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Doug Clark: Yates breathing is majorly disappointing

SUNDAY, SEPT. 30, 2007

You know Halloween is creeping right around the corner when the zombies start dominating the front page.

Friday’s Spokesman-Review featured a colorfully gruesome top-of- the-page promotion for our 7 section’s seasonal tribute to the undead.

But what chilled my bones was the story right below concerning the latest on Washington’s real-life monster: Robert Lee Yates Jr.

It seems the state Supreme Court has upheld the Pierce County conviction and death sentence of the serial killer whose bloody deeds included murdering 10 people in Spokane County.

This development provoked Thomas Kummerow, a Yates attorney, to utter: “Needless to say, we’re majorly disappointed.”

You’re not the only one, Tom.

I’m majorly disappointed that your client still sucks in O{-2} and blows out C0{-2}.

I’m majorly disappointed that we good taxpayers of Washington must foot the bill for the sustenance that Yates puts down his gullet.

Ditto the cost of the power that heats and lights up the space where Yates is caged.

And the pay for guards and the health care and the legal bills …

Yes, it’s majorly disappointing that this one-man freak show – who buried one victim under the bedroom window of his South Hill home – hasn’t yet taken his own dirt nap.

Yates prowled Spokane like a vampire. He trolled the city’s seamier sections in his white Corvette, patronizing prostitutes, killing them when he felt the urge.

Police were always a step or two behind until, finally, the case fell together.

Yates fit the classic serial killer profile: a nondescript white guy living a secret double life of unspeakable evil.

The years since his 2000 arrest also have mirrored a classic pattern: frustrating glacial-paced justice.

Have you ever contemplated the moral compartmentalization it must take to be part of a legal defense team for a Ted Bundy or a Robert Yates?

“Daddy, what did you do today?”

“Oh, sweetie. Daddy was real busy in court. He was trying to persuade some judges to keep alive a bloodthirsty bastard who devoted much of his adult life to stalking and killing human prey, whose murderous acts ripped up the lives of the victims’ friends and family members.

“That’s what Daddy did today.”

The galling nerve of the Save Yates gang is one for the ages.

Part of the case they argued before the state Supremes last November reduced Yates’ carnage to an abstract numbers game.

It went something like this:

It’s not fair for Yates to be sentenced to death in Pierce County for two measly murders when he killed so many more in Spokane County and only got life without parole.

“You look at 2 versus 13. The same crimes … That’s disproportionate on its face,” said Kummerov.

Yeah. How majorly disappointing.

Fortunately, the court rejected this nonsense. Well, most of the court did, that is.

As the lone dissenter, Justice Richard Sanders wrote that he “cannot uphold a death sentence resulting from a trial riddled with constitutional error.”

Let us pause a moment to forever lock the name Richard Sanders into our collective memory banks.

Someday, hopefully, we’ll all get a chance to NOT vote for this disappointment.

Justice Susan Owens wrote for the majority: “We conclude that Yates’ death sentence was not excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant.”

You go, girl!

Oh, I know the death penalty is flawed. I know the process is convoluted and constipated.

This legal decision is bound for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. And the days will turn into months and the months into years.

And I will remain majorly disappointed until the day this stone-cold, merciless creature assumes room temperature via the justice he deserves.


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