From Murder Suspect to Free Man in 2 Weeks
In the span of two short weeks, Timothy Allen Kelly went from being a murder suspect to a free man. Here’s the story:
At approximately 1 p.m. on the afternoon of Feb. 4, David Wayne Newton, 51, of Hermiston, drove his 25-year-old friend, Daniel Leonard Dechand to Good Shepherd Medical Center. Dechand was dying from multiple gunshot wounds. While doctors worked to save his life, area law enforcement officials quickly began what they believed to be an attempted murder investigation. Starting at the hospital, Hermiston Police officers began interviewing potential witnesses. Other agencies – part of the Umatilla/Morrow County Major Crime Team – joined the investigation. The team includes police departments from Umatilla, Hermiston, Pendleton and Boardman, the Umatilla and Morrow County Sheriff’s offices, the Umatilla Tribal Police Department, the Oregon State Police, the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (B.E.N.T.), as well as scientists from the OSP Crime Lab.
Then, at 2:03 p.m., the attempted murder investigation became a murder investigation when Dechand was pronounced dead at the hospital.
According to the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office, Kelly was identified early on as a suspect in the shooting. Despite interviewing and re-interviewing Kelly’s friends, family and acquaintances and searching locations where Kelly was known to hang out, investigators were unable to find their suspect.
Investigators worked through the night and the next several days obtaining evidence, executing search warrants and tracking down additional potential witnesses.
Three days had passed since Dechand died of his gunshot wounds and investigators still hadn’t located Kelly. But, according to the D.A.’s office, they had enough evidence to issue a warrant for Kelly’s arrest on murder charges – if they could find him.
It turns out Kelly was in Hood River feeling the heat, and on Feb. 10, he contacted a detective from the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office. He wanted to turn himself in. Investigators drove to Hood River, found Kelly and took him back to Umatilla County.
On the ride back, an emotional Kelly began telling his side of the story that led to the death of Dechand. Kelly, crying throughout the interview, told investigators that Dechand was a friend of his, but that on the day of Feb. 4, he was attempting to rob Kelly.
“After Kelly advised Dechand that he was armed, Dechand told Kelly that he had a gun, too,” according to a press release from the D.A.’s office.
Kelly told investigators that when he refused to turn over his property, Dechand reached under his seat as if to grab the gun that he claimed to have. It was then that Kelly fired his gun into Dechand. District Attorney Dan Primus said the gun that Kelly claimed Dechand has not been found.
The next day – Feb. 11 – Kelly was arraigned on one count of murder in the death of Daniel Leonard Dechand. Umatilla County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Brauer set Kelly’s bail at $1 million and set a preliminary hearing for today – Feb. 19.
Meanwhile, investigators continued to interview Kelly and analyzed the information gathered to that point, including physical and scientific evidence, paying close attention to witnesses’ statements. From what they could gather, evidence indicated that Kelly’s story of an attempted robbery was accurate.
On Monday, Feb. 17, investigators interviewed Kelly for a third time. This time, he led law enforcement to a rock pile off of Sunshine Road, near the location where the shooting took place. There they found the gun he used to shoot Dechand.
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, Umatilla County District Attorney Daniel Primus presented the evidence to the Umatilla County Grand Jury. Newton – the man who drove Dechand to the hospital – testified before the grand jury, as did key investigators. After hearing all the testimony, the grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to charge Kelly in the murder of Dechand, and Primus dismissed the murder charge. Primus said today that he has not plans at this time to bring additional charges against Kelly.
“From the time Dechand’s shooting was reported to law enforcement on Feb. 4 up until the case was presented to the grand jury, investigators from both Umatilla and Morrow counties, included the Umatilla/Morrow County Major Crime Team, B.E.N.T., and the local law enforcement agencies worked diligently to conduce a complete and thorough investigation,” Primus said in a press release. “Although the nature of the shooting resulted in a very complex investigation, investigators were able to pool their resources and work together to ascertain the circumstances surrounding Dechand’s death.”
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