July 31, 2009 in City

Russell appeals vehicular homicide conviction

By The Spokesman-Review
Christopher Anderson photo

Frederick Russell turns to address the families of victims in the Whitman County Superior Court of Judge David Frazier in Colfax Wednesday January 2, 2008 . Russell was sentenced to 171 months for his convictions on vehicular homicide and assault. CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON The Spokesman-Review
(Full-size photo)

Despite apologizing for the drunken crash that killed three Washington State University students and seriously injured three others, Fred Russell has appealed his conviction and 14-year prison sentence.

Russell’s appeal is pending before the state Court of Appeals, Division III. Russell’s attorney, Dennis Morgan, filed a 116-page brief on July 15; a response from the state attorney general’s office is due by Sept. 17, said clerk Renee Townsley. After the response by the state, the case will be scheduled for a hearing.

In his briefing, Morgan, of Ritzville, questioned the legality of the search warrant, chain of custody of evidence, the admissibility of Russell’s blood draw and legal authority to arrest Russell.

A Cowlitz County jury convicted Russell on Nov. 6, 2007, on three counts of vehicular homicide relating to the deaths of WSU students Stacy Morrow, 21, of Milton, Wash; Ryan Sorensen, 21, of Westport, Wash; and Brandon Clements, 22, of Wapato, Wash.

Russell was also found guilty of vehicular assault for injuring three other students in the June 4, 2001 crash: John “Matt” Wagner, of Spokane; Kara Eichelsdoerfer, of Central Park, Wash; and Sameer Ranade, of Kennewick.

Shortly before his first trial was scheduled to start in 2001, Russell fled the country after receiving multiple death threats. He lived in Ireland under an assumed name until Oct. 23, 2005, when he was captured by U.S. marshals. He was extradited to the United States in November 2006.

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