The child rape trial against former Triangle Motors owner Jay Dean Douglas has been pushed back for an eighth time after Douglas on Thursday fired his third attorney in the case, citing a communication breakdown.
Douglas, who turns 58 on Aug. 22, was previously represented by Christopher Baum of Chehalis, but Douglas dismissed him on Thursday because “communication is not up to par and (the) trial would become challenging,” according to court records.
Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Michael Evans on Thursday ordered Douglas to appear on Tuesday to set a new trial date. He was originally set to go to trial on that day.
Douglas and Heather Hughes, both of Longview, are charged with child rape and sex trafficking. They were arrested in March 2018 on allegations that Hughes frequently took a 12-year-old girl to Douglas’ home and car dealership and allowed him to engage in sexual acts with her in 2017. Douglas has been in and out of jail since.
Hughes’ trial has been repeatedly delayed to occur one week after Douglas’, indicating the prosecutor’s office may wish to call her to testify against Douglas. The prosecutor’s office has listed her as a witness in his case. Hughes’ trial is still set to begin Aug. 27, but may be delayed again.
Douglas is charged with second-degree child rape, two counts of second-degree child molestation, commercial sexual abuse of a minor, second-degree human trafficking, dealing in child porn in the first- and second-degree, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to manufacture or deliver and two counts of bail jumping.
Douglas and Hughes admitted to possessing explicit photos of the victim to police during the investigation, according to police documents filed in the case. Douglas, however, denied having sexual contact with the child.
He is currently held in the Cowlitz County Jail.
The Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office has indicated it will seek an exceptional sentence against Douglas above his standard sentencing range.
Douglas’ first attorney in the case, Dan Morgan, withdrew in 2018 only a day after being appointed, citing a conflict of interest. In 2010, Douglas was sentenced to one year in prison for possessing child pornography and trying to extort his former defense attorney, Jim Morgan (who is Dan Morgan’s father), whom he had accused of poorly representing him. Douglas bashed Morgan on a reader board at his used car lot and started a website to publicly scold Morgan.
Since Morgan withdrew and was replaced with Kevin Blondin, there have been eight delays in efforts to bring Douglas to trial. (See breakout box.)
In addition, a May 2018 fire destroyed Douglas’ former Longview car lot, Triangle Motors, along with 10 vehicles and a boat. There were no injuries, and Douglas, who was the only suspect, told investigators at the time that he was in the repair garage when he saw the office building on fire.
The day after the fire, a reader board sign above the car lot said, “Thank you Cowlitz Co. for 36 incredible years.”
A Longview Fire Department investigation could not determine the cause of the fire, and police sought no charges for it. The property was sold in February 2019 from the David J. Douglas living trust to Pucci Davis Properties LLC, according to records from the Cowlitz County Auditor’s Office.