Tapia Rodriguez trial tentatively set for Oct. 31

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Tapia Rodriguez

EPHRATA — A tentative trial date of Oct. 31 has been set for a Quincy man accused of the December 2016 murder of a Quincy woman.

Gustavo Tapia Rodriguez, 40, is charged with first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances in the death of Jill Sundberg, whose body was found Dec. 22, 2016, near George. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense said they were still assembling their cases, but both said they should be ready to proceed by Oct. 31. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 29 to determine if the trial will start as scheduled. Attorneys estimated the trial should last two to three weeks.

In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Tapia Rodriguez is charged with kidnapping, drive-by shooting, acting with deliberate cruelty and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Two other men charged with Sundberg’s murder have pleaded guilty. Ambrosio Mendez Villanueva, 26, Quincy, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in January, while Julio Cesar Albarran Varona, 27, also of Quincy, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in July.

Sundberg allegedly was kidnapped from the Shady Tree RV Park near Quincy in December 2016 after getting into an argument with Tapia Rodriguez, according to previous stories on the case in the Columbia Basin Herald.

Sundberg was shot several times in the head, according to police reports; investigators found 13 shell casings near her body. Her body was left alongside the Old Vantage Highway, about 1 1/2 miles from Silica Road.

Tapia Rodriguez also is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Arturo Sosa, a Royal City man who was murdered Dec. 9, 2016. Fernando Marcos Gutierrez, 25, Quincy, also was charged with first-degree murder in the Sosa case.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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