Prosecutors fight release of rapist, suspect in Snohomish County cold cases

  • By Scott North and Diana Hefley Herald Writers
  • Thursday, September 8, 2011 8:01pm
  • Local NewsEverett

SEATTLE — Attorneys for a convicted rapist, suspected in the 1995 slayings of two Snohomish County women, made it clear Thursday they plan to vigorously contest the allegations against him, including the authority of prosecutors to keep him locked up under the state’s sexual predator law.

Da

nny Ross Giles, 43, appeared briefly in King County Superior Court, where a Sept. 23 hearing was scheduled on whether there is probable cause to keep him jailed as a dangerous, untreated sex offender.

But even that action was delayed nearly two hours Thursday while Giles’ attorneys tried to convince Judge Mariane Spearman that King County prosecutors have no legal standing to bring a civil action to require Giles’ indefinite detention while undergoing sex-offender treatment.

Giles’ attorneys Erick Spencer and Carey Huffman also argued that Giles didn’t need to be present for the hearing, which they said shouldn’t be happening.

“At this point, the state would hold that this is much ado about very little or nothing,” King County senior deputy prosecutor David Hackett said.

The judge ordered Giles brought into the courtroom and scheduled the Sept. 23 hearing to resolve whether the sexual-predator case against him will proceed.

The action was filed at the end of July as Giles was scheduled to be released from the Washington State Reformatory after serving every day possible for a 2005 sex crime in Seattle. He exposed himself to two co-eds near the University of Washington.

It was during that prison stretch that genetic tests allegedly linked Giles to two previously unsolved cases: the 1995 killing of Patti Berry and the presumed slaying of Tracey Brazzel. Brazzel disappeared just weeks before Berry’s body was found.

Giles was previously convicted of rape and two other sexually motivated crimes. He has repeatedly refused to participate in sex-offender treatment.

King County prosecutors filed the civil case after a doctor concluded that Giles meets the criteria for being civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. The expert said he did not consider the evidence about the unsolved killings.

The doctor noted that witnesses told detectives that Giles has talked about his fantasies of cutting people and watching them bleed to death, according to court records. One witness reported that Giles held a knife to her throat and forced her to have sex with him. He was never charged with a crime for that incident. Another witness told police that Giles once said that victims of Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway “did not deserve to be found.”

The doctor diagnosed Giles with mental disorders, including sexual sadism and sexual urges and behaviors based on coercion. Those make him more likely than not to commit a new sexually violent crime, the doctor concluded.

King County prosecutors will have to prove at trial that Giles meets the criteria if he is to be held indefinitely as a sexually violent predator. Meantime, Giles likely will be locked up at the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

Snohomish County detectives continue to investigate the Berry and Brazzel cases. Investigators have spoken with Giles more than once since receiving the results of the forensic tests. They also have been interviewing the man’s friends and other associates. No charges have been filed in the cold cases.

“We are watching with interest what’s happening in King County,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said.

Sheriff’s cold case detective Jim Scharf attended Thursday’s hearing. The homicide detective stood at the back of the courtroom as Giles was led away. The two made brief eye contact. The inmate smirked at Scharf and shook his head as he shuffled out in shackles.

Scharf has said he wants to bring Brazzel back to her family.

Brazzel was last seen May 26, 1995, leaving a south county pub. She was 22. Her car was found days later near her Lynnwood-area apartment. Brazzel has never been located.

Berry, 26, was reported missing July 31, 1995, after she failed to return from work at Honey’s, a former nude nightclub in south Everett. Her body was found about a week later in a wooded area behind the Everett Mall. She had died of multiple stab wounds to the neck.

Court records indicate that Giles was wanted on an arrest warrant during the time Brazzel went missing and Berry was killed.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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