Washington state

Alleged Tacoma Mall shooter's trial delayed

A Pierce County judge Thursday postponed until August the trial of the man charged with shooting seven people at the Tacoma Mall in November 2005.

Dominick Maldonado now is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 14.

Superior Court Judge Linda Lee granted the continuance after Maldonados attorney argued he needed more time to prepare a mental competency defense for the 21-year-old man. Maldonado was to go to trial Monday on 15 charges, including assault, attempted murder and kidnapping.

Tacoma defense attorney Keith MacFie, the fifth attorney to represent Maldonado since his arrest, told Lee during a brief hearing that a forensic psychiatrist working with him on the case has had insufficient time to interview Maldonado and prepare a firm diagnosis.

MacFie was appointed to represent Maldonado in October. He said he would not be able to render effective assistance to Maldonado should Lee push ahead with Monday's trial date.

Deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen, who is trying the case along with colleague Mark Lindquist, objected to the delay but said he didn't want to take the chance a conviction could be overturned by an appeals court.

"We are prepared to go to trial, but we don't want to try this case twice," Sorensen said.

A curt Lee chastised MacFie for the delay before acquiescing to his request.

The judge said MacFie should have begun preparing Maldonado mental defense soon after he took over the case if those were his plans, the judge said. "Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed," she said.

Lee added that delays, especially this close to a trial date, waste county money, but that MacFie left her no choice but to grant the continuance.

MacFie had requested a delay to May, but Lee said scheduling conflicts forced her to push the trial further out.

She did order MacFie to provide prosecutors with whatever report the forensic psychiatrist prepares by May 18, so they have a chance to analyze it and prepare rebuttal.

Maldonado said nothing publicly during the hearing.

He has admitted he opened fire at the mall Nov. 20, 2005, but said he didn't mean to hurt anyone.

Maldonado, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, remains in jail in lieu of $2 million bail.