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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: aggravated murder

Doctor accused of killing partner, son

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A doctor who failed to show up for his new job at a Seattle hospital was charged Tuesday with killing his partner and their young son, days after a hospital manager who went to his apartment to check on him discovered the grisly scene.

Louis C. Chen, 39, faces two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Eric A. Cooper, 29, and Cooper Chen, 2, last Thursday. He remains hospitalized with undisclosed injuries, and it was unclear if he had an attorney.

The endocrinologist recently moved to Seattle from Durham, N.C., where he had completed a fellowship at Duke University. On Thursday, he was to begin work at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center by meeting with a manager there for orientation, a detective wrote in a probable cause statement.

Chen didn't show up for his 7:50 a.m. Thursday meeting, and when the manager, Madonna Carlson, received a worried call from Chen's sister an hour later, she went to Chen's high-rise apartment to check on him. The building's property manager accompanied her.

Carlson heard some rustling noises and knocked several times, and finally Chen opened the door — nude, covered in dried blood, with his right eye swollen shut. He held a box in front of himself, and inside Carlson could see a man's body on the floor in boxer shorts.

Cooper, Chen's longtime partner, had been stabbed well more than 100 times, including wounds to his face, back, neck chest and hands, authorities said.

Police arrived to find Chen slumped down by the front door. In the bathroom tub off the master bedroom, they saw the couple's son, Cooper Chen, obviously dead.

The officers were about to leave the apartment when they noticed Dr. Chen moving his head and eyes. One nudged him and asked Chen for his name, according to the charging papers, and the following conversation ensued:

“Who did this?” the officer asked.

“What?” Chen answered.

“Stabbed you and him.”

Chen looked at the officer. “I did,” he said.

Friends told police they had not heard from Chen since Aug. 8, and a review of the electronic keys assigned to the apartment revealed that they had not been used since that afternoon.

Five large kitchen knives that might have been used in the attack were found in the apartment — including three on the bed in the master bedroom that were stained with blood, the charging papers said.

Aggravated murder is punishable only by life in prison without release or execution. Chen's arraignment is set for Aug. 29. The prosecutor will then decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Survivor of brutal Seattle attack testifies

Woman who survived brutal Seattle attack testifies
By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Awakening in the middle of the night to find a half-naked man looming over her bed with a knife, the woman had one goal: to keep completely still, to do nothing that would risk angering him or causing him to use the knife on her or her partner.

It didn't work, she testified. During a horrific two-hour attack, the man repeatedly raped and cut them, killing her partner, Teresa Butz, who collapsed and died in the street in front of their South Seattle home, naked and covered in blood, as stunned neighbors tried to help.

The 38-year-old woman who survived the attack two years ago took the witness stand in King County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon and described her ordeal publicly for the first time in the trial of the man charged in the attack, Isaiah Kalebu, 25.

Kalebu, who has been barred from the trial because of prior outbursts, was not in the courtroom during her testimony. Defense attorneys have said they plan to argue he did not commit the crimes.

“It was like, you want to be so still,” she said. “I just didn't want to aggravate him, or do something that would make things worse for Teresa.”

She said she believed her attacker was “a rapist who would leave.” When senior deputy prosecutor James Konat asked her why, she answered that it was because he kept saying he would.

Kalebu, who has a history of mental illness but is not presenting a mental-health defense, is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in what's been described as a random attack on Butz and her partner at their home the night of July 18, 2009. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty; he would face life in prison without release if convicted.

Kalebu is accused of entering the home through an open window — it was a hot night, and Butz, a native of St. Louis, was philosophically opposed to using air conditioning in Seattle. The city doesn't get hot enough, her partner testified.

The Associated Press is not identifying her because she is a victim of sexual assault.

Her testimony ranged from terrifying details of the attack — how the man, pacing slowly through the bedroom, knife in hand, closed the three windows one-by-one — and cheerful, sometimes emotional recollections of the time she shared with Butz, their first kiss and the way Butz fit perfectly into a $70 wedding dress she was going to wear at their upcoming commitment ceremony.

