Mill Creek man may face 18-year prison sentence

  • Jim Haley<br>For the Enterprise
  • Thursday, February 21, 2008 12:08pm

A Mill Creek man could be sentenced to more than 18 years in prison after a judge found him guilty Oct. 31 of second-degree murder. He was convicted in the September 2001 strangulation death of his girlfriend’s younger sister.

Robert Dale Woods, 22, was found guilty of killing Jolene Desrosier, a 17-year-old who was attending Lake Stevens High School while working full time at a south Everett restaurant.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Larry McKeeman made the ruling based solely on police reports in a “stipulated trial.” The proceeding allowed Woods to appeal a pretrial ruling by McKeeman that Wood’s statements to police could be used as evidence against him. If he had pleaded guilty, he could not have appealed.

He originally was charged with first-degree murder, but deputy prosecutor Mark Roe said there was no assurance he could convince a jury that the killing was premeditated.

“Our case was strong that he killed her. Not as strong that it was premeditated,” Roe said.

Woods is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 18. Roe said he will ask the judge for the high end of the sentencing range, 18 1/2 years.

Roe amended the charge to second-degree murder in exchange for Woods following through with the stipulated trial. With available evidence, Roe said it is conceivable that a jury would have come up with a second-degree murder verdict anyway.

The victim’s family agreed to the arrangement, Roe said.

Desrosier was found bound with duct tape and strangled with a telephone cord.

Woods admitted to police he had tied her up as a “joke,” but didn’t know how the telephone cord got around her neck, court documents say.

Woods had been sleeping at Desrosier’s apartment as a favor to her sister because his workplace was within walking distance. He had no driver’s license, documents say.

At first, Woods told police he had no romantic involvement with Desrosier, and then said they had engaged in consensual sex. Her friends told police it was unlikely she would do that, documents say.

“This was an amazing 17-year-old girl,” Roe said. She clipped coupons, created a budget, survived on low wages and saved $1,500, the prosecutor said.

She also was taking some advanced University of Washington classes while finishing her senior year at Lake Stevens High School, he added.

“She was really organized,” Roe said. “The fact that she was killed while doing a favor for her sister is a damn shame.”

Jim Haley writes for the Herald in Everett.

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