MOUNT VERNON — The trial of a Mount Vernon woman accused of plotting to have her ex-husband killed began Tuesday.
Vanessa Valdiglesias-Lavalle, 37, is charged in Skagit County Superior Court with solicitation to commit murder and solicitation to commit first-degree assault with a noxious substance after she allegedly tried to convince one of her children to kill the the child’s father.
According to court documents, Mount Vernon police received a report in June about a conversation the 10-year-old boy recorded with his cellphone in which Valdiglesias-Lavalle can allegedly be heard telling the boy to tamper with his father’s food or drink using “venom” or rat poison.
In his opening statement Tuesday, Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich told jurors that while there was no promise of money to be exchanged, Valdiglesias-Lavalle promised her oldest son that if the boy would poison his father the boy and his younger brother would be able to live with her forever.
The father has primary custody of the boys, Weyrich said.
Valdiglesias-Lavalle’s lawyer, public defender Adam Yanasak, told jurors in his opening statement that the evidence would prove Valdiglesias-Lavalle was not a vengeful or vindictive woman who tried to hire her son to commit murder, but that she was instead a “hardworking, loving mother, who has a tendency ... to overshare with her children.”
“You’re going to see that Ms. Valdiglesias-Lavalle was doing the best she could and that sometimes she tended to talk too much without a proper filter,” Yanasak said.
The conversation between mother and son, was “inappropriate,” Yanasak said, but not illegal. The boy, Yanasak said, had a “secret desire” to get his mother in trouble.
The boy was the first to take the witness stand, testifying that he did not like visiting his mother’s house and that on the day he made the recording he heard his mother talking to his younger brother about “bad stuff” and that’s why he decided to join the conversation and to record it.
Parts of the recording, which included both audio and video, were played for the jury.
The boy’s father followed his son to the witness stand, saying that after he picked his children up that day, he was shocked when his son played the recording for him.
He did not immediately call police because the boy’s 11th birthday was the next day and he didn’t want to affect the celebration, he said.
While he had planned to go to police the day after the boy’s birthday, police had already been alerted by the mother of one of the boy’s friends with whom he had shared the recording.
The boy’s father is set to continue testimony Wednesday, and the younger brother is also expected to testify during what is expected to be a two-day trial. A verdict is expected by the end of the week.
Valdiglesias-Lavalle’s case is the second to be held in Skagit County since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic required the court to suspend much of its operations, including jury trials.
It is taking place in what is being called Courtroom 5, which was put together this summer out of three former county hearing rooms.
Except for the witnesses, who is behind plexiglass, everyone in the courtroom is required to wear a mask at all times, and the witness stand is disinfected between each witness.
In an effort to allow for public access while maintaining physical distancing, the trial is available on Zoom.