“She kind of had a fire and a spunk to her that I was really drawn to,” she said.

The woman flashed broad smiles and laughed often as she described their lives together. They met because Butz was a commercial real-estate manager who oversaw the floor on which the woman worked, but Butz initially wouldn't return her calls. She talked of their last day together, which they spent going to a weight-loss class, drinking beer on a tour of South Seattle microbreweries, going to her wedding dress fitting, and grilling steaks at home.

They had been planning to spend the night in the suburb of Marysville that night for a friend's birthday party, but were exhausted from their busy day and stayed home instead.

Butz's family didn't approve of their wedding plans, but the woman said Butz was excited that evening because she had just spoken on the phone with her mother, who had indicated she might attend the ceremony. Several of Butz's relatives were in the courtroom.

“They may not have agreed with our choice, but I knew there was no question they loved Teresa, and I knew there was no question they loved me,” she said.

She choked up as she spoke of their plans to have children together.

Though she had described the rapes by the end of court Friday, she had not yet testified about the stabbings. She was to resume testifying Thursday morning.

Prosecutors say the attack finally ended when Butz — just 5-foot-2 — kicked Kalebu off a bed and used a small table to break a window, through which she left. Kalebu ran out of the house, and Butz's partner left too, naked and covered in so much blood that she had trouble opening the front door of the home, authorities said.

Before Butz died from a stab wound to her heart, she reportedly told a neighbor: “He told us if we did what he asked us to do, he wouldn't hurt us. He lied, he lied.”

Kalebu was arrested after he was identified using DNA evidence and surveillance video from an earlier unsolved burglary at the city hall in the suburb of Auburn. The attack kept the neighborhood on edge until Kalebu's arrest six days later.

3 suspects charged w/ aggravated murder

Three suspects in the homicide of Nicholas J. Thoreson, whose body was found in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird last month, face life in prison without the possibility of parole under charges filed this week.

Taylor James Wolf, 20; Justice Edward Dean Sims, 18; and Breeanna Catherine Sims, 19; have been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which is punishable only by the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said Thursday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Thoreson is pictured.

Past coverage:

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: New details released on Forker Road homicide

April 14: Homicide victim was shot in the head; suspect jailed

Murder victim remembered in obituary

A 22-year-old man found shot in the head in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird was remembered in an obituary Sunday as a caring, fun-loving man who loved country western music, movies and “wearing his trademark bling.”

Nicholas J. “Nick” Thoreson enjoyed spending time with his girlfriend, Ivory Hendry , and their 1-year-old son, Thomas.

His greatest joy was caring for the boy, the obituary said. Thoreson “lived life to the fullest,” and enjoyed, “above all else, spending time with his family.”

“Nick left this earth too early for us to understand, but God always has a purpose and therefore we all must believe that Nick is still among us fulfilling his,” the obituary reads.
 
Thoreson attended Greenacres elementary and junior high as well as Central Valley High School. He spent two years in  job corps, where he met Hendry. Friends say Thoreson also met one of his accused killers, Taylor J. Wolf, in job corps.
 
Thoreson's memorial is next Saturday. 
 
“Thank you for being part of our lives Nick - you will continue to live in our hearts and never be forgotten,” his family wrote.
 
Wolf, 20, who has ties to the Hells Angels, and sibling murder suspects Breeanna Sims, 19, and Justice Sims, 18, are charged in Spokane County District Court. 
 
Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said today that he expects to file charges in Superior Court this week.
 
Asked if the suspects could be charged with aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty or life in prison with no parole, Driscoll said “perhaps.”
 
“We'll formally file charges in the next day or so, and you'll know then,” he said.
 
Court documents say Thoreson was assaulted for hours and stabbed several times before he was fatally shot in the head. His body was found in the Thunderbird near Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads April 13.
 
A motive is unclear. Breeanna Sims told a friend that her brother believed Thoreson had held her against her will, but Justice Sims told another person that Thoreson had told on his sister, which led to the murder.
 
Past coverage:
 
April 21: New details released on Forker Road homicide
 

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