Young killer’s 2nd sentencing is postponed

By JIM HALEY

Herald Writer

David Dodge, who was a teen-ager in 1997 when he raped and bludgeoned to death a 12-year-old baby-sitter, will have wait a little longer to find how much time he will have to spend in prison.

On Monday, a second sentencing hearing for Dodge was postponed until next week because the victim’s family could not be reached.

His first sentence of just more than 62 years was overturned last year by the state Court of Appeals. His attorney wants much less time now.

The appeals panel ruled that Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ronald Castleberry was wrong in using some of the reasons he did to impose an exceptionally long sentence.

Dodge, who will be 21 next month, appeared in Castleberry’s court for a brief hearing Monday. Jim Townsend, chief criminal deputy prosecutor, asked the judge to postpone the matter.

Townsend said his office has attempted to locate the family of Ashley Jones, the young baby-sitter who was killed soon after Dodge walked away from a youth group home where he was serving time for a burglary.

"I believe they have a right to be here," Townsend told Castleberry.

Neal Friedman, Dodge’s attorney, objected. He said he was ready to continue with sentencing.

Castleberry, however, noted that Steve and Debra Jones were quite vocal during Dodge’s first sentencing in January 1998.

He "reluctantly" continued the hearing.

At stake for Dodge is decades behind bars.

Friedman, in a sentencing memorandum, said he believes Dodge’s sentence should be cut in half to 31 years. Townsend, on the other hand, wrote that the judge would be able to follow the appeals court’s directive and still give Dodge more than 61 years in prison.

The judge must follow the state sentencing guidelines but can still impose an exceptional sentence. The appeals court said the fact that a 4-year-old child for whom Ashley was baby-sitting witnessed part of the attack is grounds for an exceptional sentence.

Dodge, who was 17 at the time, had been assigned to a group home run on contract with the state by a group called Second Chance. The Larch Way Lodge near Lynnwood had been one of two group homes in Snohomish County for young criminals.

Both those group homes closed in the wake of controversy created by Dodge’s attack. He was considered an escapee when he assaulted the girl. Dodge later pleaded guilty.

Ashley Jones had been baby-sitting at a neighbor’s home in Stanwood when Dodge admitted entering the house through an unlocked back door and accosting her. He beat her with a stick and raped her unconscious body.

Besides closure of the two Snohomish County group homes, the case also resulted in state law changes requiring tighter controls on young criminals in community group homes.

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