Dancer competent for trial, judge says

By JIM HALEY

Herald Writer

An Edmonds exotic dancer accused of shooting a man in the head was found competent Monday to stand trial on a murder charge.

Marygrace H. Fajarilloc, 22, is accused of second-degree murder in the May 24, 1999, death of Daniel Hjellen 22, at the victim’s home in Everett.

Fajarillo has spent much of the intervening time at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom undergoing psychiatric evaluation and treatment, lawyers said. Mickey Krom, her defense lawyer, said he investigated the possibility of an insanity plea for a while.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris set a Nov. 3 trial date, but Krom said it’s unlikely the case will go to trial.

In court, Krom told the judge Monday it’s likely Fajarillo will plead guilty to second-degree murder within the next two weeks.

Deputy prosecutor Chris Dickinson said he’s certain Fajarillo has mental problems because "she shot a man in the head for no particular reason."

However, he said she is now competent to be tried.

In fact, the prosecutor said he has contemplated increasing the charge to first-degree murder because Fajarillo allegedly went through Hjellen’s pockets, taking cash and keys, he said.

A death during a robbery is a cause for charging first-degree murder, Dickinson said.

A first-degree murder conviction would get someone a minimum of 20 years in prison. A second-degree murder conviction is more likely to net Fajarillo 12 years behind bars, Dickinson said.

Krom said Fajarillo is more likely to plead guilty because the prosecutor has discussed increasing the charges.

"They threatened to charge her with first-degree murder if she doesn’t" plead guilty, the defense lawyer said.

Fajarillo has been sent to Western State Hospital several times with varying results. The hospital once found her incompetent to stand trial, and more recently said she was competent and could help in her defense. She also was in the state hospital to straighten out her anti-psychotic medication.

Dickinson said Fajarillo used to work in topless clubs in Snohomish and King counties. Her former boyfriend was Hjellen’s roommate, and she was visiting at the time of the death. According to charging papers, Fajarillo told police she had shot the victim and gave various reasons for it.

Prior to the shooting, she had asked the slain man to loan her some money to keep her from being evicted from the motel where she was living. Prosecutors also alleged that Fajarillo was interested in guns, enjoyed shooting them and made statements about shooting people in the head.

After allegedly shooting Hjellen, prosecutors said she went to her parents’ home in Edmonds, where police tracked her down. According to documents, she still had the pistol used in the shooting.

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