EVERETT — The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied a request to revisit the sentencing of Brandon Backstrom, who as a teenager murdered a woman and her 12-year-old daughter in Everett in 1997.
Backstrom, now 38, asked the court to reconsider the lighter sentence he received more than a year ago when his case was re-opened as part of state and national reforms around offenders who were incarcerated as juveniles.
“Essentially, Backstrom contends only that the court did not weigh the mitigating factors in the manner most favorable to him,” according to the eight-page ruling.
Backstrom was convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and initially was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a minor to receive that sort of punishment. His sentence was reduced in Snohomish County Superior Court in June 2017, to a minimum of 42 years.
Backstrom was 17 at the time of the murders. He lived near Marnie Walls, 30, and had planned to rob her. The woman was home with her daughter, Korree Olin, at the time.
The girl’s father arrived to pick her up the next day and found the bodies. Each had been stabbed more than 50 times, and Walls had been bludgeoned with a large pair of wire cutters.
In 2012, the federal court ruled that sentencing a minor to life in prison violates the Eighth Amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. Young people can still receive that sentence, but only after a judge has considered the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s life.
Many Snohomish County offenders from decades ago have been getting new hearings as they become eligible to petition for parole earlier than planned.
Backstrom argued that the Superior Court judge failed to fully examine what his life was like as a teenager. His grandparents were the only family support he had, and he was drinking heavily and skipping school, according to court papers.
The state found that the second sentencing followed proper procedure.
Backstrom is in the Clallam Bay Correctional Center. He can seek parole in about 20 years.