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King County Prosecutor
Dan Satterberg


The Prosecutor's Post: Vol. 6, Issue 2

Summary

Dan Satterberg Joins in Call for Tougher DUI Laws . . . Prosecutors Succeed in Pushing Important Legislation in Olympia . . . April 21-27 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week . . . Victims of 1995 Courthouse Shooting Remembered . . . Meet the PAO’s Mortgage Fraud Team . . . Case Updates: State v Brenda Nicholas, State v. Robert Hitt, and State v. Wendell Adams, Jr.

Story

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THE PROSECUTOR’S POST Vol. 6, Issue 2

Dan Satterberg Joins in Call for Tougher DUI Laws

Last year, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (WAPA) fought hard for increased prison terms for the crimes of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.  Although not every increase requested by the prosecutors was enacted, the Legislature did respond, passing HB 2216, and now drunk drivers who kill on our roadways face almost twice the prison sentence they did before. Recent tragedies in Wedgewood and along Highway 520 have caught the attention of Legislators wanting to improve our laws to stop repeat impaired drivers on our  roadways.  Prosecutors started the session with early support for HB 1482, a comprehensive bill that eliminated lesser sentencing options for DUI defendants, and provided sentencing enhancements for wrong-way drunk drivers. Unfortunately, the bill was not voted on prior to the legislative cutoff.

After the recent tragedies, many of the ideas in HB 1482 have been revived in Senate Bill 5902 and the Governor’s new proposed legislation, HB 2030. County prosecutors work every day to hold impaired drivers accountable by seeking court imposed conditions including the use of ignition interlock and alcohol monitoring devices.  Prosecutors hope the renewed interest in DUI legislation will lead to increased resources for law enforcement to monitor compliance for charged defendants, additional technology to monitor repeat offenders and new tools such as specially marked identifications for individuals who continue to drive drunk.


 

Prosecutors Succeed in Pushing Important Legislation in Olympia

Dan Satterberg and WAPA pushed for several important pieces of legislation in Olympia this session.  Those efforts are starting to pay off with several successful votes:

  • HB 1114: Filling a Gap for Violent Offenders: Prosecutors worked with State Rep. Jamie Pedersen to address a gap between the criminal justice system and our civil commitment system for violent offenders who are deemed mentally incompetent to stand criminal trial.  The legislation requires an evaluation by the state hospital of all felony offenders for civil commitment and allows the evaluator to take into account the recent allegations of violence against the person in determining whether civil commitment is appropriate.  The bill has passed both houses but with some minor differences.  Once the bill is reconciled, it will be ready for the Governor’s signature.  

  • HB 1383: Protection Order for Stalking Victims: Testifying before the Legislature with victims of stalking, Dan Satterberg and WAPA successfully sought the creation of a new Stalking Protection Order.  Current anti-harassment orders are insufficient protection in these rare but dangerous cases of stalking.  The new law will allow for victims to petition a district or municipal court for a Stalking Protection Order, raising the awareness amongst law enforcement and the courts that the subject of the order is engaged in dangerous behavior.

  • SB 5149: Sentencing Enhancement for Pharmacy Robberies: With the rise in street value of Oxycontin and other prescription drugs, Police and Prosecutors have observed a rise in the robbery of pharmacies.  Often times pharmacy employees are trapped in their confined setting, suffering verbal threats and potential acts of violence, not unlike bank tellers.  SB 5149 creates a one year sentencing enhancement for robbery defendants convicted of targeting pharmacies for high value drugs.

  • HB 1108: Eliminating the Marital Exception to Rape & Indecent Liberties: Prosecutors joined State Rep. Roger Goodman in his legislation to eliminate the legal bar that prevented police and prosecutors from pursuing rape and indecent liberties charges in situations where the victim failed to consent to sexual contact or intercourse, because that victim was married to the offender.  Washington was one of only a handful of states to still have the marital exception on the books.



