ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Washington State Penitentiary

Green River Killer admits 49th murder

SEATTLE (AP) — One of the nation's most prolific killers pleaded guilty Friday to killing a 49th person.

Gary Ridgway already is serving 48 life terms at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. He entered his plea on a murder charge at the King County Regional Justice Center in Kent, a Seattle suburb.

Ridgway, who has been dubbed the Green River Killer, confessed to killing Rebecca “Becky” Marrero in 1982 as part of a 2003 plea deal that spared him the death penalty.

 Ridgway, who was a commercial truck painter, has been convicted of 48 murders and confessed to or been suspected of dozens more. Several victims were dumped in or posed along the Green River.

He preyed upon women and girls at the margins of society — runaways, prostitutes and drug addicts strangled in a spree that terrorized Seattle and its south suburbs in the 1980s.

Marrero, a 20-year-old mother, (right) was last seen when she left a motel in 1982.

Prosecutors originally declined to charge Ridgway in Marrero's death in 2003 because he was not able to provide conclusive evidence that he killed her. The plea deal required him to plead guilty to future King County charges based on new evidence.

Marrero's remains were discovered Dec. 21 when teenagers found a skull in a ravine at Auburn, south of Seattle. They were found 100 feet from where investigators found another of Ridgway's victims, Marie Malvar, in 2003.

 Ridgway, who turned 62 on Friday, was charged with murder on Feb. 7. He was brought from the state prison for the arraignment, where he sat handcuffed and shackled around his legs.

After Ridgway entered the plea, Marrero's sister, Mary Marrero, told county Superior Court Judge Mary E. Roberts that the family had agonized for 29 years, wondering what happened to her.

“I don't agree with this plea deal to spare his pathetic life,” she said in a halting voice, as Ridgway turned in his chair to face her and two other family members at a lectern. “It makes me sick to my stomach that he beat the system.”

Ridgway, she said, knows where all his victims are and what he did to them. She called them “his trophies.”

She told the judge, “If I had one thing to ask today, it would be to kill him.” (Marrero's mother, who stood by as her daughter spoke, is pictured at left.)

Ridgway rose and began to apologize to the family, but was cut off by a man in the audience who shouted, “Shut your mouth.”

“I'm sorry you had to wait this long for some truth and some justice,” Roberts said to the family.

The judge told Ridgway that in his case, “I can find no compassion,” then sentenced him to a 49th consecutive life term.

Ridgway was arrested in 2001 after advances in DNA technology enabled authorities to link a saliva sample he gave authorities in 1987 to some of the bodies. He pleaded guilty two years later, agreeing to help authorities locate as many remains as possible.

He is serving life without release in solitary confinement at the state prison, where he's allowed out of his cell one hour a day four times a week.

Court OK’s solitary for death row inmate

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Supreme Court ruled today that it was OK for corrections officials to move a death row inmate to solitary confinement after a special housing unit 

that allowed him more privileges was closed due to budget cuts.

In a 7-2 ruling, the high court dismissed a petition by Jonathan Gentry (pictured), who argued that the move unlawfully changed the terms of his sentence. Gentry was sentenced to death in 1991 for killing a 12-year-old girl in Kitsap County.

Under Department of Corrections regulations, after a year in solitary confinement, qualified inmates can be transferred to another unit where they are allowed daily contact with other inmates and family contact visits.

However, that special housing unit was closed in 2009 due to budget cuts, and Gentry argued that his return to solitary confinement was a constitutionally impermissible increase in the severity of his punishment.

The majority, lead by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, said neither the state nor U.S. constitutions create a “liberty interest in a particular form of prison housing, absent allegations of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, which Gentry does not assert.”

The majority wrote that that housing in the special unit is a privilege that can end through no fault of the prisoner, including budget cuts. And because all death row inmates start out in solitary confinement, being returned there does not create a harsher sentence than they first faced.

Also signing on to the majority opinion were Justices Susan Owens, Charles Johnson, Mary Fairhurst, Gerry Alexander, Jim Johnson, and Tom Chambers.

The dissent, written by Justice Debra Stephens, argued the petition should be heard in superior court to address some unanswered questions.

The state's claim that the closure of the unit was prompted by budget cuts “is arguably a valid administrative reason,” Stephens wrote. “However, budget cuts do not necessarily explain why the graduated system of prisoner benefits, most notably contact visits with family, had to be cut as well.”

Stephens also wrote that the question of whether moving prisoners back to solitary confinement is a violation of their sentencing terms is a question that affects all death row inmates. Gentry is among eight prisoners on death row at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. He has been on death row longer than any other current death row inmate. Since 1904, 78 men have been put to death in Washington.

“It is necessary to have a more complete factual record as to DOC's policies regarding conditions of confinement as they presently exist and as they existed at the time of Gentry's crime and sentence,” she wrote. Justice Richard Sanders signed on to the dissent.

2 men charged in meth prison conspiracy

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Two Bellingham men have been charged with conspiracy to mail papers soaked in methamphetamine to inmates in state prisons.

A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges that 31-year-old Joseph L. Garcia supplied ounces of meth to 47-year-old Kirk L. Rishor, who soaked the drugs into high-quality, cotton-fiber paper.

The complaint says Rishor put the paper into manila envelopes flled with legal paperwork and mailed the package to the prison.

Rishor and Garcia were arrested in Bellingham on Nov. 12. When investigators searched Garcia’s home with a warrant, they found $28,000 in cash and almost 40 ounces of meth.

An inmate in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Victor Martinez, also has been charged.

Inmate fighting locks down state prison

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — Two more units at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla have been locked down because of a fight.

The disturbance escalated to include more than 20 inmates Monday. The prison said in a statement that three officers reported injuries and are being evaluated. No inmates suffered serious injuries.

The cause of the fight is being investigated.

Two other units remain under lockdown following a fight last week that involved nearly 50 inmates. One of those units is expected to return to normal operations on Tuesday.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here