Testimony begins in manslaughter trial

Sequim's Nathaniel Darren Olson charged in 2014 shooting

Sequim resident Nathaniel Darren Olson is charged with first-degree manslaughter with a firearm enhancement.

Sequim resident Nathaniel Darren Olson is charged with first-degree manslaughter with a firearm enhancement.

Witness testimony began last week in the trial of Nathaniel Darren Olson, a Sequim man charged in the shooting death of Matthew Baker at a house party east of Port Angeles in 2014.

Olson, 29, is charged with first-degree manslaughter with a firearm enhancement for the early morning shooting at a Monroe Road residence on May 22, 2014. He has maintained his innocence.

Opening arguments were completed Tuesday, March 1.

Testimony is expected to take about two weeks, Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin has said.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office alleged that a “heavily intoxicated” Olson intentionally shot Baker during a social gathering at 1523 Monroe Road.

Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Brian Knutson on Wednesday, March 2, displayed to the jury the .45-caliber Sig Sauer pistol that Olson allegedly used to shoot the 25-year-old Baker.

An autopsy showed that Baker died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.

A bullet that was recovered near Baker’s body was entered into evidence and examined by gloved jury members despite an objection from defense attorney Karen Unger.

“I don’t think there is any dispute that Mr. Baker was shot,” Unger said. “I don’t expect to cross-examine this particular witness about being mistaken that that is the bullet.”

Knutson testified on cross-examination that he had reason to believe that Baker had been in a fight with another man prior to the shooting.

The state has secured more than 30 witnesses, including other law enforcement officers, forensic scientists and party attendees to speak to the events leading up to the shooting.

First responders said they found an intoxicated Olson lying on the living room floor near Baker’s body when they arrived.

Olson told one witness that Baker “came at me” before the shooting, deputies wrote in the affidavit for probable cause.

Olson posted a $75,000 bail bond in June 2014 and has remained out of custody. He was seated next to Unger wearing a suit at trial.

In other developments, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer dismissed a jury member after she expressed written and verbal concerns about her privacy and personal safety.

The woman said she had not discussed her concerns with other members of the jury.

“I’m afraid,” the juror told Rohrer.

Her dismissal leaves one alternate juror on a 13-member panel that consists of 12 women and one man.

 

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

 

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