February 3, 1996 in City

Teen Convicted Of Two Murders

From Staff And Wire Reports
 

Jurors on Friday convicted an 18-year-old of second-degree murder in the slayings of two members of the Bassett family of McCleary, but acquitted him in the death of Wendy Bassett.

Nicholaus McDonald had been charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Michael and Wendy Bassett, the parents, and the drowning of 5-year-old Austin Bassett.

Awaiting trial in March on the same charges is the older son in the family, 16-year-old Brian Bassett.

Jurors deliberated roughly two days before returning their verdict in Grays Harbor County Superior Court.

After the killings last Aug. 11 in the rural town, McDonald and Brian Bassett stole the family van and fled, Grays Harbor County deputy prosecutor Jerry Fuller told jurors during McDonald’s trail.

Defense lawyer David Hatch told jurors it was Brian Bassett who killed the family. Hatch said McDonald was outside when he heard gunshots. He said his client shot Michael Bassett only to put him out of his suffering.

Hatch also told the court that McDonald tried to prevent little Austin from being harmed but that Brian Bassett drowned his little brother while McDonald was cleaning up.

The prosecution told jurors the two teens had a homosexual relationship and jointly planned to kill the family, steal money and belongings and flee to California.

McDonald contacted police in Oregon when the two stopped to rest.

The jury was chosen in neighboring Thurston County because of strong community sentiment.

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