Strandberg pleads guilty
Defense wants psychiatric care ordered for man who killed woman with crossbow
Cole K. Strandberg has pleaded guilty to killing a Spokane woman with a crossbow in 2008.
Defense attorney Chris Bugbee has acknowledged in past hearings that Strandberg killed 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008. However, Bugbee argued unsuccessfully to have Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen find Strandberg, 25, not guilty by reason of insanity.
Now, as part of a deal with Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla, Strandberg on Friday pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with sexual motivation while armed with a deadly weapon that is not a firearm.
Under the deal, Bugbee can ask Eitzen to sentence Strandberg to the low end of the sentencing range, which he said was between 30 and 38 years in prison.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 12, the date originally set for Strandberg’s trial.
“Sometimes things just come together,” Bugbee said of the plea agreement. “Part of the recommendation deals with on-going treatment while (Strandberg is) in the custody of” the state Department of Corrections.
However, it’s unclear whether Eitzen will have the authority to compel the Corrections Department to see that Strandberg receives care by both a psychologist and a psychiatrist.
“Despite what Eastern State Hospital says, he has a severe mental illness,” Bugbee said. “Once he has received proper medication, his demeanor has changed. He’s much safer when he’s on his meds, not only for himself but anyone who is in charge of guarding him while in custody.”
Since he was arrested, Strandberg has injured two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies who were guarding him, in one case breaking a bone in a deputy’s neck. Strandberg also was ordered shackled to a table for one court appearance.
Previous testimony indicated that Strandberg has what’s known as early-onset paranoid schizophrenia in which he receives orders to kill from an imaginary drill sergeant named Smokey Kaiser.