Northwest briefly: Killer apologizes, asks that his life be spared

  • Mon May 3rd, 2010 10:19pm
  • News

SEATTLE — Lawyers made their closing arguments Monday in the sentencing phase of the trial of the man convicted of killing two women and two children in Kirkland.

The King County Superior Court jury that convicted Conner Schierman will decide whether the 28-year-old should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Schierman took the stand for 25 minutes in the Seattle courtroom and emotionally apologized to the victims’ family, saying he was sorry for their loss.

“I know you don’t want to hear my words,” he said. “You want your family back.”

Fighting back tears, he asked the jury to spare his life — for his family’s sake.

“I’m asking for your mercy,” he said. “If not for me, then for those who love me.”

Schierman did not acknowledge the killings. He has said he was in an alcoholic blackout when the four were killed and their home set on fire in July 2006.

He was convicted April 12 of four counts of aggravated murder and one count of arson.

Schierman said that living behind bars is already hell.

Bodies found in motel

The bodies of a man and a woman have been found in a north Seattle motel.

Police spokeswoman Renee Witt said the manager reported finding the two bodies before 1 p.m. Monday in a unit of the motel in the 8600 block of Aurora Avenue.

Witt says there is no immediate indication of how they died. Homicide detectives responded to the scene.

The motel manager said the couple hadn’t been heard from in 10 days.

Students rally vs. tuition hikes

About 50 University of Washington students and their supporters demonstrated Monday against tuition hikes and budget cuts. They marched and picketed at an entrance to the campus in Seattle, calling the action a strike. They were watched by Seattle and campus police. UW spokesman Norm Arkans told KOMO Radio the university has made larger cuts to administration than teaching, trying to preserve the academic core.

Beaten Shoreline man dies

A King County sheriff’s spokesman said a Shoreline man who was hit in the head with a table leg as he napped on a couch in his basement has died. Sgt. John Urquhart said Monday the 31-year-old victim died overnight at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He was beaten April 25. A male housemate accused in the beating turned himself in last week and has been jailed on a first-degree assault warrant. Bail for 23-year-old Stephen Pollock was earlier set at $1 million. Urguhart said detectives expect the prosecutor’s Office to upgrade the assault charge to a homicide charge.

Tacoma: Fleeing driver shot

A Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman said a driver shot by a deputy after a chase is expected to survive. Spokesman Ed Troyer said the 21-year-old man has been taken to Tacoma General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No one else was hurt.

The incident began about 3:15 a.m. Monday with a traffic stop in the Parkland area. The driver sped off and the chase went into south Tacoma. Troyer said after the car was forced to a stop it rammed a patrol car. Troyer said a deputy outside the car was threatened so another deputy fired.

Olympia: Transients told to go

Olympia police plan to clear out homeless people who have been camping along a hiking-and-biking trail and drawing complaints from neighbors about drug abuse and sanitation.

Cmdr. Steve Nelson told The Olympian that officers will begin walking along the Woodland Trail this week, informally warning campers to move along. If they don’t, police will remove them in two weeks.

Nelson said people who refuse to leave could be charged with trespassing. But, he hopes by giving plenty of notice they’ll leave on their own.

Two weeks ago police and other Olympia city employees persuaded about two-dozen illegal campers to leave Grass Lakes Refuge.

Bellingham: Worker eligibility

Whatcom County is moving forward with implementing a federal program that checks a worker’s eligibility to work in the United States. County Deputy Administrator Dewey Desler said the county is working to quickly implement a one-year pilot project of the program E-Verify, which is administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

The Bellingham Herald reported the county will use the program to check the eligibility of county employees and contractors. Around the state, Clark and Pierce counties have also implemented the federal program.

Seattle City Light fined for spill

The state Department of Ecology has fined Seattle City Light $11,000 for spilling 150 gallons of oil to Diablo Lake from the Ross Dam powerhouse. The department also cited the utility for failing to promptly report the June 19, 2008 spill.

The announcement Monday said insulating oil leaked from a broken transformer cooling tube and mixed with cooling water that discharges into Diablo Lake. The lake is located in the Ross Lake National Recreation area, which is part of the North Cascades National Park. The department said the utility has since upgraded equipment at the Ross Dam powerhouse and other facilities to prevent spills.

Spokane: No clues in slaying

The Spokane County sheriff’s office said searchers found no evidence in a sweep of the area where a transient’s body was discovered in Dishman Hills.

The sheriff’s office said the 46-year-old man found Friday afternoon was apparently killed. He had been camping and living in and out of various shelters.

Yakima: Gang shooting

Police said a shooting outside a Yakima church was apparently gang-related. A man standing outside St. Michael’s Episcopal church Saturday was the intended target.

The Yakima Herald-Republic said no one was hurt, although others were inside and outside the church as several bullets hit the building. The shooter got away.

Oregon: Jail for Army captain

An Oregon man who stole nearly $700,000 from the U.S. government while serving as an Army captain in Iraq was sentenced to 30 months in prison Monday.

Michael Dung Nguyen, a graduate of West Point, acknowledged stealing more than $690,000 entrusted to him for distribution to Iraqi humanitarian relief, rebuilding projects and security services. The 28-year-old pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering charges in December.

U.S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty also ordered Nguyen to undergo mental health treatment, serve three years of post-prison supervision and pay back $200,000 that he spent on expensive cars and other items while trying to hide the money he stole.

Federal investigators say that between April 2007 and the end of his tour a battalion civil affairs officer in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, in June 2008, Nguyen peeled bills from the bundled stacks, put them in boxes and sent them to his home in Beaverton, Ore.

Nguyen, based out of Fort Lewis, tried to hide the money by depositing it in amounts of less than $10,000 at banks around Portland. But he caught the interest of the Portland office of the Internal Revenue Service, which then uncovered his purchase of a BMW, a Hummer, electronic equipment and furniture. Federal investigators also found $300,000 cash hidden in the attic of his house.

Arizona: Sex offender arrested

Federal authorities say a Mexican man who’s a deported sex offender has been arrested in Arizona. U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Yuma Sector said Candelario Aldaba-De la Cerda was taken into custody early Sunday near San Luis, Ariz., for illegally re-entering the United States. He was later transported to the Yuma Station for processing. Authorities say Aldaba was a previously deported sex offender with a record of sexual assault with a minor in the state of Washington. They say his felony conviction netted him a 51-month jail term with 48 months of supervised release.

Idaho: New sage grouse lawsuit

An environmental group has filed another legal challenge over the federal government’s decision not to give the sage grouse protection under the Endangered Species Act.

In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled the sage grouse warranted threatened or endangered status, but formal listing under the law was precluded by other agency priorities.

Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boise Friday. The group’s lawyers compare the decision to putting the bird in the “black hole” of species denied protective status.

It’s a separate case from the legal challenge that forced the agency to reconsider its 2005 decision not to grant the bird protection.

Once abundant in the West the bird’s population has declined due to grazing, wildfires, energy development and other influences on its habitat.

From Herald news services