Finch gets life in prison after jury fails to agree

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

EVERETT – A convicted double murderer was spared a death sentence today after a Snohomish County jury was unable to reach agreement on his punishment.

Jurors were split on deciding whether Charles Ben Finch, 51, should receive a death sentence or life in prison without possibility of release for the August 1994 aggravated murders near Cathcart of sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Kinard, 34, and Ronald Modlin, 38, a blind man.

Jurors declined to speak with reporters and were escorted from the courthouse by security officers. Jurors told lawyers in the case that a majority was leaning toward death sentences for both killings, deputy prosecutor Michael Downes said.

Ten of the 12 jurors were leaning toward death for Finch in connection with Modlin’s murder while the split was 9-3 for death for Kinard’s killing, Downes said.

The jury had to be unanimous for a death sentence to be imposed.

The split verdict means Finch faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without possibility of release.

But what the punishment means for Finch was not immediately clear.

Finch was paralyzed and has remained unconscious since an Oct. 25 suicide attempt at the county jail in Everett. He was injured when he jumped headfirst from a second-floor balcony at the jail.

Finch was convicted of murdering Kinard and Modlin and sentenced to die in 1995. But the state Supreme Court tossed out the sentence in 1999 because jurors had seen him in handcuffs and a nylon hobble. The underlying convictions were not affected.

The sole question in Finch’s new trial is whether he should receive a death sentence or life in prison without possibility of release.

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