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Town Turns Out To Honor Slain Family Couple’s Son, Charged With Murders, Only Mentioned In List Of Survivors

Thu., Aug. 17, 1995

After 20 years of marriage, Wendy and Mike Bassett still wrote love notes to each other, the Rev. William Self recalled as the slain couple and their 5-year-old son were laid to rest Wednesday.

And young Austin was remembered as a bright and charming boy who helped his grandmother plant zucchini seeds last summer and would jump from lap to lap at ball games.

“You know why I believe he was so special? Because God knew he wasn’t going to be around very long,” said Self, a longtime family friend.

Self said he hoped the violence that claimed the Bassetts wouldn’t overshadow the joy and laughter in their lives and said perhaps it would draw other families closer.

The only direct mention of the couple’s 16-year-old son Brian came when Self read a list of survivors.

Brian Bassett and his 17-year-old friend Nicholaus McDonald have been charged with three counts each of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths. Late on Aug. 10, Wendy Bassett, 40, and Michael Bassett, 44, were shot to death and Austin was drowned in a bathtub.

Grays Harbor County Sheriff Dennis Morrisette said a case this heinous should prompt state lawmakers to consider allowing the death penalty for teens as young as 16.

Aggravated murder is the only crime in Washington punishable by death, but a state Supreme Court ruling held that youths who committed such a crime before the age of 18 could not be killed.

The other possible penalty for an aggravated murder conviction is life in prison without parole.

In the small Western Washington town of McCleary - population 1,200 - most people knew the Bassetts, and about half of them turned out for the funeral.

Passing logging trucks drowned out parts of Self’s eulogy, but many mourners were in tears by the time “Taps” was played at the end of the service.

After the service, 18-year-old Stephanie Bassett held a rose and a flag as she cried and smiled, graciously accepting condolences and hugs from dozens of friends.

She was out of town at a softball tournament when the slayings occurred.

Wendy Bassett’s two older daughters, Rachel Leigh Hook of Montesano and Heather Lynn Crossan of Elma, also attended.

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