TACOMA, Wash. — Police here on Tuesday tracked down a key prosecution witness whose disappearance delayed the start of Pierce County Superior Court Judge Michael Hecht's trial on charges of harassment and patronizing a prostitute.
The arrest of Joseph Pfeiffer, 21, came on the same day that assistant attorney general John Hillman, who is prosecuting Hecht, reported he is having difficulty communicating with two other important witnesses against the judge.
Joseph Hesketh IV, 25, and Michael Mundorff, 50, recently moved to Seattle and are living on the streets, making it difficult to stay in contact with them, Hillman wrote in court documents.
Hillman has alleged in charging documents that Hecht threatened to kill Hesketh last year, forming the basis for the felony harassment charge against the judge. Mundorff, who is Hesketh's boyfriend, says he witnessed the alleged threat and has been subpoenaed to testify against Hecht.
Hillman wrote in pleadings filed Wednesday that he is worried the two won't show up for Hecht's Oct. 12 trial date. He asked King County Judge James Cayce to order them to submit to videotaped depositions if they surface before then to preserve their testimony if they are unavailable at trial because of their transient lifestyle.
Cayce granted the request and also ordered that Pfeiffer be held in jail in lieu of $75,000 bail until his videotaped testimony could be secured.
Hecht's attorney, Wayne Fricke, opposed taking Pfeiffer's testimony via video. Now that authorities have tracked him down, they should be able to ensure that he appears at trial, he said. Fricke added that he wanted to get Pfeiffer himself before a jury.
Pfeiffer is likely to testify before the camera on Monday, then be released from jail.
Detectives arrested Pfeiffer without incident about 10:30 a.m. in the Olympia area, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said. Pfeiffer recently had been staying with friends in Thurston County, Fulghum said.
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