April 21-27 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Next week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This annual event is designed to increase public awareness of victim rights and available victim services.  The theme for the 2013 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is “New Challenges, New Solutions.” The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime chose the theme as part of an effort at transforming victim services in the 21st century.  On Friday, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg will be the keynote speaker at the King County Victim Service Center’s training agenda for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.  In his remarks, Satterberg will be noting that April 19 is also the 18th anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing that claimed the lives of 168 innocent people.  “I am in awe of those who make it their life’s work to bring healing to crime victims,” Satterberg said.  “It is abundantly clear that we also need expertise in helping to heal entire communities devastated by senseless criminal acts,” he added. 

The King County Prosecutor’s Office (PAO) makes victim advocacy a top priority of the office.  Victims of crime often feel helpless in the aftermath of a crime.  They may feel afraid, isolated, forgotten and alone, or they may be left financially devastated.  The PAO makes sure victims have a voice in the criminal justice system and are connected with a wide-range of services to help crime victims. 
We are fortunate to have a network of victim services here in King County. The men and women in the PAO work hard to reach out to crime victims, connect them to services, and advocate for them.  We have advocates to help victims in the following areas: Obtain financial restitution from offenders; help with domestic violence protection orders; and help victims and their families understand and go through the trial process in sexual assault, child abuse, vehicular homicide, homicide, elder abuse, and domestic violence cases.

Each of our Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys (DPAs) and administrative staff knows that service in support of victims is at the core of our work. It is what makes our work important and meaningful to the community and to us. If you are, or know, the victim of a crime and are in need of services, the following additional community resources can help:

Take the time this month to remember the victims of crime in our county, and to appreciate the people who have devoted their careers to helping victims recover.


 

Victims of 1995 Courthouse Shooting Remembered

Last month marked the 18th anniversary of a shooting at the King County Courthouse that claimed the lives of three women and an unborn baby.  It was a crime that shocked our community and led to changes regarding courthouse security.  The shooting occurred during a divorce proceeding. Timothy Blackwell was convicted of Aggravated Murder for shooting his estranged wife Susanna Blackwell, and two of her friends, Phoebe Dizon and Veronica Laureta, as they waited in a hallway outside a courtroom.  Susanna, who was pregnant, was also shot in the abdomen, which killed her unborn baby.  Every year, a candlelight vigil is held in the park next to the King County Courthouse to remember the shooting victims and other women and children who have lost their lives to domestic violence. 

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Staff from the PAO’s Domestic Violence Unit with Prosecutor Satterberg at last month’s API/Chaya candlelight vigil for DV victims.

This annual event is sponsored by the API Safety Center and Chaya.  The staff of the King County Prosecutor’s Office and others in the criminal justice system join in this vigil each year when we pause to remember Susanna, Phoebe, and Veronica and the other victims of domestic violence in our community.


 

Meet the PAO’s Mortgage Fraud Team

Mortgage Fraud Department

L-R: DPA Hugo Torres, Investigator Linda Williamson and DPA Jennifer Atchison of the PAO, Mortgage Fraud Team.

In 2009, the PAO forged a partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) in an effort to crack down on mortgage fraud.  With funding from DFI, the PAO is able to staff its Mortgage Fraud Unit with two DPAs and a mortgage fraud investigator.  Our new mortgage fraud team includes DPA Hugo Torres, DPA Jennifer Atchison, and mortgage fraud investigator Linda Williamson. 

Mortgage fraud DPA Hugo Torres was also cross-designated in February as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.  The cross jurisdiction allows cases to be screened for possible federal prosecution.  Changes to state laws have made it easier to prosecute mortgage fraud cases in state court, but frequently, defendants face tougher sentences in federal court as the federal system does not allow a 50% "good time" reduction in sentences. Defendants who are prosecuted federally may also be subject to supervision by U.S. Probation.

Mortgage frauds are some of the most complex cases prosecuted by the PAO’s Economic Crimes Unit.  Mortgage fraud can involve an elaborate scheme which is organized and carried out by a number of individuals, some unwittingly.

These cases are financially complex, tend to be document-intensive and are often difficult and time-consuming to investigate and prosecute.


