September 6, 1995 in City

Defiant Youth Sentenced Judge Orders Maximum 29-Year Term For Spree That Included Rape, Robbery

William Miller Staff writer
 

His future hanging in the balance, 18-year-old William Caietti III stood before the judge.

Most people in his place would have apologized for their crimes.

He let loose Tuesday with a string of obscenities.

The result: A maximum 29-1/2-year prison term.

“So what, man,” Caietti snarled.

During an eight-hour Jan. 23 rampage, the Spokane teenager raped, robbed and kidnapped one woman, then came within millimeters of killing another while shooting up a Spokane Valley convenience store.

“In 12 years of practicing law, I have not seen such a spree of violent, brutal crimes,” said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Steve Kinn.

Caietti and Johnas Bower, 18, were high on beer and drugs when they terrorized a woman in her South Hill home before dawn that day.

Caietti knew the woman’s son and was allowed to spend the night, along with Bower.

The teenagers paid her back by tying her up with a telephone cord and taking turns raping her at gunpoint.

They then trashed the house and loaded her Oldsmobile Cutlass with a color TV set, a carton of cigarettes, a pair of hiking boots and food stamps.

Before stealing the car, they forced her into the back seat. Police are convinced they intended to kill her.

Bower and Caietti made a couple of stops - getting ammunition and attempting to pawn the stolen goods. The woman escaped after being briefly left alone outside a house at Sixth and Crestline.

Shortly after 5 a.m., the pair drove to the Qwik-Stop at 8119 E. Sprague, where they stole $17 worth of gasoline and $40 in cash.

They tried to take clerk Paula Thomas hostage, but she resisted. She ran into the bathroom, chased by a hail of bullets. One came so close to her face, it burned her cheek.

Caietti and Bower were captured a few hours later, after running a roadblock near Grangeville, Idaho.

Thomas did not appear in court Tuesday, Kinn said, because she remains traumatized by the shooting.

The rape victim, still puzzled by the attack, could only ask questions.

“I just want to ask Willie: Why? I mean, I loved him like he was my own kid,” she told Superior Court Judge Robert Austin.

Judy Caietti sat in the gallery but declined to speak on her son’s behalf.

He pleaded guilty last month to two counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation, attempted first-degree kidnapping and car theft.

Bower is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to two robbery counts, first-degree assault with sexual motivation, first-degree kidnapping and car theft. He faces 22 to 27 years in prison.

Caietti has a prior juvenile conviction for second-degree robbery in 1992. The eighth-grade dropout spent time growing up in a foster home and living on the streets of Spokane.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Terence Ryan asked for a 22-year prison term, the low end of the standard sentencing range.

“Willie is so young,” he said.

But Austin cited the brutality of the crimes and Caietti’s lack of remorse before imposing the stiffer sentence.

As sheriff’s deputies led the handcuffed defendant out of the courtroom, he again yelled obscenities - this time at the rape victim.

Judy Caietti buried her face in her hands and cried.

“Oh, God,” she moaned.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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