Trial dates to be determined today

HERMISTON – Because of COVID-19, all of Umatilla County’s major criminal trials are taking place in Courtroom 5 in Hermiston. Two major trials have been scheduled for overlapping time periods in early December, which won’t work. Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus said trial readiness hearings are set for today (Monday) on both of those cases, so he will learn which trial will be given precedence.

One is the armed robbery of Circle K in Pendleton in July. Ivory Ann Sylvester, 32, faces several felony charges.

“She has been charged with robbery in the first degree, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, theft in the second degree, and five counts of theft in the first-degree,” Primus said.

Her alleged accomplice, Walter Higgins IV, 42, of Nevada, has entered a guilty plea but has not yet been sentenced. Primus said he can’t comment about the plea bargain until after the sentencing.

The other trial is that of Christopher Avlonitis, 48, and Charles Falconer, 38. It’s been alleged that Avlonitis was pursuing Falconer in Milton-Freewater in late October. When the vehicles collided, Christy Breeding was ejected from Falconer’s car and died.

“I don’t think it was road rage or an accident,” Primus said. “I think this was more of a situation where you had one individual that was trying to run down another individual, though not in the idea of a road rage in that sense. A pursuit is what I would refer to it as.”

The crash occurred at the intersection of Highway 11 and Northeast Fifth Avenue.