 

Case Updates:

Guilty Verdict in 2011 Bitter Lake Homicide: State v Brenda Nicholas:  A jury returned a guilty verdict in the case of State v. Brenda Nicholas for the robbery and stabbing death of Francis Patrick Fleming, 70, at a senior independent-living facility in Seattle’s Bitter Lake neighborhood in December 2011.  Nicholas was convicted of Murder First Degree with a deadly weapon as charged.  Nicholas, 46, will face a sentence range of 274 to 357 months in prison.  A sentencing date has not been set.  Two co-defendants pleaded guilty last year for their involvement.  Charles Jungbluth pleaded guilty to Murder First Degree with a deadly weapon enhancement for his part in the robbery and murder and faces a sentence of 264 to 344 months in prison.  A third co-defendant, Gilda Ramirez, was originally charged with murder but pleaded guilty to Robbery, Burglary, and Trafficking in Stolen Property, all in the first degree.  Ramirez also pleaded guilty to Theft Second Degree and Attempted Theft First Degree regarding unrelated thefts.  Ramirez faces a sentence of 57 to 99 months in prison.  The case was handled by Senior DPAs Carla Carlstrom and Page Ulrey.

Guilty Verdict in U-District Attack: State v. Robert Hitt:  A jury has found sex offender Robert D. Hitt guilty as charged on nine felony charges for breaking into a home in the University District in March 2012 and threatening six young women at knifepoint.  Hitt was convicted last month on charges of Burglary First Degree, two counts of Robbery First Degree, and six counts of Kidnapping First Degree, all with deadly weapon enhancements.  After breaking into the home, Hitt tied up the victims, threatened them at knifepoint, and forced one of them to remove her clothes.  Two of the women who were in other rooms at the house were able to call police.  The burglary and one of the kidnap charges include sexual motivation aggravators.  Hitt will face a life sentence under the state's "Two Strikes" law for repeat sex offenders.  He will be sentenced tomorrow.  Hitt, 35, was released from prison two months before the U-District attack after serving a 10-year sentence on a Rape First Degree conviction for raping a woman at knifepoint in 2001.  The case was handled by Senior DPA Emily Petersen.

Guilty Verdict in Kent Shooting: State v. Wendell Adams, Jr.:  Wendell Adams Jr. was convicted of Assault in the First Degree with a firearm enhancement and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree during a bench trial for a July 8, 2012 shooting in the parking lot of a Kent apartment building.  The victim knocked on Adams's door at the Summerwalk Villa Apartments, along with the defendant's girlfriend and her mother.  Adams came out of the apartment with a handgun, and following a brief argument in the parking lot fired multiple shots at the victim, hitting him once in the lower abdomen, before running from the scene.  Heroic efforts by residents of the apartment complex, first responders, and three surgeons at Harborview Medical Center saved the victim's life.  Adams, 27, who had been previously convicted of multiple juvenile and adult felonies including most recently first-degree robbery, was sentenced in March to 25 years in prison.  The case was handled by Senior DPA Terry Carlstrom.

Guilty Verdict in Robbery of Medical Marijuana Provider: State v. Daniel Bartels:  Daniel Bartels was convicted of Robbery in the First Degree with a firearm enhancement for robbing a medical marijuana provider of marijuana and the victim’s wallet.  A jury convicted Bartels last month.  Bartels arranged to buy a pound of marijuana from the victim, a medical marijuana provider.  Unbeknownst to the victim, Bartels and two co-defendants who pled guilty to Robbery in the First Degree prior to trial were actually planning to rob him.  On December 14, 2011, the victim went to Bartels's apartment complex in Des Moines.  Bartels got in the victim's vehicle; his two co-defendants then approached on either side of the vehicle, pointed a gun at the victim, and stole his marijuana and wallet.  The victim suffered a grazing gunshot wound to the head and returned fire, hitting Bartels and one of the other co-defendants.  Bartels, 26, is due to be sentenced on May 3rd, and faces a standard range of 91-101 months in prison.  The case was handled by Senior DPA Terry Carlstrom.


 

Community & Speaking Events

Dan Satterberg enjoys attending and speaking at community events.

Dan recently spoke at:

  • Korean American Bar Association Banquet.

  • API/Chaya Candelight Vigil for DV Victims.

  • Mercer Island Women’s Club Meeting.

  • Plymouth Congregational Church Forum

  • Kennedy Catholic High School

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