Prosecutor blames high court for Finch’s sentence

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

Snohomish County’s prosecuting attorney blamed the state Supreme Court Tuesday for a convicted double murderer dodging a death sentence.

Jim Krider told a press conference that the public’s will was thwarted when Charles Ben Finch, 51, was not sentenced to die in his second penalty trial for the August 1994 killings near Cathcart of sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Kinard, 34, and Ronald Modlin, 38, a blind man.

Finch was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of release after jurors on Monday were unable to agree whether he deserved execution. A majority supported death, however.

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 hobble. The underlying convictions were not affected.

Krider said appellate court judges opposed to the death penalty are creating a legal climate where it is almost impossible to carry out a death sentence.

The judicial system "creates the result we received yesterday and thwarts the will of the society for the punishment of criminals who commit the heinous acts like the ones that occurred in this case. I think that it is very important that society have the right to determine how to punish those who violate its rules. Time after time, we see appellate courts overturn death-penalty convictions on grounds that seem absurd, not only to the public, but to professionals involved in criminal justice."

Dr. Kenneth Kinard, the slain deputy’s father, also was displeased by the outcome in Finch’s case.

"Justice is a farce in this state," he told the press conference.

Whether Finch will serve his life sentence remains unclear. He remained critically injured Tuesday at an Everett hospital, paralyzed and unconscious after an Oct. 25 suicide attempt at the county jail.

Finch landed on his neck after leaping headfirst from a second-floor balcony. The jump came the night before the final phases of his sentencing trial.

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