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KNDU Top Stories

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PASCO, WA- Another murder trial in the Tri-Cities has been pushed back until next year.

Ramon Garcia Morales and his brother have been in Franklin County Jail for nearly two years. They are accused of killing a man and critically wounding his wife in their Pasco home in December 2008.

The trial has run into several delays as prosecutors and public defenders argue Morales' mental state. The judge has ruled Morales competent to stand trial, but the defense team says Morales won't speak or respond as they try to prepare his defense.

The judge has re-scheduled the trial for early January. The judge is also considering appointing a Guardian ad Litem, who would review the evidence and make decisions in Morales' best interest, which could include a prosecutor's plea offer.

Franklin County has several murder cases that have been pushed back until after the holidays. Prosecutors must also travel to Spokane in November for the trial of Vicente Ruiz, accused of five murders 25 years ago. That trial is expected to last about six weeks. If it goes longer, public defender Kevin Holt says that could cause further delays in Morales' trial. Holt is on the defense team of both Ruiz and Morales.


(AP)-- A new study says laws that ban texting while driving don't reduce wrecks and might actually increase risks.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's claim research arm released its findings Tuesday in Kansas City.

The insurance industry group compiled data from California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington immediately before and after driver texting was banned.

The study found the number of crashes actually increased in three of those states after the bans were implemented.

Institute spokesman Russ Rader says the increase might be the result of drivers trying to keep phones out of view while texting. Highway officials say enforcement of the bans is just starting.


PROSSER, Wash.- Wineries in Prosser are getting a new neighbor- a distillery. "Blue Flame Spirits" is opening later this week, as a tasting room and place where you can buy their liquor.

Blue Flame only has vodka right now, but will also offer gin and specialize in whiskey. The distillery will also focus on using all local products. Brian Morton, the owner, says, "We currently are making the offered vodka out of merlot grapes, so that's another source that's local right here in Prosser, some of the best stuff around." Blue Flame Spirits will have a grand opening this Thursday starting at 11:00 a.m. Morton says the first 500 bottles sold will be numbered and signed. Bottles range from $25 to 30. Blue Flame is located off Lee Road in Prosser, where Whitstran brewery used to be.

Blue Flame is actually one of two distilleries opening their doors in the area this week. Black Heron in West Richland opens Friday at 2:00 p.m.