Amanda Weisbrod

Editor's note: This article was updated at 2:00 p.m. on May 3, 2019 with the correct name for Ronald D. Lee.

At Wednesday’s plea hearings, attorneys for both Ronald D. Lee and Steve Hamilton requested an extension of 60 days in order to further review evidence.

The new plea hearing is set for 1:15 p.m. June 25, and the defendants will appear in court via telecomm from the Union County Jail.

Lee and Hamilton were arrested after indictments issued by a Union County Grand Jury following an investigation by the Union County Major Crimes Team into the November 2018 murder of Loretta Williams, of Cove. Both men were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, although Lee was arrested in late February, about four weeks before Hamilton.

The Observer reported Williams called 911 at approximately 1:40 a.m. Nov. 17 to report a man in her backyard. The dispatchers heard her confront the man and then heard a loud noise. Deputies and troopers arrived within minutes and found Williams dead of one or more apparent gunshot wounds.

Lee and Williams were married until July 2018, according to court records.

While bail has not been set for Lee, the court is holding a hearing at 4 p.m. April 29 to set bail for Hamilton, who has been held without bail since he was arrested March 21.

Under Oregon Revised Statute 135.240, a defendant has a right to post bail, unless the individual is charged with murder, aggravated murder or treason, in which case “release shall be denied when the proof is evident or the presumption strong that the person is guilty,” according to www.oregon
laws.org.

Hamilton’s lawyer, Kara Davis of Pendleton, argued this point at the plea hearing Wednesday afternoon, and Kelsie McDaniel, who is representing the state as the Union County District Attorney, concurred.

“The burden is on the state, according to the courts, to prove, and … bail has to be set until the state has met their burden,” Davis said. “I don’t think my client really has the money to bail out, so I think it’s kind of a moot point, but I do think bail needs to be set.”

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