By Kera Wanielista / Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON — A man serving life in prison without parole for the 2002 stabbing death of an 18-year-old baby sitter in Mount Vernon sought Wednesday to withdraw his guilty plea.
In October 2002, Joseph Dale Kennedy, now 61, pleaded guilty to aggravated first-degree murder for the death of Ingrid Jernigan, who had been baby-sitting the child of Kennedy’s ex-girlfriend the night of her death.
Her body was found Sept. 22 with about 100 stab and laceration wounds in a bedroom in a home on Streeter Place.
Kennedy’s plea came after Skagit County prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty — and less than a month after Jernigan’s death.
Kennedy was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
This January, Kennedy filed a motion in Skagit County Superior Court to hold an evidentiary hearing that would allow him to begin the process of withdrawing his plea based on what he calls new evidence.
Kennedy’s claim revolves around blood samples taken from him at the time of his arrest. He said he did not know those samples were available as evidence.
However, Skagit County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula said whether or not Kennedy was aware of the blood samples, that information was known to his lawyer at the time of his plea.
She said in order for a plea to be withdrawn based on new evidence, that new evidence must be presented within a year of the plea unless a judge rules there is a compelling reason to allow it later.
Judge Laura Riquelme ruled Wednesday that Kennedy had not presented enough evidence for her to override the one-year rule.
“All of the evidence is evidence that was received by the defense 16 years ago,” she said.
Kennedy’s motion will now go to the state Court of Appeals, which will determine whether or not an exception to the rule should be granted.