Man offers modified guilty plea in deaths of wife, stepdaughters

Associated Press

SEATTLE – A judge on Monday agreed to accept a modified guilty plea from a Snoqualmie man charged in the stabbing deaths of his wife and two stepdaughters.

Dayva Cross, 41, who is paralyzed from the waist down from a botched suicide attempt after the 1999 killings, last week asked King County Superior Court Judge Joan DuBuque to accept an Alford plea.

Under such a plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes a jury likely would convict him.

DuBuque granted the request and Cross entered the plea to three counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping.

Selection of a jury to determine Cross’ punishment was scheduled to begin today and was expected to take as long as a week, King County prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe said Monday.

Under Washington law, aggravated first-degree murder is punishable by death or life in prison without possibility of release. No plea agreement to reduce Cross’ potential penalty had been reached, and DuBuque earlier said, regarding the Alford plea, “The net effect of this is for Mr. Cross to bring himself one step closer to the death penalty.”

Prosecutors have suggested Cross would benefit from entering an Alford plea because jurors considering his penalty would be spared some of the graphic details of the slayings.

Cross made the Alford request after several weeks of jury selection. His trial had been scheduled to begin later this month. The judge already had rejected an insanity defense.

Cross was charged with using a butcher knife to fatally stab his wife, Anouchka, 37, and two of her daughters, Salome Holly, 18, and Amanda Baldwin, 14, in their Snoqualmie home.

He also is charged with kidnapping, accused of holding his youngest stepdaughter captive for hours. The girl, now 14, told police she ran to a neighbor’s for help after Cross dozed off.

She now lives with her best friend’s family, which has adopted her.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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