VALE — Two Ontario people are heading to trial following a plea hearing for their charges related to an April homicide in Ontario. Both Nicholas Tucker, formerly of Fruitland, and Starr Bales, formerly of Vale, are facing multiple felonies related to the death.
During a Wednesday plea hearing, Bales and Tucker both entered not guilty pleas to the felony counts of murder and conspiracy to commit a class A felony.
A 12-person jury trial is currently scheduled for March 4 for both Bales and Tucker.
The murder charge is a Measure 11 crime, which means it carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence, in this case, 25 years.
The shooting was reported on April 23 when a caller reported shots fired at 12:49 a.m. on Northwest Sixth Street in Ontario, according to a news release from Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe.
Within minutes, officers arrived and found the victim, Raymond Kelly, 21, of Ontario, inside the residence.
Initial observations at the scene showed evidence that the shot came from outside the bedroom window, and a homicide investigation proceeded from that point. Following interviews with witnesses and neighbors, Tucker and Bales were arrested later that morning.
Ontario Police was assisted by Oregon State Police, the OSP Crime Lab, Malheur County Sheriff’s Office and the High Desert Drug Task Force.