Reported by Diana Hefley / Herald Writer
It’s been almost 20 years since Washington voters overwhelmingly passed the Persistent Offender Accountability Act — more commonly known as the “three-strikes” law. In Snohomish County, 32 people have been sentenced to life in prison as persistent offenders. One in five have had sentences overturned. A few beat a life sentence once but later were convicted of another strike and sentenced to life.
Below is a complete list.
Under the law, dozens of violent felony crimes are labeled “most serious offenses” and categorized as “strikes.” If a person racks up three strikes, the law mandates a sentence of life in prison without possibility of release.
Strike crimes include murder, assault, extortion, burglary while armed with a deadly weapon and robbery.
Legislators passed a similar law in 1996, specifically targeting sex offenders. Under that law, anyone who is convicted of two sex crimes on separate occasions also faces a life sentence.
Data show that more than half of Snohomish County persistent offenders were sentenced within the first five years of the law’s enactment in 1994. About a dozen people have been prosecuted as strikers since 2000.
The majority of the third-strike cases in Snohomish County involved first- and second-degree robbery and second-degree assault convictions. There have been a handful of men sentenced to life for sex offenses.
Proponents believed the tougher sentencing law would put away the most dangerous criminals, reduce the number of habitual offenders and bring consistency to sentences.
Opponents say the law stole any discretion that judges had to evaluate the circumstances of each case in a way that is just and fair.
Since the strike laws were passed, statewide there have been 414 people sentenced to life as a striker, according to the state Department of Corrections. Sixty-five of those cases, about 16 percent, have been overturned.
There are 320 offenders serving life sentences under the persistent offender laws. The vast majority are third-strikers. There are 49 sex offenders serving life for a second sex-offense conviction.
Washington’s three-strike law was the first in the country and came on the heels of horrific and highly publicized crimes committed by habitual offenders. Its passage in 1993 made national headlines, as did the first offenders sentenced under the new law. Since then about two dozen other states have enacted similar laws.
Snohomish County’s persistent offenders
|Name||Sentenced||Offense||Type of life sentence||Age at sentencing||Gender||Race||Appeal outcome|
|Larry L. Fisher||6/20/1994||Robbery 2||Three strikes||36||M||White|
|Dwight A. Griffin||11/17/1994||Robbery 1 (attempted)||Three strikes||42||M||Black|
|James M. Thorne||12/16/1994||Kidnapping 1||Three strikes||52||M||White||Overturned|
|Sabas E. Cruz||1/5/1995||Rape of a child 1||Three strikes||41||M||White||Overturned|
|Martin J. Morley||1/27/1995||Child molestation 2||Three strikes||39||M||White|
|William B. Greene||7/14/1995||Kidnapping 1||Three strikes||41||M||White|
|William C. Mulholland||3/1/1996||Assault 2 (deadly weapon)||Three strikes||32||M||White||Overturned|
|Flint D. Harris||6/4/1996||Robbery 2||Three strikes||40||M||White||Overturned|
|Jacqueline M. Fletcher||7/14/1996||Robbery 2||Three strikes||32||F||White|
|Eugene Smith||10/4/1996||Robbery 1 (deadly weapon)||Three strikes||41||M||Black|
|Lawrence D. Fillion||10/16/1996||Robbery 2||Three strikes||25||M||White|
|James E. Swann||10/16/1996||Robbery 2||Three strikes||32||M||White|
|Herbert A. Blumer III||10/21/1996||Murder 1 (attempted)||Three strikes||37||M||White|
|Edwin L. Fitzgerald||10/25/1996||Rape of a child 1||Three strikes||37||M||White|
|David L. Ball||10/28/1996||Assault 2||Three strikes||40||M||Native Am.|
|Kurt J. Angelone||1/17/1997||Murder 1 (attempted)||Three strikes||43||M||White|
|Robert J. King III||3/26/1997||Kidnapping 1 (firearm)||Three strikes||44||M||Black|
|Richard R. Astrides||7/7/1997||Robbery 2||Three strikes||44||M||White|
|Hubba D. Teal||5/15/1998||Robbery 1 (firearm)||Three strikes||22||M||Black||Overturned|
|Brian R. Beals||2/18/1999||Robbery 1 (attempted, deadly weapon)||Three strikes||43||M||White|
|Hubba D. Teal||8/20/1999||Robbery 1||Three strikes||23||M||Black||Overturned|
|Cherease L. Cross||3/27/2000||Robbery 2||Three strikes||38||F||Black|
|Anthony D. Snow||12/15/2000||Rape 2||Three strikes||33||M||Black|
|Gaylon L. Thiefault||8/10/2001||Rape 2 (attempted)||Sex offenses||40||M||White||Resentenced|
|Jamie L. Wallin||7/31/2003||Rape of a child 1||Sex offenses||29||M||White||Overturned|
|Robert L. Vance||9/2/2003||Child molestation 1||Sex offenses||51||M||White|
|Gaylon L. Thiefault||10/1/2003||Rape 2 (attempted, same case as 8/10/2001 sentencing)||Three strikes||41||M||White|
|Tronie J. Young||12/1/2003||Murder 2||Three strikes||28||M||Black|
|Matthew J. Fica||2/3/2005||Rape of a child 2||Sex offenses||46||M||White|
|Nelson A. Anselment||10/12/2005||Robbery 1||Three strikes||67||M||White|
|Michael J. Hoover||11/14/2006||Robbery 1||Three strikes||34||M||White|
|Anthony P. Viscussi||4/5/2007||Assault 2||Three strikes||27||M||White|
|Jamie L. Wallin||6/27/2007||Child molestation 1||Sex offenses||33||M||White|
|Jamie L. Wallin||3/12/2008||Rape of a child 1||Sex offenses||33||M||White|
|James M. Thorne||4/7/2009||Robbery 1||Three strikes||66||M||White|
|Jerry A. Perkins||3/23/2011||Assault 2||Three strikes||40||M||White|
|Donald A. Elliott||6/9/2011||Robbery 2||Three strikes||45||M||White|