Judge grants delay in King murder trial

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

The trial of a Mountlake Terrace man accused of murdering his mail-order bride will start in Snohomish County Superior Court next week despite a plea for a delay by the prosecution.

But a judge’s order Thursday will give the state a few more days to prepare for the trial of Indle King Jr., a case that’s had some unexpected recent developments.

King’s murder trial will officially begin today when more than 100 prospective jurors file into the Ginni Stevens Hearing Room in the county administration building to be sworn in, receive orientation and fill out a lengthy questionnaire to help lawyers pick the jury.

But the court won’t start calling jurors in for interviews by lawyers until next Thursday, Judge George Bowden ruled.

That will give state lawyers and Mountlake Terrace police officers time to continue investigating a celebrated case that has taken more twists and turns than an Olympic bobsled course, including a list of questionable witnesses.

Among the changes:

  • A new charge of criminal solicitation was filed against King last week for allegedly trying to hire another jail inmate to silence a witness against him. That charge will be tried separately, Bowden ruled Thursday.

  • Many of the witnesses in the case have long prison records, including the man King allegedly tried to hire for murder.

  • The 40-year-old defendant previously was charged with witness tampering for allegedly trying to get another key witness to change his testimony.

  • A second defendant in the case, Daniel K. Larson, 21, has already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Anastasia King, 20, in September 2000. He told prosecutors that King recruited him to help kill his wife, and he led investigators to a shallow grave where her body was found three months after she disappeared.

  • Larson’s credibility took a nose dive in late December when defense attorneys revealed a jailhouse letter from Larson claiming he had acted alone in killing Anastasia King.

  • That letter was sent to convicted murderer Christopher Turgeon, 38, the former leader of a violent sect called the Gatekeepers. Turgeon may be called as a witness in King’s case, but chief deputy prosecutor Jim Townsend said Thursday he has no idea what the sect leader or Larson might say as witnesses.

    Anastasia King disappeared after returning from a visit to her parents’ home in Kyrgyzstan in the former Soviet Union. Police in Mountlake Terrace conducted an extensive search for her. Her body was found near Marysville.

    On Thursday, Townsend told the judge that recent developments, including the letter to Turgeon, set back the state’s case. He sought a two-week delay in the trial. Among other things, he wanted to hire a handwriting expert to verify that Larson actually wrote the letter, and interview possible defense witnesses.

    "We’re trying to put Band-Aids on situations with witnesses," Townsend said.

    David Allen, one of King’s defense lawyers, said he and King are ready to go to trial. He noted that his client has been jailed for more than a year and is anxious to proceed.

    Bowden agreed to a small compromise. He’ll recess the jury selection for three days to give prosecutors and police officers time to complete their preparations.

    In another move, the judge agreed to put King in solitary confinement for a few days to keep him away from other inmates after Townsend complained that King has attempted to manipulate the system.

    The trial is expected to continue well into February.

    You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447 or send e-mail to haley@heraldnet.com.

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