Jury hears opening statements in the second degree murder trial of Melvin O’Rourke


Asotin County Court jurors heard what the prosecution and the defense say happened on the night of July 30th, 2015, that left Duane Hettinger shot dead, and Melvin O'Rourke charged with second degree murder.

"The evidence you are going to see and hear over the next three to four days, is not going to demonstrate that this is a case of self-defense,” Said Asotin County Prosecutor, Ben Nichols as he began his opening statement.

He laid out a timeline of the events leading up to the shooting death of Hettinger. Nichols said that the two had known each other for over a year.

"On May 17th, 2015 Mr. O'Rourke reported to the police that Mr. Hettinger had stolen $400 from him."

Nichols stated that this possible theft shows the motive for the killing. "He was in my house robbing me again.” Nichols quoted, ”Those are his words, he was robbing me and I shot him."

Nichols said O'Rourke's story changed several times. One version was that he claimed Hettinger broke into his house, he believed, to burglarize him and he shot him in self-defense.

But, Nichols says the evidence shows that was not the case.

"Mr. Hettinger was shot saying no, and that bullet went in his arm, through his chest and out his back. This is not a case of self-defense."

However, O'Rourke's defense attorney Raymond Bottomly, told the court there is a medical explanation for why his story changed. "My client has Parkinson’s,” He said to the jury, ”It affects his ability to get up, affects his ability to remember things. As you are presented the interviews, I think you will find it painfully obvious that my client can get clouded in his recollections."

Bottomly also gave reason for why O'Rourke would feel threatened by Hettinger. "Mel had been assaulted by him to the extent that criminal charges had been brought about, and that there was a protection order keeping Mr. Hettinger from contacting Melvin," Bottomly explained.

He went onto say that because of this history, Hettinger didn't have to say anything threatening. And when he lunged at O'Rourke, that was enough to make him fear for his safety.

Bottomly said, "He said repeatedly to the officers and I believe you will hear testimony to the same affect that he felt threatened just by his demeanor."

The trial is expected to last through the end of the week.

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