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The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer
by Robert Keppel
July 15, 1982: 3 woman's strangled body was filed, caught on the pilings of Washington state's Green River. Before long, the "Green River Killer" would be suspected in at least 49 homicides, with no end in sight. Then authorities received a letter from Bundy -- on death row -- offering to help catch the Green River Killer. But he would only talk to Robert Keppel, the former homicide detective who helped track Bundy's cross-county killing spree.


Gary Ridgway waived his right to appear at his initial hearing. Defense Attorney Mark Prothero, appeared on Ridgway's behalf. The judge refused to allow bail in this case. Ridgway will stay in jail awaiting his trial which could take up to 2 years.

The initial defense attorneys, Prothero and Gruenhagen were concerned about the time after the arrest, but did not know to what extent investigators questioned Ridgway in the 90 minutes before he requested a lawyer. He was arrested at 3 p.m. and did not request an attorney until 4:30 p.m. A lawyer arrived to see him at 6 p.m.

We dont believe that we can get a fair trial under the publicity that has been generated in this recent course of events, in this county that has lived with this story for a couple of decades, says Prothero. News coverage left "the deck stacked against him," Prothero said. "All of this publicity has been very negative," he said, "and will make it impossible for this gentleman to get a fair trial."

The defense is saying King County Sheriff Dept. has crossed way over the line with unprecedented statements to the media, convicting Ridgway before his side of the story is heard. KING 5 News found over last 6 days, the major local newspapers have written published 140 articles on the case. Local television stations broadcast about 200 stories on the topic.

Imagine your husband or your brother or your father in the same situation and try to hold back on judgment at this point and not rush to the conclusion that law enforcement wants everyone to rush to right now, says defense attorney Mark Prothero. Claiming press coverage has grossly tainted the jury pool.

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng disagreed. He says high profile cases from the 80s, such as the Wah Mee massacre and Goldmark family murders were tried fairly. In each one of these cases, we were able to impanel what both the prosecution and I believe the defense believe was an impartial jury.

They say it's important that Ridgway passed 2 polygraph tests in the 80's. One was administered in 1984, after Ridgway approached Green River investigators offering to help.

"We're going to question every detail of the case, we're going to scrutinize it, including the DNA," said Mike Prothero. The defense says STR testing is not ironclad. To imply that STR testing is 100 percent accurate, 100 percent of the time is wrong, says Prothero. They will be looking at all evidence collected in the 1980s, to see if detectives collected things properly, or if evidence was contaminated. There is a great chance of human error, even with DNA. It is not infallible. We will not be conceding anything because of the purported DNA evidence, says Prothero.

They will raise questions about the way DNA material was stored for 20 years and if it was contaminated. DNA properly preserved is an excellent investigative tool, but it is subject to contamination.

Prothero defended James William Cushing, convicted in the 1990 ax slaying of a 63-year-old Queen Anne woman. He also was part of the defense team that won new trials for 16 people in the Wenatchee child sex-abuse cases.

Prothero a native of the area has an office 3 blocks from where the first Green River bodies were found.

Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011


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