial. Erasmo Lopez Jr., 20, of Salem, has yet to be arraigned.
“The parties met for the first time,” said district attorney Jodie Bureta. “With murder cases it takes a long time for the defense council to review reports.”
She added that it’s possible a court date could be set at the next status conference scheduled for May 7.
Sanchez has been charged with murder by firearm, two counts of attempted aggravated murder, unlawful use of a weapon and conspiracy to commit murder.
The arraignment for Lopez has been delayed because he is currently incarcerated at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution on other charges. In November, he was imprisoned for attempted murder, robbery I, assault II and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
Lopez’s scheduled earliest release date is December of 2033.
“What will happen is he will be transferred and arraigned on the charges that the indictment handed down,” said Woodburn Police Capt. Jason Alexander. “I expect that to be in the next week or two. Then he’ll be in custody until trial.”
According to the police report, on May 14 of last year, Montes-Sanchez, 19, was in front of his house in the 1100 block of North First Street with his two brothers. It was just before 10 p.m. when they were approached by a group that said they wanted to fight the brothers at a nearby park. After the brothers refused, the group left but returned in larger numbers, this time shooting Montes-Sanchez.
The Chemeketa Community College student suffered three gunshot wounds and died at the scene.
“Tomas was not the intended target,” said Alexander. “This is a gang-related case, so that’s why it took 11 months to make an arrest. It’s typically difficult. It took a lot of investigative work.”
Sanchez, who was arrested March 23, is currently being housed in the Marion County Correctional Facility. If convicted, he would serve a mandatory life imprisonment.
Judge Albin Norblad is presiding over the case, which has Bureta and Brendan Murphy on the prosecution team and John Manning serving for the defense.