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King County Prosecutor
Dan Satterberg

Case Updates: July 2, 2014


State v. Michael Allan Halgren, State v. William L. “J.R.” Phillip, Jr, State v. Donald Turpin



Case Updates: July 2, 2014

Guilty Plea in 1980 Cold Case Homicide: State v. Michael Allan Halgren: Convicted sex offender Michael Allan Halgren pled guilty last week to a charge of Murder in the Second Degree for the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Bellevue 34 years ago.  DNA evidence linked the defendant to the murder of Susan Barbara Lowe, who was found strangled in her apartment in 1980.  Halgren, who has been in custody since 2002 after being civilly committed as a sexually violent predator, was charged in 2013 with Lowe’s murder.  Halgren, 58, faces a minimum sentence of 17 years up to a maximum of life in prison.  Although a crime from 1980 falls under the state’s prior indeterminate sentencing system, the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board has the option of keeping Halgren incarcerated up to life.  If the defendant is ever granted parole, he would be returned to the Special Commitment Center. “There is a special satisfaction when we can solve a murder more than three decades old using modern forensic science,” said Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney.  “It is due to the dedication of the Bellevue Police Department, the Crime Lab and our Cold Case Project that this man, who thought he had gotten away with murder, will now spend up to the rest of his life in prison,” he added. Halgren will be sentenced next month.  The case was handled by Senior DPA Kristin Richardson, DPA Leah Taguba, and paralegal Sue Trujillo. The case was investigated by Detective Jerry Johnson of the Bellevue Police Department.


Sentencing in Murder of Kent Video Producer: State v. William L. “J.R.” Phillip, Jr: A Portland man was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison for the fatal stabbing of Seth Frankel in 2010 in Auburn.  A jury convicted the defendant William L. “J.R.” Phillip, Jr. in April of Murder in the First Degree.  Frankel was a well-known video producer for the City of Kent. Phillip became jealous of Frankel after a woman broke off her relationship with Phillip to start seeing Frankel again.  In May of 2010, Phillip stabbed Frankel to death in Frankel’s Auburn apartment.  Auburn Police detectives tracked Phillip by using his cell phone records and collected DNA from the plastic zip ties he used to confine Frankel, the same ties that Phillip also had access to at his job in Portland. Phillip, 33, faced a sentence range of 20 to 26 ½ years in prison.  The case was handled by Senior DPAs Wyman Yip and Patrick Hinds, paralegal Angela Blocki and victim advocate Karen Kunde.  Detective Jason Blake of the Auburn Police Department investigated the case.


Sentencing in Largest Wire Theft in State History: State v. Donald Turpin: A local man was sentenced last month to nearly 12 ½ years in prison for stealing 4.3 miles of copper wiring from the Sound Transit Light Rail System.  A jury convicted Donald Howard Turpin, 55, of Burglary Second Degree, Theft First Degree with a metal theft aggravator, Trafficking in Stolen Property First Degree, and Leading Organized Crime.  It’s considered the largest known metal theft in Washington State.  A co-defendant, Lee Russell Skelly, 45, pled guilty to Theft First Degree.  Turpin was also ordered to pay over $1.3 million in restitution to Sound Transit.  The defendants committed the thefts by entering maintenance hatches in a tunnel that runs below the elevated portion of the light rail between the SeaTac and Rainer Beach rail stations.  They would remove the copper wire, which was designed to ground “stray voltage” in the track system, by using standard bolt cutters.  The investigation focused on Turpin after detectives found DNA evidence on items in the tunnel.  Turpin made approximately $50,000 in profit.  Turpin had a state issued business license which would allow him to scrap the metal with little if any scrutiny by the scrap metal buyers.  The replacement cost of the 55,000 pounds of copper wire was estimated at over $1.3 million; the copper itself was worth over $200,000.  The case was handled by Senior DPA Amanda Froh, DPA Peter Lewicki and paralegal Monicka Ly-Smith.  King County Sheriff’s Detectives Paula Bates, Ryan Abbott, and JD Williams investigated the case.

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