Victims of the State

22 Cases

Map of Counties

U.S. Cases


County:   Chelan   Clallam   Clark   Franklin   Grant   King

Kitsap   Pierce   Snohomish   Walla Walla   Yakima   Unknown




Date of Alleged Crime


Chelan County, WA Wenatchee 43 Convicted 1994-95
Between 1992 and 1995, 43 adults, mostly women, were arrested on 29,726 charges of child abuse.  The alleged abuse involved 60 children and resulted in 22 convictions.  All of the alleged abuse occurred in the city of Wenatchee (in Chelan County) and East Wenatchee (in Douglas County).  The allegations started when two children under the foster care of detective Robert Perez began accusing their parents.  (One soon ran away from Perez and recanted.)  Many defendants were coerced into confessing by the same detective.  The last imprisoned defendant was released in Dec. 2000.  To date, more than $7 million in civil settlements have been awarded to the defendants.  (RT) (Wash Times)  [7/05]


Clallam County, WA

John Carothers

Sept 3, 1971

John V. Carothers was convicted of murdering Ronald and Wanda Buck.  The victims were killed during a robbery in their home west of Sequim.  Joseph Lalak, a friend of Carothers, was caught with a pistol stolen from the victims and with the murder weapon.  Lalak implicated Carothers as the shooter and made a deal to testify against him.  Following Carothers' arrest, police retrieved a sawed off shotgun and a rifle from his barn, weapons that Lalak admitted owning.  The prosecution claimed these weapons were stolen from a gun shop by Carothers and Lalak.  The prosecution never attempted to prove this claim. The weapons sat before Carothers' trial jury with no objections from defense attorneys.

Carothers had nearly a dozen alibi witnesses testify that he was 125 miles away when the Bucks were murdered.  The judge informed the jury that the burden of proof of the alibi was with Carothers even though that instruction had been ruled unconstitutional in 1955.  The judge also instructed the jury that they could find him guilty of aiding and abetting and of being an accomplice.  However, Carothers was the only person indicted for the murders, so it is not clear who Carothers could be aiding and abetting or what he could be an accomplice to.  The jury was even informed that Carothers did not need to be at the scene of the murders to be found guilty.  Carothers has affidavits from several jurors indicating that the trial judge's illegal instructions are what cinched their agreement to find Carothers guilty.  (Justice: Denied)  [5/08]


Clark County, WA David Kunze Dec 16, 1994
David Wayne Kunze was convicted of murdering his ex-wife's fiancé, James W. McCann.  Kunze was convicted solely on the basis of an alleged ear print left on a door in the victim's house.  In 1999 an appeals court reversed his conviction because of the unreliability of ear print evidence.  After Kunze was released on $500,000 bail in Aug 2000, Kunze's second trial ended in a mistrial, and prosecutors declined to retry him a third time because of a lack of evidence.  (State v. Kunze)  [10/05]


Clark County, WA Ross Sorrels Convicted 1995
Ross Sorrels was convicted of raping a five-year-old girl.  His 1995 trial attracted wide publicity because he was the former director of a group for troubled teenagers, America For Youth Foundation.  The actual rapist was convicted in 2002 of raping both the five-year old and her two sisters while living with the girl's mother.  (Seattle Times)  [10/05]


Clark County, WA Daniel L. Sanders June 1997

Daniel L. Sanders was convicted of child molestation. In late May and early June of 1997, Sanders stayed with his former girlfriend, Patti Kelley, to spend time with his 14-year-old son, Gabe. Kelley also lived with her three-year-old son, Tyler, who was not Sanders' child. After Kelley accused Sanders of molesting Tyler, Sanders said she was retaliating against him for threatening to call Child Protective Services after Tyler had gotten got into Kelley's stash of methamphetamine. Kelley had told police that Sanders had masturbated and ejaculated in Tyler's face. During a preliminary hearing, Tyler stated, “My mom told me to say these things about [Sanders],” and he would not, or could not, identify Sanders in the courtroom. The judge found Tyler incompetent to testify.

