Stanwood man gets 8 1/2 years for 4 felonies, including assault of bound woman

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge on Wednesday called a Stanwood man a predator who used brute force and degradation to control drug-addicted and vulnerable women.

Superior Court Judge Larry McKeeman then sentenced Larry Mulanax to 8 1/2 years in prison. The judge said the 69-year-old earned every day of the sentence.

Mulanax may have been a law-abiding citizen most of his life, but his behavior in July was extremely troubling, McKeeman said.

A jury convicted Mulanax of four felonies in connection with the disturbing assault of a woman at his home in July.

The woman’s hands and feet were bound and her head was shaved. Prosecutors alleged that Mulanax ordered the assault because he believed the woman stole from him and returned a car late.

The woman reported that Mulanax threatened to kill her if she went to police. Prosecutors alleged that Mulanax welcomed drug-addicted women into his home and gave them drugs in exchange for sex.

Detectives found naked pictures of the woman taken during the attack and her shorn ponytail in a safe by the defendant’s bed, court papers said. They also found a significant amount of crack cocaine in the safe.

Mulanax was convicted of drug dealing while armed with a gun, second-degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and intimidating a witness.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Valerie Bouffiou asked for the maximum sentence.

Mulanax maintained his innocence on Wednesday. His defense attorney, Jill Malat said that her client planned to appeal his conviction.

Malat asked for a low-end sentence, saying that Mulanax had no previous criminal history. She also pointed out that because of the way the law was written Mulanax was getting double punishment for having a gun. Because he was convicted of drug dealing while armed with a firearm, the standard range for the drug offense was higher. That was in addition to a mandatory three-year “hard time for armed crime” enhancement.

The standard range sentence is “astronomical” and likely will amount to a life sentence for her client, Malat said.

McKeeman was not swayed.

He called Mulanax’s explanation of the event “preposterous.” The judge said there are people in society who ignore those with drug addictions and those who work hard to help them. There are others who prey on them.

Mulanax is such a predator, McKeeman said.

Two other people, Richard Ace Brown and Jennifer Bertalan, have pleaded guilty in connection with the assault.

Prosecutors alleged that Brown cut off the woman’s ponytail. He also was accused of forcing the woman to take off her clothes and threatening to kill her. Brown lived in a travel trailer on Mulanax’s property.

Prosecutors allege that Bertalan used an electric razor to buzz cut the woman’s hair. She also pleaded guilty to a June 8 robbery at Mulanax’s home.

In that case, two masked men bound Mulanax with duct tape and tortured him into giving them the combination to a safe. He told investigators that the men used metal spoons and a filet knife that had been heated over a stove. Mulanax had a large burn in the center of his back.

Bertalan was accused of helping set up the home invasion. She told detectives that the robbery was in retaliation for an assault that Mulanax ordered for her. Two people forced their way into her motel room in May and shaved her head.

No charges were brought in that head-shaving incident.

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

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