Key material witness in murder case now in custody after evading court hearing
IDAHO FALLS — A magistrate judge ordered a key witness to remain in jail on $35,000 bail after it was found he was allegedly evading testifying against the man accused of killing Stephanie Eldredge.
Eddie D. Arellano, 57, appeared in court Monday and is being held in the Bonneville County Jail after Magistrate Judge Mark Riddoch signed a material witness warrant on Thursday. The warrant was issued to ensure Arellano testify against Kenneth Ryan Jones, 30, at a preliminary hearing on July 31.
Jones is charged with second-degree murder for killing Eldredge. She disappeared from her Idaho Falls apartment on Aug. 20, 2007 and investigators found her body nearly three years later in a shallow grave in the foothills east of Idaho Falls. According to court documents, police say Jones told Arellano he hit Eldredge in the back of the head while she was in the bathroom then got on top of her and held her down, suffocating her until she died.
The preliminary hearing for Jones was initially scheduled for July 11. Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark asked to continue the hearing citing “witness availability issues” as the reason why both the state and defense needed a delay. Arellano was that witness.
“There is one witness who, at this point, I’m of the opinion that he is evading service of process,” Clark said in court on July 11. “We have attempted to serve him (a subpoena) repeatedly over the last several weeks.”
According to court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Idaho Falls Police Detective Jessica Marley used several means to contact Arellano to appear for the preliminary hearing on July 11. Bonneville County Sheriff deputies attempted to serve Arellano on May 23 with a subpoena. Throughout the course of this attempt of service, “(A Deputy) talked to Eddie on the phone who told him he would not meet (the deputy) for service (of the subpoena) and also told him to put a warrant for his arrest because he would not testify against anyone.”
“He (the witness) called and indicated that he is not (going to) show up for subpoena and some other expletives with that,” Clark said. “That was the first indication and since then, Detective Marley attempted personally and had those communications since that initial interaction.”
Marley writes she continually tried to contact Arellano a dozen times about serving the subpoena to testify in court, according to the affidavit. According to Marley’s report, he agreed to meet with her on two separate occasions to which he did not show up. The last attempt to contact Arellano was on July 10 through text, to which he did not respond.
“The subpoena being outstanding for him, the need for him to show up, etc. He’s chosen not to voluntarily participate in that process,” Clark said. “So what I’m going to ask of the court today is to require of that participation.”
Arellano was ordered on Thursday to show cause as to why he was “avoiding service of process and to compel his attendance at the preliminary hearing.” At this hearing, Riddoch signed off on the warrant to bring Arellano to the Bonneville County Jail.
At Monday’s arraignment, Arellano told Riddoch he was in the process of moving to Idaho during the attempt to serve him the subpoena. He said he never was served that subpoena and tried to make arraignments to attend the preliminary hearing.
“It’s a failure of miscommunication,” Arellano said.
He says he is the one who volunteered the information in the Eldredge case and “it’s not like someone is forcing me to do this.”
Riddoch did not buy what Arellano had to say and said because of Marley’s report, there is enough evidence he avoided having to testify against Jones.
According to a subpoena issued to Arellano in jail Monday, he will be held in contempt of court if he disobeys the subpoena.
Jones and Arellano are expected to appear at the preliminary hearing on July 31 at the Bonneville County Courthouse.