Allen Ivanov during his arraignment proceedings in August. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Allen Ivanov during his arraignment proceedings in August. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Lawyer: Death penalty ‘not right choice’ in Mukilteo shootings

EVERETT — Allen Ivanov’s attorneys plan to ask a judge to give them more time to compile information about the young man and his background in an effort to convince prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.

Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe has given the defense team until Friday to provide him with materials to take under consideration before he decides whether to pursue Ivanov’s execution. Roe has said he’d announce his decision by mid-December.

Ivanov’s “life continues to have value,” defense attorney Walter Peale wrote in an email to The Daily Herald.

“With more time I’m confident I can show why the death penalty is not the right choice for the victims’ families. If convicted or if he were to enter a guilty plea, a life sentence will avoid endless delay, provide closure and avoid extreme cost,” he wrote.

Peale said if Roe is going to present the mitigation materials to the survivors for their consideration, he wants them to have a full picture of Ivanov, 20.

The crime he is accused of committing is a “terrible and senseless act,” Peale wrote. His client, however, if he’s convicted, is “not the worst of the worst.” Peale referenced several recent aggravated murder cases in which prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty or jurors spared the defendants their lives.

“Allen is less deserving of death than they and certainly less deserving of death than the Green River Killer who is now serving a life sentence in prison,” Peale wrote.

His client is immature and naive. “His history and young life show a pattern of mental illness, untreated but suspected. His behavior before and now is a cry for help as it is a confession to a terrible crime,” the longtime defense attorney wrote.

Ivanov is charged with aggravated murder in the killings of Anna Bui, Jacob Long and Jordan Ebner, all 19. He’s also accused of trying to kill Will Kramer, who was shot in the back, and two other young men, whom the defendant allegedly shot at as they ran for cover.

In Washington, the only punishment for an aggravated murder conviction is death or life in prison without the possibility of release. Gov. Jay Inslee enacted a moratorium on executions shortly after taking office. That doesn’t prevent county prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty.

Ivanov allegedly told detectives that he ambushed Bui, his former girlfriend, and her friends at the Mukilteo house party because he was upset over the end of their relationship. He had broken up with her a few months before the shootings. She reportedly rejected his efforts at reconciliation.

About 20 people were at the house party when Ivanov opened fire. Most of the young people had graduated from Kamiak High School.

The Daily Herald recently obtained a letter Ivanov wrote prior to the killings, along with hundreds of text messages. The materials show that Ivanov was considering shooting Bui days before he tracked her down to the party. In the letter, he tried to control the narrative even before he began pulling the trigger.

“You know what’s funny? The media is going to portray me as some unstable, overly emotional, crazy lunatic,” he allegedly wrote. “There’s nothing wrong (with) me or the way I think. There’s really nothing wrong with me: I have a roof over my head, access to food and resources, a loving family, an amazing job, etc. I’m selfish. That’s why I did this.”

The Daily Herald also was provided a jailhouse letter Ivanov allegedly wrote in October to a former cellmate, a man convicted of murdering a Lynnwood piano teacher. The letter included rap lyrics that glorify violence and reference the mass shooting in Mukilteo.

Peale said his client is remorseful but overwhelmed.

“He is not prepared for the conditions he faces now in jail,” Peale wrote. “His musings are a way to come to grips with a possible sentence that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life or kill him.”

His client doesn’t have any prior legal problems or a history of violence. “He finds himself in a completely foreign situation,” Peale wrote.

Ivanov’s writings likely will be scrutinized by both sides as they explore the young man’s state of mind before the shooting and afterward. That could be at the heart of the case if his lawyers decide to present information about his mental health as a possible explanation for his actions.

Roe has denied the request for more time, Peale said. The defense attorneys plan to ask Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis to weigh in.

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

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