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Clark County, WA Reshenda Strickland Mar 21, 2003
Reshenda Strickland was convicted of shoplifting based on the erroneous eyewitness ID of store manager Kathy Hanna and loss prevention officer Dawn Porter.  After the conviction, a review of the store's video surveillance tapes showed that Strickland's sister, Starlisha, who had claimed to be in Atlanta at the time of the crime, was the actual thief.  Strickland spent three months in jail.  (Seattle PI) (Columbian)  [10/05]


Franklin County, WA Geither Horn 1935
Geither Horn confessed to fatally beating an unidentified transient because the police took him to an open grave and told him they were going to bury him alive if he did not sign a confession.  He was awarded $6,000 for 24 years of false imprisonment.  (News Article) (Jet)  [7/05]


Grant County, WA Patrick Hurley Convicted 1993
Patrick Hurley was convicted of sexual assault.  His conviction was reversed after three years of imprisonment when the alleged victim admitted she made-up the accusation.  Hurley's lawyer, public defender Tom Earl, was disbarred for life in May 2004 for a multitude of actions, including charging people assigned to be represented by him at public expense.  (Seattle PI) (FJDB) (JD26 p15)  [7/05]


King County, WA Arthur Emery Dec 1952 (Seattle)
Arthur F. Emery was convicted of robbing bus driver Charles D. Taulbee of $105.  The conviction was based on eyewitness identification of the victim who happened to see Emery on a downtown Seattle street.  After Emery served 9 months of imprisonment, another man, Eugene Albert Gough, confessed to Denver authorities that he had robbed the bus driver and even revealed where he hid the bus driver's money changer.  Gov. Arthur Langlie pardoned Emery in Jan. 1954.  Emery was later awarded $13,000 by the state legislature for his wrongful imprisonment.  (News Article) (The Innocents)  [7/09]


King County, WA Steve Titus Oct 12, 1980
Steve Gary Titus was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl on a secluded road south of Sea-Tac Airport.  He was convicted in March 1981, but in June 1981 the conviction was overturned and charges were dropped, after a serial rapist was identified as the perpetrator.  Titus was profiled in the book Predator by Jack Olson, a book about the serial rapist and the unfortunate Titus who was blamed for one of the rapes.  Titus died of a heart attack shortly after his release.  Titus's son was awarded $2.6 million to be paid over 20 years for Titus's false imprisonment.  (Seattle Times)


King County, WA Rafay & Burns July 12, 1994 (Bellevue)

Atif Rafay and Glen Sebastian Burns were convicted of the murders of Rafay's father, Dr. Tariq Rafay, his mother, Sultana, and his sister, Basma.  The victims were bludgeoned in their home in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, WA.  The walls, floor, and ceiling of Dr. Tariq's bedroom were covered in blood, bone, teeth, and tissue.  In addition, tremendous amounts of blood were tracked throughout the property.  Rafray and Burns, then both 18, reported the murders when they returned to Rafray's home at 2 a.m. following an evening out.

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King County, WA Clark & Schmieder May 17, 1998 (Auburn)

Mark Clark and Jeff Schmieder were convicted of raping Regina Birindelli.  Birindelli originally claimed that three men had raped her, but prosecutors had to drop charges against the third man after he produced evidence that he was in jail at the time of the alleged rape.  At trial, Birindelli claimed the two handcuffed her and videotaped themselves raping her orally and anally at Clark's mobile home in Auburn.  Birindelli changed parts of her story three times while testifying.  The jurors were also told about the third man that Birindelli originally claimed had also assaulted her.  No handcuffs, videotape, or other physical evidence was ever found supporting her story.  Clark and Schmieder had alibis for their whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime. Clark even had proof that he was in traffic court in Auburn.

The two were convicted anyway, though they managed to raise enough doubt among four jurors that they prolonged jury deliberations to five days.  One of these doubting jurors who ultimately voted guilty said, "The one thing was that we couldn't for the life of us figure out [was] why she would get on the stand and crucify those two guys if it wasn't true."  That question is still a mystery although Birindelli's work as a police informant may have something to do with the answer.

