The fatal shootings of three women in the King County Courthouse were “a full-out attack on the justice system” and call for nothing less than the death penalty, Prosecutor Norm Maleng said Monday.
Maleng announced he will seek execution as the punishment against Timothy Blackwell, the man accused of fatally shooting his wife and two of her friends in the courthouse March 2.
Blackwell, 47, a computer laboratory technician, is charged with three counts of aggravated firstdegree murder in the deaths of his wife, Susana Remerata Blackwell, 25, and two friends, Phoebe Dizon, 46, and Veronica Laureta Johnson, 42. He is charged with one count of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Susana Blackwell’s 7-month-old fetus.
The shootings happened in a courthouse hallway shortly before a hearing in a case to end the Blackwells’ marriage. Timothy Blackwell was seeking an annulment, claiming his mail-order bride had deceived him into marriage simply as a way to come to the United States from the Philippines.
Susana Blackwell had filed a counterclaim for divorce.
Aggravated murder is the only crime in Washington punishable by execution. The only alternative punishment upon conviction is life in prison with no chance of parole.
“This was a horrific crime,” Maleng said. “It ended four lives, endangered many others and was a full-out attack on the justice system, the very institution designed to preserve the peace.”
Aggravating circumstances in the case are that it involved multiple victims, and that the victims were witnesses in a court proceeding - the divorce-annulment case.
Blackwell’s defense attorney, Terry Mulligan, disagreed with the decision to seek execution, saying it is inconsistent with other deathpenalty cases since Blackwell had no history of criminal or violent conduct.
Blackwell is being held in the King County Jail without bail. Trial is scheduled for Aug. 21.
Senior deputy prosecutors Kerry Keefe and Lisa Marchese will prosecute the case.
If Blackwell is convicted of aggravated murder, a separate hearing will be held to consider whether enough mitigating circumstances exist to warrant a sentence of life in prison rather than execution.
Corrections officers subdued Blackwell after the shootings.
Authorities recovered a briefcase in which they found a last will and testament from Blackwell, in which he wrote that he took “full responsibility for my actions.”
Since the shootings, metal detectors and X-ray machines have been placed at courthouse entrances.