20 years sought in strangling case


Herald Writer

Snohomish County prosecutors plan today to seek nearly two decades in prison for a young Darrington man who attempted in April to strangle a Marysville girl in her home.

Jeffrey Todd White’s crimes are "off the end of the depravity scale" and deserve the maximum punishment allowed under state sentencing guidelines, deputy prosecutor Mark Roe said in court papers filed Wednesday.

White, 20, earlier this year pleaded guilty to one count of attempted second-degree murder and one count of first-degree burglary in connection with the attack on the girl, 14.

The girl told police she awoke to find White in her room and then was choked unconscious. The attack ended only after her brother, 17, heard thumping noises coming from her room, went to investigate and fought with the assailant.

White finally ran away after the girl’s father fired a warning shot from his handgun.

White has five felony convictions, including assault, robbery and burglary, both as an adult and a juvenile.

He invaded his victims’ home and "forever obliterated" their sense of security, Roe wrote.

"It’s bad to try to kill someone for any reason. It’s worse to try to kill someone for virtually no reason. It’s even worse than that to try to kill a child, no matter where you try it. It’s worse yet to try to kill her in her own home, bedroom and bed. It’s worse still when you broke into her house in the first place to steal, rape or God knows what else," the prosecutor added.

Under the plea, White openly admitted to burglary and choking the girl. At the same time, he entered a so-called Alford plea to the attempted murder charge, maintaining he does not believe he committed the offense but conceding he would probably have been convicted at trial. An Alford plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

White’s public defender, Neal Friedman, earlier said his client entered the pleas in part to avoid a longer sentence of 25 years behind bars if, as was possible, a jury had found him guilty of the more serious offense of attempted first-degree murder.

He’s filed court papers questioning whether all of White’s prior convictions should be factored into his sentence.

Prosecutors maintain White’s criminal history mandates a prison term of somewhere between 13 years to a few months shy of 20 years behind bars.

Sentencing is scheduled this afternoon before Superior Court Judge Richard Thorpe.

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