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DA focuses on sole murder case

— Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley was able to clear a large stack of files off the left corner of his desk with the unexpected fatal heart attack of murder suspect Roark David Smith in mid-January.

“For the first time in what seems like forever — at least since 2009 — I don’t have a pending murder case in my office,” said Nisley. “It was a little bit of a shock to have the case end like that, it all happened so quickly.”

Smith, 53, died Jan. 15 and during that week Nisley was involved in negotiations to resolve two other major cases to clear his calendar for the six-week trial tied to the killings of Patti Hong, 46, and her son Randy Hong, 23 on Feb. 25, 2009.

The district attorney was able to secure guilty pleas that week in the cases of Lori Fiegenbaum, 51, the former bookkeeper for Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, who admitted to stealing $86,000 over a five-year period and Carlos Medina, 20, who confessed to causing the death of Mark Labonte, 20, his childhood friend, during a Sept. 9 fight.

As a result of those negotiations, Fiegenbaum is now serving a one-year jail sentence before paying back $94,000, which includes additional costs incurred by the center as a result of her actions.

Medina is behind bars for 22 months, followed by three years of probation.

“It’s time to take a look at how my office can help out with the Scott Erlenbush case now that there’s a break,” said Nisley.

Scott Erlenbush, 46, of Dallesport, was found dead of blunt force trauma to the head Aug. 24, 2012, in the parking lot of a downtown business.

No suspects have yet been developed in the case that is being investigated by Police Sgt. Detective Dan Nelson. The Erlenbush family is offering a $1,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer.

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