A jury handed convicted rapist Terrance Laramie another chance at freedom.
The jury unanimously ruled Wednesday that Laramie no longer meets the definition of a sexually violent predator, a label that Laramie willingly accepted years ago as part of a plea deal that put him under state supervision for the rest of his life.
Laramie, 54, cried and hugged his attorneys after the jury set him free for the first time since 2005. It was also the first-ever case in Spokane County where a convicted rapist was released following a civil commitment trial.
“He’s worked very hard to turn his life around,” attorney Marla Polin said. “I think he’ll do really well. For the first time in his life, he has people who love him and support him. That’s a big motivation.”
Laramie, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, testified during the weeks-long trial about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents.
Laramie’s own mother shot his father. He survived.
The violence and abuse left Laramie angry and affected how he dealt with women, said his attorney Christine Sanders.
“He became addicted to drugs and alcohol at an early age,” Sanders said. “He had a terrible attitude toward women. He didn’t think women were entitled to tell him ‘No’ if they gave him any indication they wanted sex.”
Along with a laundry list of other crimes, Laramie has four rape-related convictions, including one case, when as a teenager, he raped 15-year-old girl while holding a fork to her neck; and another case when he raped a 17-year-old girl he found walking home from school.
The last conviction came in 2005 after he forced methamphetamines into his girlfriend’s arm before raping her. At the end of his five-year sentence for that crime, the state started the process to civilly commit him as a sexually violent predator.
Laramie agreed in 2011 to that designation in exchange for the state allowing Laramie to live in a halfway house in Seattle instead of at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, where the state sends many of its worst sex offenders. The plea deal came with conditions, including that Laramie was not to have sexual relations without first informing state agents overseeing his release conditions.
But Laramie formed a relationship in 2014 with a woman he met during Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
He didn’t tell anyone.
But when the agents found out, they sent him back to McNeil Island.
Then in 2015, a state psychologist ruled that Laramie’s anti-personality disorder had improved to the point where the state no longer had a legal basis to hold him. Laramie sought a trial that could win his freedom.
During the trial, Laramie testified that he could only remember one 10-month stretch of sobriety during his entire life until 2009 – when he learned his own son had been sent to the same prison that housed him.
“He realized, ‘Maybe it was me all along and if I quit drinking, things will change,’” Sanders said. “From then on, everything he did was geared toward protecting his sobriety.”
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