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Cascade Mall shooting suspect to undergo competency evaluation

By Marilyn Napier Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.)

MOUNT VERNON – The 20-year-old Oak Harbor man charged with five counts of aggravated murder for the Sept. 23 shooting at Cascade Mall did not enter a plea Thursday in Skagit County Superior Court.

Arcan Cetin’s defense attorneys asked the court for a competency evaluation to determine whether Cetin is competent to stand trial. The evaluation will done by Western State Hospital.

Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich said the state does not have an opinion on Cetin’s competency.

“I wasn’t terribly surprised, but I assumed we would be having an arraignment,” Weyrich said regarding the motion for a competency evaluation.

If Cetin is found competent, he will be arraigned in two weeks, Weyrich said.

Court records obtained from Island County District Court show a judge ordered Cetin to undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations in February 2015 after he had multiple assault and sexual harassment charges filed against him.

As of May 2016, court documents show he was under the care of a psychiatrist.

The aggravated murder charges allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors have 30 days from Cetin’s arraignment to decide if they will pursue the death penalty.

With nine inmates on death row, Washington is one of 31 states with the death penalty, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center.

Weyrich did not offer his opinion on the death penalty. However, he said he believes voters should have a say in whether the state should retain the death penalty as an option in cases of aggravated murder.

As president of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Weyrich said he would like to have the state Legislature put an initiative on a ballot to let voters decide on the death penalty.

In 2014, Gov. Jay Inslee suspended the use of the death penalty in Washington, saying “there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system.”

Washington is one of four states with a governor-imposed moratorium on the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Documents released by the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office because of a public records request reveal Cetin told detectives he had no motive for the shooting and that the victims were selected at random.

Weyrich said Cetin’s motive is “something that will come out as we move along.”

The shooting at the Macy’s store in Burlington killed three women, one man and one teenage girl.

The victims of the shooting were Sarai Lara, 16, of Mount Vernon; Shayla Martin, 52, of Mount Vernon; Chuck Eagan, 61, of Lake Stevens, Belinda Galde, 64, of Arlington and her mother Beatrice Dotson, 95, of Kingsport, Tennessee.

Cetin remains in Skagit County Jail on $2 million bail.

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