Before jury selection got under way Monday in the Carolyn and Debbie Lattin goat-abuse trial, Thurston County District Court Judge Sam Meyer ruled against a potential star witness for the defense, saying that Thurston County Commissioner Gary Edwards will not be allowed to testify in the case.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Lippert moved to exclude Edwards’ testimony, saying his comments, outlined in a declaration prior to trial, were irrelevant. Lattins’ attorney, Justin Kover, argued that they were, but Meyer didn’t buy it.
Edwards wasn’t in court Monday, but he has appeared with the Lattins before. At the time, Edwards said a “wrong has been committed and I want to stick up for the right.”
The Lattins operate the popular Lattins Cider Mill and Farm on Rich Road. In June, 18 goats were seized by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office after complaints about the condition of the goats, which reportedly showed signs of hoof rot. The Lattins were later charged with second-degree animal cruelty, a gross misdemeanor. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lippert said Edwards planned to testify about a computer-automated dispatching system used by law enforcement, and his own personal interaction with law enforcement over a goat of his own. Lippert questioned how the inner workings of the CAD system and his personal story about an animal could be relevant.
Instead, Lippert argued that Edwards appearance in court was intended for other effects.
“It’s designed to fuel the fire of claims of notoriety of this case, and would be a distraction for this case,” he said.
Kover countered that the CAD system is of the highest relevance, and added that Edwards can offer testimony on police procedure, criminal procedure and best practices for how deputies conduct their duties.
Lippert countered that most of what Kover said was not included in Edwards’ declaration.
Judge Meyer questioned how the ins and outs of the CAD system could be relevant.
“The issue in this case is how well the Lattins took care of these particular goats,” he said.
The trial is expected to take two weeks, Meyer said. Although this is a Thurston County District Court case, it was held in a Superior Courtroom Monday for jury selection, then moved to District Court in the afternoon.