PENDLETON — The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office seeks to use John Mattila’s own profanity and insulting references to the victim against him at his upcoming manslaughter trial.
The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office has accused Mattila of driving drunk the evening of Feb. 22 and killing Adelaida Solis Torres in a car crash on Highway 11 near Weston. She was 52, worked for the Oregon Department of Human Services and was driving a state vehicle at the time.
Mattila described Solis Torres with slurs and insults to an Oregon State Police trooper investigating the crash the same night, according to court documents. Deputy District Attorney Daniel Pachico on July 11 filed the motion in Umatilla County Circuit Court asking a judge to rule on whether a jury should get to hear those statements.
The rude comments demonstrate Mattila was aware of Torres’ gender, Pachico asserted, and tends to establish Mattila knew or had reason to believe he was “involved in a collision with an occupied vehicle.” Mattila’s statements also display a lack of remorse, according to Pachico, which “tends to explain why defendant did not remain at the scene, why defendant did not attempt to render assistance to the victim, or make a good-faith effort to immediately contact 9-1-1.”
If the court finds Mattila’s statements relevant, it also must determine how probative they are — informative to the case — versus how prejudicial they are.
Pachico likewise asked the court to rule on the admissibility of Mattila’s hospital records, including a blood test, and on his jail mug shots. According to the motion, the jail took two photos of Mattila the night of the deadly crash and his arrest, “and in each photograph defendant appears to be red-faced, jovial, and grinning.”
District Attorney Dan Primus did not speak to the specifics about this case but said seeking a ruling on evidence is common. Prosectors and defendants sometimes like a judge to make such determinations before a jury is present. That’s speedier, he said, than seating a jury and asking them to leave so attorneys can have a “mini-trial” about the value of evidence.
Circuit Judge Jon Lieuallen takes up the motion Friday afternoon in Pendleton. The case has a trial readiness hearing Aug. 27, and the trial starts Sept. 18. Mattila remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, on multiple charges, including manslaughter, hit-and-run causing a fatality and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Pachico also is overseeing the prosecution of Leman Louis Bledsoe, 77, of Milton-Freewater, in another drunk-driving manslaughter case. Primus said DUII prosecutions can be technical, and Pachico has the experience and background to navigate those hurdles, so he has been working on the Bledsoe and Mattila cases from their inceptions.
Bledsoe has been in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, since his arrest Aug. 15, 2018, for driving drunk through a road construction zone on Highway 11 near Weston and crashing into and killing flagger Tyresa Monaghan. The case goes to trial Monday.