Prior to sentencing, Clark's wife, Jill, investigated the case and found out from Birindelli's ex-boyfriend that Birindelli had been in the Auburn, WA jail at the time of the alleged rape.  Even though Clark and Schmeider were exonerated, King County deputy prosecutor Dave Ryan refused to acknowledge their innocence.  He said that perjury charges will not be filed against Birindelli because she might be telling the truth about being assaulted, and just confused about the date it occurred.  However events Birindelli recounted on the days before and after her "assault" were verified by other people, and both Clark and Schmieder have alibis for those days.  Both men spent all their money fighting the false charges and had their mobile homes repossessed.  (Justice: Denied)  [9/08]


King County, WA Michael Lee Sipin Mar 6, 2000
Michael Lee Sipin was an occupant of a BMW Z3 sports car that crashed into a tree and threw both occupants from the car.  Sipin suffered brain damage while the other occupant, David Taylor, was killed.  Sipin, who had a blood alcohol level of .11, maintained that he was the passenger, not the driver.  The prosecution used a computer program named PC-Crash to simulate the crash and it convinced jurors to convict Sipin of vehicular homicide.  Sipin's conviction was overturned on appeal in 2005.  The appeals judge faulted the state's PC-Crash expert witness for not accounting for multiple impacts in the crash and the changing dimensions and angles inside the vehicle.  (State v. Sipin)  [7/05]


Kitsap County, WA Terrence Gardner Mar 5, 1992 (Bremerton)
Terrence Gardner was convicted of felony murder for the stabbing death of Michael Osborne that occurred during a robbery at his apartment in Bremerton.  Gov. Locke granted Gardner executive clemency in 2003 after he had been imprisoned for over 10 years.  Gardner exhibited exemplary conduct while imprisoned, is a Navy veteran with no prior convictions, and always maintained his innocence.  (Seattle PI)  [10/05]


Pierce County, WA Timothy Thompson Aug 6, 1974
Timothy Thompson was convicted of the murder of Jan Cygan.  The prosecution theory lacked coherence.  Prosecution witnesses disagreed amongst themselves and the prosecution relied on impossible timeline.  The prosecution maintained victim was beaten before death, but the victim's body showed no bruises.  (Justice: Denied)  [9/05]


Pierce County, WA Benjamin Harris June 14, 1984 (Tacoma)
Benjamin Harris was sentenced to death for the murder of auto mechanic Jimmie Lee Turner.  The prosecution alleged that Harris paid another man, Gregory Lee Bonds, to help kill Turner, and that each of them shot him.  Bonds, however, was acquitted.  Harris's defense attorney acted as a second prosecutor in that he (1) elicited an uncorroborated confession when Harris was delusional, (2) failed to interview exculpatory witnesses, and (3) referred to his client in court as a womanizer, alcoholic, thief, and “liar 85% of the time.”  There was no physical evidence linking either Harris or Bonds to the crime.  An appeals court ruled Harris had been denied effective assistance of counsel.  The prosecution decided not to retry Harris but tried to have him confined as insane, even though they had previously argued that he was competent to stand trial.  A jury decided that Harris should not be detained at a state hospital.  Harris was released in 1997.  (CWC)  [9/05]


Pierce County, WA Gary Benn Feb 10, 1988 (Puyallup)

Gary Michael Benn was sentenced to death for the shooting murders of his half-brother, Jack Dethlefsen, and his half-brother's friend, Michael Nelson.  The shootings occurred in Dethlefsen's house.  At trial Benn did not testify directly, but he made statements to a third party who testified to his version of events.  According to this version, the killings were in self-defense.  Benn's version was reasonably corroborated by the position of the bodies relative to the guns in the house.  The killings were presumably not premeditated as Benn did not use his own gun, but had left it in his car.  Dethlefsen had a reputation for violence.

