One of Seattle's
most prominent lawyers, Tony Savage,
is representing Gary Ridgway's defense
at the familys request.
for defending Ridgway will be $950,000 a year in public funds, according
to Jim Crane, administrator for the King County Office of Public
18, 2001 -- The arraignment:
were on hand for the hearing. Security was so tight one of Ridgway's
attorneys, Mark Prothero, wasn't allowed in the courtroom once the
a "not guilty" plea on his clients behalf at the arraignment
on 12-18-01, charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the
deaths of Marcia Chapman, Cynthia
Hinds, Opal Mills and Carol
Prothero will be focusing
on the DNA evidence prosecutors say link Ridgway to Chapman, Mills
and Christensen. "We have to go back 20 years," Prothero said of
the evidence, "and look at every hand it's been through. "Maybe
it was all done correctly," he added, "but maybe a mistake was made."
was ordered to appear in court again Jan. 2, 2002 when King County
prosecutors will decide to seek the death penalty.
Ridgway's defense team was granted nearly $300,000 by a judge for
independent DNA testing and analysis. Besides independent DNA testing
it will pay for a defense forensic pathologist and a computer specialist
to help lawyers navigate the thousands of computerized documents
they will be given.
member of Ridgway's 4 lawyer defense team, said he would take a
close look at the way the DNA was preserved and analyzed. "This
evidence was collected a long time ago ... maybe there were some
mistakes along the way," Prothero said. "I'm hoping that there is
sufficient quantity to retest."
said that even though Ridgway is only charged in four cases in the
Green River killings, prosecutors will make the deaths of all 49
women an issue at trial. "It's apparent from their public posture
we're going to be trying 49 cases they're going to try to link him
to," he said.
12-12-01, Savage requested
the county pay for an additional 4 defense attorneys because the
case is so large. Jim
Crane, administrator for the King County Office of Public Defense,
said his department is considering the request but will have to
involve county finance officials and the court in any decision.
The latest costs boost the public expense
for defending Ridgway to a record $950,000 a year before the case
goes to trial, said Crane.
Ridgway signed over all
he owns to contribute toward the defense, Savage said.
Savage cut his fees from
his standard $200 an hour to $75 an hour, the same rate as if he
were appointed by the court.
"The fellow was a truck
painter for 30 years, so what kind of an estate can you amass?"
Savage said. Even though Ridgway has assets he could qualify for
public defense or public financing for private attorneys.
Tim Ford, a well-known
specialist in death-penalty litigation, estimated defending a client
against so many charges could require between 2,000 and 5,000 hours
of attorney time. Never before in American courts has one person
faced the possibility of so many murder counts for separate crimes.
How will how the defense handle the charges against him?
Savage put it, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
he's guilty. We say prove it and we don't think they can," Savage
said. "He's looking forward, eventually, to his day in court."
gonna get this fellow a fair trial," he said. "If it isn't doable
in two (years), we'll do it in five."
he intends to "reinvestigate" the case, which he said
would require him to track down witnesses to events almost 20 years
to be a long process. We are going to defend. We are not going to
roll over and play dead. We are going to have our day in court and
we are going to get a fair trial."
defense attorney who receives an aggravated murder case begins their
work with the presumption that prosecutors will seek the dteam.
eath penalty, even if it's just one body," said Mark Prothero, a
public defender on Ridgway's defense.
of paper work is
All of the tips called
in to police over the past two decades, all the follow-up investigative
reports, forensic reports, DNA test reports, surveillance of suspects
and crime scenes, out of area checks on suspects, victim information,
missing-persons reports, crime-analysis studies and psychological
profiles of suspects, etc. need to be collated, copied and delivered
to the defense.
Even if prosecutors do
not charge Ridgway with more than the four current victims, defense
will have to analyze all 45 of the others, if not more. Potentially
exculpatory evidence in the 45 could cast doubt on the four Ridgway
is charged with.
Any accidental omission
of any information, relevant or not, could be grounds for appeal.
withheld was relevant the defense, a new trial could be granted.
Once turned over to defense,
they will have to investigate each piece of material for itself,
a process that could take months, said Professor John Junker of
the University of Washington Law School.
Ridgway will require
a huge commitment of time from his lawyers.
"It's not just the
number of victims and number of events," Tim Ford, a well-known
specialist in death-penalty cases, said, "but the amount of
police work that needs to be reviewed ... 20 years of police work.
It doesn't matter if they charge four or 49. In that case (only
charged with 4), you'd have to look at them all even harder, because
that's the whole question. If he's not guilty of those, what about
"You'd want to get
all the discovery you can from the prosecution," Junker said,
"find out everything they know, or think they know, and that
might be a daunting amount of material."
So many charges is overwhelming
because jurors might vote guilty believing with so many charges,
some must be true.
In preparation of and
during trial these are typical
approaches used by defense similar cases, historically and sometimes
to suppress evidence based upon possible faulty searches or improper
credibility of witnesses, some no longer be available for a number
evidence, including the STR DNA testing. Savage will attack DNA
evidence. Savage said "DNA is not the word of God."
police have targeted the wrong man.
Contend someone else
is the real Green River killer.
In the last chance department
there is the defense based on mental disease or defect to present
mitigating evidence to a jury. This
would most likely require Ridgway's family, friends and coworkers
to testify to establish his emotional and psychological conditions
contributing to his actions.
Plea negotiation. Ridgway
would agree to plead guilty to his murders and help locate the seven
missing Green River victims in exchange for a lesser sentence (like
life in prison). Both Savage and King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng
have adamantly stated there would be no plea negotiation.
However, if Ridgway offered
to help locate the missing, Maleng would be under pressure from
victims and their advocates to take the plea. Already several victim's
families have stated this is what they want.
though. If the prosecutor's office previously has sought the death
penalty for those accused in fewer murders it would be difficult
to justify for a man believed to be guilty of nearly 50 murders.
Chief deputy prosecutor,
Dan Satterberg, noted this rewards someone for committing more murders.
Likewise, if it's the
only way for Ridgway to avoid the death penalty maybe he and his
attorney should be more open to the concept as well.
( Robert Yates in Spokane, pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty
in exchange for giving details of his other killings. )
Norm Maleng, King County Prosecutor immediately agree on 2 major
issues, in addition to no plea bargaining there will be no change
to Savage "there's no better place in the state to try a murder
case than Seattle. Omak and Coupeville are wonderful places, but
not for a murder case."
first priority is to persuade Maleng not to seek the death penalty.
If the prosecutor goes
for the death penalty, Savage will prepare a mitigation package
arguing against it, but would be surprised if Maleng changed his
Office of Public Defense had not determined if Ridgway is eligible
for public funds towards counsel costs.
was arrested Nov. 30, 2001, he was represented by public defender
Mark Prothero, as is customary in first court appearances.
relatives were referred to Savage.
about Defense Counsel - Tony
Savage, 71, has been a member of the Washington State Bar Association
since 1955. He served as a King County deputy prosecutor from 1956
to 1962 and has been a lawyer for 45 years.
PO Box 6166
Olympia, WA 98507
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006