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‘What Would You Do?’ Defense Portrays Arrasmith As A Father Blinded By Rage

Fri., Nov. 17, 1995

Jurors in the Ken Arrasmith murder trial were asked Thursday to put themselves in the defendant’s shoes and imagine the emotional turmoil he felt over his teenage daughter’s rape and her attackers’ apparent impunity.

In the defense’s most complete accounting to date of Arrasmith’s actions, attorney Roy Mosman said Arrasmith repeatedly was tormented by the “evil” of Ron and Luella Bingham, threats they made against him and his family and the slowness of a police investigation into his daughter’s abuse.

“You can just imagine the frustration, the anger, the helpless feeling that he had,” said Mosman. “We’re going to be asking you: What would you do? What would you do?”

The question cuts to the emotional heart of the case, which has turned Arrasmith into a television tabloid folk hero. He is expected to testify today.

The 44-year-old trucker is accused of killing the Binghams on May 17 in a torrent of semiautomatic gunfire at an east Lewiston garage.

In an opening statement made after the prosecution rested its case Thursday, Mosman fell short of saying outright that his client had shot the couple. He said an admittedly well-armed Arrasmith had visited the Binghams aiming only to intimidate them into a confession when Ron Bingham “made a quick motion, as if to grab for something, and Ken thought it was a weapon.” Afterwards, Mosman pointed out to a stone-silent courtroom, Arrasmith turned himself in to Clarkston, Wash., police.

Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for two counts of first-degree murder, contend Arrasmith deliberately planned the attack. But Mosman, laying the groundwork for a defense based on Arrasmith’s state of mind, said the events leading up to the murders were a study in personal torment.

The Binghams, said Mosman, were “two evil people … who conspired together and schemed to take advantage of a 15-year-old girl.

“The words ‘sexually molested’ are too weak,” he added, listing the sodomy, rape, oral sex and drugging that witnesses said the two inflicted on Arrasmith’s daughter, Cynthia.

When Ken Arrasmith confronted Ron Bingham about the attacks, he scoffed, Mosman said.

Bingham then pointed to a gun and said, “‘You come around here again, I’m going to kill you,”’ Mosman said.

Hearing that Bingham had a contract out to kill him in exchange for $16,000 of methamphetamine, Arrasmith barricaded himself at night in a trailer at his parents’ Clarkston home two blocks from the Binghams’ residence.

He was frustrated that his daughter, also fearing for her life, was in protective custody while the Binghams were free.

“If the police had done what they should have done, we wouldn’t be here today,” Mosman said.

Arrasmith’s own testimony of his thoughts on the day of the murder will be particularly important after Judge Ida Leggett barred an appearance by Lenore Walker, a nationally known expert on abuse who interviewed Arrasmith in August.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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