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Washington high court throws out child killer’s sentence

The Washington state Supreme Court today threw out the unusually long sentence of a notorious Spokane child killer, sending Robert Doney Jr. back to court for resentencing.

Essentially, the court said that a Spokane County judge erred in how he handled the exceptional sentence, which added seven years to his nearly 28-year murder sentence.

“He’ll be resentenced,” said Deputy Prosecutor Mark E. Lindsey. “The question is whether we have the legal basis to empanel a jury and seek an exceptional sentence.”

A day after Christmas 2003, Doney killed his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter out of spite after arguing with the woman.

But the case took place during a brief window between a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision and a subsequent change in the law by Washington state legislators.

The state Supreme Court today ruled that a local judge essentially jumped the gun in how he handled the case, complying with the high court’s decision before lawmakers modified Washington law.

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