On the eve of trial, Robert Kennedy pleaded guilty to seven felony charges, including theft and burglary. Prosecutors agreed to drop murder charges, sparing Kennedy, 27, an automatic life sentence.
Kennedy has prior convictions for robbery. If convicted of murder or robbery, he was facing his third strike under the state's persistent offender law. Instead, prosecutors reduced the charges in exchange for Kennedy agreeing to a 50-year prison sentence.
“The decision to allow the defendant an opportunity to avoid a life sentence should not be taken as an act of leniency or in any way mitigate the defendant's culpability for his homicidal violence,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf wrote in court papers.
The decision was made to secure a long prison sentence without the risk of a trial, he added. Numerous witnesses were reluctant to testify; many of them drug addicts. One key witness, a 13-year-old boy, “was traumatized not only by what he saw and heard, but also by the prospect of testifying as a primary witness in a murder trial,” Alsdorf wrote.
Additionally, a third-strike conviction likely would have resulted in a drawn out appeal's process.
Arthur Schroeder was stabbed to death inside his Marysville mobile home. Prosecutors alleged that his neighbor Delaney Henry set up the robbery. She used to help Schroeder with chores and knew that he kept cash around the house.
Prosecutors alleged that Henry taught Kennedy the unique knock that would have made Schroeder believe that his neighbor was at the door on Jan. 24, 2013.
The elderly man was stabbed four times and his throat was sliced. His trailer was ransacked. His wallet, jewelry box and pickup truck were missing.
In the hours after the murder, Henry told people that she was responsible for stabbing Schroeder. She also alleged that he had sexually assaulted her and the murder was revenge for the attack. Schroeder was a registered sex offender.
Later, Henry told detectives that she never was sexually assaulted by her neighbor. She also told them that she wasn't in the trailer when Schroeder was killed. She waited outside as a look out. Two polygraphs concluded that she was telling the truth, court papers said. Henry did help loot the trailer after the killing.
Henry pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 14-year prison sentence.
Kennedy was sentenced earlier this month. If he behaves in prison, he could be out by 2047. He will be 60.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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