A trial date has been set for Saul Octavio Morales, a Hubbard man accused of murdering a Woodburn woman in 2015. A 35-day, 12-person jury trial is scheduled for September and October 2018 in Marion County Circuit Court.
Morales, 29, was identified last year as the sole suspect in the murder of Brenda Bautista, a 36-year-old Woodburn resident.
In October 2015, Bautista's body was found by a passer-by on Pirelli Lane Northeast, a gravel road near Hubbard that runs parallel to Interstate 5.
A few days after Bautista's body was found, an autopsy determined that she had died of multiple gunshot wounds. The Marion County Sheriff's Office announced it was investigating the case as a homicide.
Morales was indicted on one count of murder in October 2016. A grand jury changed the indictment to the more severe charge of aggravated murder in November 2016. Aggravated murder is a capital offense in Oregon, punishable by the death penalty.
The November indictment states that Bautista "was a witness in a criminal proceeding, the death being related to the performance of Brenda Bautista in the justice system."
Morales is being detained in the Oregon State Penitentiary where he is serving sentences for unrelated charges of felon in possession of a firearm, which he pleaded guilty to in January 2016, and fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence, which Morales pleaded guilty to in May 2016.
If convicted of aggravated murder, Morales could be sentenced to either life imprisonment, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or death.
His next court date is a status check hearing on Sept. 7.