Soon, he may face a hangman’s noose. For now, Jason Wickenhagen knows he’s going to prison for at least five years.
The Spokane man accused of killing his 9-year-old niece, Rachel Carver, was sentenced Wednesday for an unrelated gunpoint rape attempt.
Three sheriff’s deputies stood guard in the courtroom as Wickenhagen protested his innocence and glared at his attorney, Terence Ryan.
Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen refused to let Wickenhagen withdraw his guilty plea, then imposed a five-year, eight-month prison term - the high end of the standard sentencing range.
In doing so, Eitzen, who has questioned the effectiveness of sex-offender treatment, declared Wickenhagen, 23, to be a bad risk for such a program.
She went further, shackling the defendant with a laundry list of prison-release conditions.
Some are unusual: Prohibitions against possessing pornography; patronizing prostitutes, adult bookstores, topless bars and massage parlors; picking up hitchhikers; and driving a car between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. without the approval of his probation officer.
Other restrictions include bans on possession and use of firearms, drugs and alcohol, and unsupervised contact with minors or visits to playgrounds, schools and parks.
Wickenhagen was initially charged last summer with attempted firstdegree rape.
The 16-year-old victim, picked up hitch-hiking, said he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her.
He let her go after she told him she was pregnant, police said.
Wickenhagen pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to a reduced charge of indecent liberties. Sentencing was delayed several months - including a final continuance granted by Eitzen - while Wickenhagen was evaluated for possible sex-offender treatment.
Wickenhagen recently filed court documents seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in the sex case and fire his lawyer.
In a three-page statement, the car wash attendant asserted his innocence, claimed to have witnesses who can prove it, and accused Ryan of pressuring him into accepting a plea bargain.
“He’s a confused guy,” Ryan said Wednesday. “He feels he was railroaded.”
The victim did not attend the sentencing hearing and provided no written statement.
Wickenhagen was out of jail on June 15, when he was arrested on suspicion of murder, accused of beating Rachel to death.
Spokane County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser said his office has not decided whether to file aggravating circumstances in the first-degree murder case - a move that would expose the defendant to a possible death sentence.
“There’s no need to hurry it right now, because he’s in custody and he’s going to stay in custody,” Sweetser said.
Police believe Wickenhagen beat Rachel to death on June 14 and dumped her body along a North Side road.
Hundreds of residents searched for the third-grader when she failed to show up for her last day of school.
Wickenhagen is being held in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
He has prior adult convictions for two burglaries and a theft, records show.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo