PATEROS Four orchard workers being held in the beating death of a coworker will likely face charges of second-degree murder and removal or concealment of a body.
The Okanogan County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has until 5 p.m. Thursday to file formal charges against Jose D. Jimenez-Hernandez, 42, Oscar Perez-Torres, 37, and Ramon Arrellano-Lopez, 45, all of Pateros; and Jaime M. Salazar-Gomez, 38, of Orondo.
In addition to those charges, all four men are also being held for immigration officials.
In the meantime, they are being held in the Okanogan County Jail in Okanogan on $750,000 bail following first appearance hearings before Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Chris Culp earlier this afternoon. All will be arraigned Sept. 29.
The men are accused of beating coworker 28-year-old Jose L. Galeana-Palacios of Pateros to death during a fight at a pond near 270 Watson Draw Road.
The victim and all the defendants are believed to have lived at a worker camp at the same address, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said previously.
The men were booked into the Okanogan County Jail on Monday after deputies connected a body found in the Columbia River to Galeana-Palacios, who had been reported missing the day before.
The boat launch is located about four miles south of town, upstream from Wells Dam.
"I've reviewed the officer's report, certified under penalty of perjury," Judge Culp said as he reviewed documents filed against Perez-Torres, the first of the defendants to appear in court today. "These two charges (second-degree murder and removal or concealment of a body) will proceed against you."
An interpreter relayed the information to each of the defendants.
The murder charge is a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000, Culp said. The removal or concealment of a body charge is a gross misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Felicia Chandler asked the court to impose a $750,000 bail on each of the defendants.
"He is a flight risk," Chandler said in reference to Perez-Torres, noting that his is also being held on an immigration detainer.
Culp and Chandler followed a similar request and response on each of the other three defendants, with the judge noting none of the men would be released on bail without another hearing and consent from immigration officials.
"The state believes that amount of bail is reasonable and appropriate," Chandler said in regards to Arrellano-Lopez.
Culp also approved a public defender to represent each of the defendants.
The last of the defendants to appear Tuesday, Salazar-Gomez, is also wanted on a warrant from Chelan County, Chandler said.
"You'll be back in court Sept. 29," Culp told Salazar-Gomez through an interpreter.