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Wednesday, July 3, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Pacific Northwest

Moses Lake Trial To Be Open

Seattle Times Staff: Seattle Times News Services

SPOKANE - Hearings on whether Barry Loukaitis - accused of fatally shooting a Moses Lake teacher and two classmates - should be tried for murder as an adult must be open to the public, an appeals-court panel has ruled.

The three-member state Court of Appeals panel yesterday reversed a Grant County judge's ruling that barred the public and reporters from hearing a psychiatrist's testimony on the 15-year-old Loukaitis' mental state. Superior Court Judge Evan Sperline's April ruling was challenged by the Cowles Publishing Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review in Spokane.

Guillermo Romero, Loukaitis' public defender, said he had not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

Killed in the shootings were Loukaitis' teacher, Leona Caires, and two 14-year-old classmates, Manuel Vela and Arnold Fritz. Classmate Natalie Hintz, 13, was seriously injured. Loukaitis is charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault.

Prosecutors argue the Moses Lake boy should spend his life in prison if he is convicted. He would be released when he turned 21 if he is convicted as a juvenile.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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