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Snohomish County, WA Jerry Jones, Jr. Dec 3, 1988 (Bothell)
Jerry Jones Jr. was convicted of murdering his wife, Lee.  An intruder had entered his home and stabbed his wife at least 36 times.  Jones intercepted the intruder before he ran off, and in trying to take away the intruder's knife, Jones cut tendons in his hand.  Following the attack Jones behaved strangely, having gone into shock.  He gave 911 dispatchers his old address where he lived for 5 years.  The prosecution portrayed such behavior as suspicious.  A neighborhood boy is an alternate suspect, who lied about his alibi and whose statements and later criminal record fully justify his being regarded as a suspect.  Jones's daughters fully support their father's innocence in the murder of their mother.  Jones's conviction was overturned twice, but he acted as his own attorney at his third trial and was reconvicted.  (Justice: Denied) (48 Hours)  [11/05]


Snohomish County, WA Indle King Sept 22, 2000 (Mountlake Terrace)

Indle Gifford King, Jr. was convicted of murdering his 20-year-old mail order bride, Anastasia Solovieva, who was from Krygyzstan in the former Soviet Union.  King had met Anastasia through a magazine that advertised foreign women to prospective American men.  A boarder, Daniel Larson, who rented a room in King's house, led police to her shallow grave.  At the time Larson had been arrested for sexually assaulting a Ukrainian immigrant teenager.  Larson said King had told him he murdered Anastasia and showed him where he buried her body.  Larson later claimed he murdered King's wife under orders from King.  King had no criminal record while Larson had a history of violence, sexual assault, and mental illness.  In addition, Larson wrote a letter to a cult leader, Christopher Turgeon, in which he stated that he killed Anastasia alone.

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Walla Walla County, WA Susan Cummings June 24, 1983 (Walla Walla)
Susan Cummings was convicted of the murder of her friend and neighbor, 88-year-old Christine Zacharias.  Zacharias, a Russian immigrant, lived in Walla Walla and had befriended 16-year-old Cummings.  After her conviction, two prosecution informants, Joe Aguilar and Lillie Rowland, retracted their identification of her.  Witnesses said Rowland had not been in Walla Walla on the the night of the killing and could not know anything about it.  Gov. Gary Locke pardoned Cummings in 2004.  (Seattle PI)  [10/05]


Yakima County, WA Patrick Bradford Fall 1995
Patrick Bradford was convicted of rape after police contended he confessed following an 8-hour interrogation.  The perpetrator had worn a nylon stocking over his head and had covered his victim's face with a mask.  The victim had described the perpetrator as 6' tall while Bradford is 5'7".  In the confession, Bradford said no children were present in the victim's home, when in fact the victim's infant child wailed throughout the attack.  Bradford served a 9-year prison sentence, but did not stop professing his innocence.  In 2007, the DNA profile of another unknown man was found from skin cells left on the mask.  A court overturned Bradford's conviction, making Bradford the first person in Washington State whose conviction was overturned because of DNA evidence.  The state plans to retry him.  According to a prosecutor, even though Bradford faces no additional prison time, it is important to make him register as a sex offender.  Bradford also faces a $600,000 judgment owed to the victim and her husband, who sued him in 1996.  (Seattle Times)  [10/07]


Unknown County, WA Chief Leschi Oct 31, 1855
Leschi, chief of the Nisqually Indian tribe, was convicted of murdering U.S. Army Colonel Abraham Benton Moses during an 1855-56 Indian war in a skirmish that occurred east of present day Tacoma.  His first trial ended in a hung jury because of the judge's instruction that killing of combatants during wartime did not constitute murder.  His second trial contained no such instruction and he was convicted and sentenced to death.  The territorial Supreme Court refused to consider new evidence by the U.S. Army that Leschi was miles away at the time of the skirmish.  The Army refused to carry out the sentence of death, maintaining that he was a prisoner of war.  The territorial legislature therefore passed a law authorizing Leschi's execution at the hands of civilian authorities and Leschi was hanged on Feb 19, 1858.  A Historical Court of Inquiry appointed by the Washington legislature exonerated Leschi in 2004.  (JD33 p31)  [9/05]