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Graham sentenced in mallet attack on Centennial Trail

Wed., Dec. 18, 2013

The 18-year-old man who will spend most of the next decade in prison for stabbing a woman to death near the Spokane River received forgiveness Tuesday for a robbery that kick-started the murder case against him.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” Avondre Graham said to Debbie Watkins, the woman he attacked with a mallet on the Centennial Trail in September 2012, stealing her cellphone and leaving her with a gash on her head that required four stitches. “I did not mean to do it. I was not on medications, and I hope you can forgive me.”

“I do,” Watkins said, nodding.

Graham will serve 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery in the case.

That sentence will be served at the same time as a nearly 10-year term Graham received for the May 2012 stabbing death of Sharlotte McGill.

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno approved the deal, devised by defense attorneys and prosecutors who also brokered the murder sentencing.

“Evidence issues” were cited by prosecutors as a reason they sought to resolve the murder case before trial.

DNA evidence linking Graham to McGill’s death was never discovered, and the teenager, diagnosed with mental illness and showing signs of mental disability, raised questions in court about the admissibility of confessions made to police following the robbery arrest.

Despite approving the sentence, Moreno said she had concerns about Graham’s future following his time in prison.

“You scared the community,” Moreno told Graham. “You’ve taken a life, and you scared people on the Centennial Trail.”

Graham’s attorney, Thomas Krzyminksi, called his client “a troubled young man” and assured Moreno that Graham would be taking prescribed medication and complete anger management counseling while incarcerated.

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