The trial of a man accused of the April 2017 murder of a Russian woman near Alsea is set to start next week.
In a trial readiness hearing Monday, attorneys for both sides in the trial of William Chase Hargrove said they are prepared to start the four-week trial on schedule on Oct. 24.
Hargrove, a 29-year-old who most recently lived in Albany, is accused of killing 27-year-old Anna Alekseyevna Repkina to resolve what prosecutors have called a “problematic love triangle.” Hargrove faces a charge of murder, a count of identity theft and two counts of theft in the second degree.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Amie Mutusko said the state is ready for trial and has 117 potential witnesses, although she expects to narrow that list down before the trial starts.
Mutusko said there may be some logistical issues that mean some witnesses’ testimony will need to be split up between multiple dates. Part of those complications stem from the fact that the state plans to bring in some witnesses from outside Oregon. Those witnesses will have fixed dates when they need to testify because the state already has booked flights for them.
She said Repkina’s mother will be flown in from Russia to testify and will require a translator to testify, since she does not speak English.
Mutusko said the state also plans to bring in Michelle Chavez, the other woman in the love triangle, to testify. Police said in affidavits filed in the case that Chavez told them that she gave Hargrove an ultimatum that “he needed to fix” the situation with Repkina and “get rid of her.” Repkina was found dead less than two days after Chavez gave Hargrove that ultimatum.
Chavez, who was married to another man but was renting a room to Hargrove at the time of Repkina’s death, has moved to Watertown, New York since Hargrove’s arrest.
Hargrove’s attorney Mike Flinn said in a July court filing that the defense’s theory of the case is that it was not Hargrove who killed Repkina.
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“The state’s theory of the case is that defendant murdered Ms. Repkina because Ms. Chavez gave defendant an ultimatum: either he choose Ms. Chavez or Ms. Repkina. Defendant rejects that theory and believes the evidence shows that Ms. Chavez is involved in Ms. Repkina’s murder,” Flinn wrote in the filing.
Flinn said at Monday’s hearing that Chavez is also a key person on the defense’s witness list. However, he said, despite two months of effort he has been unable to independently subpoena her to testify because of the complications of doing that with an out-of-state witness.
Mutusko said the state has been able to subpoena Chavez and has already booked her travel accommodations. She added that Chavez has been cooperative about testifying.
Flinn told Judge Matthew Donohue that his defense requires a chance to question Chavez.
“If she does not appear I may be asking for a mistrial,” he said. “If we start a trial, impanel a jury and Ms. Chavez does not show up, I will have a problem.”
He added that he doesn’t expect that to happen, but he wanted to warn the court and state in advance that testimony from Chavez is necessary for Hargrove’s defense.
Donohue said the trail will start with jury selection with the goal of identifying 12 jurors and three alternates to serve in the case.
Hargrove has been held in the Benton County Jail since his arrest in April 2017.