are the most expensive in the criminal justice system.
A survey by former
state Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Guy found that a death
penalty trial costs an average of $388,680 and takes 11 years
to go through state and federal appeals.
The cost for defending
Ridgway will be $950,000 a year in public funds, according
to Jim Crane, administrator for the King County Office of Public
The $15 million dollars
spent since 1982, investigating 49 Green
River killer related deaths, is just the beginning of what
will be a costly case to prosecute.
Washington State Forensic
Laboratory Services Bureau officials requested $4 million from
Gov. Gary Locke, in August 2001. The
funds were, in part, to hire scientists to work the backlog of
County officials estimate
the total cost of the Ridgway case at $8 million to $12 million,
including further investigation and prosecution. Gary
Ridgway and analyze evidence linked
to more Green River killings. King County Prosecuting Attorney
Norm Maleng disagrees.
We do not have a number
at the present time,'' Maleng told the Metropolitan King County
Council . "It won't be up in the $10 million range."
"We knew we were going
to need some help in financing this effort when we realized where
the case might lead," Dave Reichert, King County sheriff, said.
Reichert informed Sims detectives were pursuing an expensive investigation
last August .
Sgt. John Urquhart,
King County Sheriff's spokesman said much of the expense will
be overtime pay and hiring new patrol officers to replace experienced
deputies assigned to the investigation. Additionally, the county
will have the expense of paying for additional computers and perhaps
private labs to do DNA tests. "It will be a challenge for us to
find the resources to Support this," said Budget Director Steve
will focus their investigation on Ridgway's connection to the
4 women he stands accused of killing. Then they will proceed to
the evidence from other victims to see if it contains revealing
King County Sheriff
Dave Reichert vowed to spend as much as necessary to renew the
investigation. "If I have to go deficit, I will, to move through
this year and investigate this case to the fullest extent," Reichert
"What would you do?
If it was my daughter who was killed, I would expect the Sheriff's
Office to follow up that case to the nth degree to find out whoever
is responsible. We should not have to go out begging for money."
County Budget Director
Steve Call said for Reichert to overspend it would take approval
by the county executive and council for but there seems to be
strong interest in funding the investigation. "I can't think of
an example in which this executive (Ron Sims) and this council
wouldn't Support (Reichert's) effort to go after this Green River
thing," Call said.
There may not be enough
technicians to test the materials. The lab has a backlog of 600
DNA testing cases, Barry Logan, director of the state's forensic
laboratory, said. He figures there is enough evidence in the investigation
to require an additional 4 scientists; 2 in DNA analysis and 2
in "trace analysis," which involves other substances
such as hairs, fibers and soils.
"It's a very expensive
case," King County Executive Ron Sims commented as he announced
the $500,000 federal contribution to pay for DNA testing in 45
Green River cases.
Reichert could not
say how much testing would cost or what percentage would be covered
by the federal grant. Reichert asked Congressman Adam Smith for
assistance early in November.
Smith and US Democrat
Sen. Patty Murray worked together to obtain funds for the additional
DNA testing through the DNA Backlog Elimination Fund, a Department
of Justice program. Smith indicated more money could be coming.
"This is what we could get right now," Smith said. He hopes publicity
from the successful use of the DNA testing in this case will encourage
Smith, raised in the
SeaTac area, remembers the the terror in the streets surrounding
the Green River Killer in the early 80's. "I can tell you, it
had a profound impact on the neighborhood and the community at
the time," he said.
are the most expensive in the criminal-justice system. A survey
by former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Guy, last
year, revealed a death-penalty trial costs an average of $388,680
and takes 11 years to go through state and federal appeals.
King County prosecutors
estimate the case will cost their office about $250,000.
The prosecutor's office
may hire 2 additional attorneys to assist the attorneys assigned
to the case.
Prosecutors will spend
an estimated $100,000 to organize 19 years of police reports and
Bid requests have gone
to firms that handled legal documents for Microsoft's fight against
the Department of Justice and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, said
Dan Satterberg, chief of staff.
Ridgway is represented
by private attorney, Anthony Savage.
Savage cut his fees
from his usual $200 to $75 an hour, the same as if he had been
appointed by the court. Ridgway signed over all he owns to contribute
toward the defense. "The fellow was a truck painter for 30 years,
so what kind of an estate can you amass?" Savage said.
On 12-17-01, Ridgway's
defense team was granted nearly $300,000 by a judge for independent
DNA testing and analysis.
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.
lawyers say they may be investigating other possible suspects
as part of their case. It is not known if the county will pay
for investigators or legal research.
Pierce County Prosecutor
Gerry Horne said delay tactics by defense attorneys are partly
to blame for the costs of prosecuting capital-murder cases. "It's
not even a concealed tactic anymore. They want to make it as costly
as possible, especially in these tough times," he said. "They
want you to pay as high a price as you can."
David Chapman, criminal
defense lawyer, said it is the advocate's duty to question the
police investigation, especially when a life is on the line.
Tax Payers Toss in $1.50 to Prosecute Ridgway
King County taxpayers
will pay $1.4 million toward the Green River serial-killing investigation
12-10-01 - King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, Council Chairman
Pete von Reichbauer and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert briefed
the council on Green River investigation funding needs.
King County Sheriff
Dave Reichert plans to continue working with Washington's congressional
delegation and meet with state lawmakers for financial assistance.
are going to need your help," Reichert told the council.
"The sheriff's office will carry a huge burden in the coming
years," he said.
His department will
follow hundreds of new tips and will encourage more people to
call with information on any of the 49 killings.
look at whether Ridgway, charged
in four of the slayings, is connected to any of the other
45 deaths attributed to the Green
River Killer in the early 1980s.
Authorities also will
look at a number of unsolved slayings not previously linked to
the serial killings.
The county recently
received $500,000 in federal help to analyze DNA in 45 deaths
suspected to be linked to Green River Killings.
A large portion of
the Green River costs will be compiling the documents and photographs
into an electronic database.
Council Chairman Pete
von Reichbauer cautioned, "The
scales of justice must be balanced, but so must King County's
"I don't want
to get lost in budget debate, principally because at least 49
women in our community have paid for this crime with their lives,"
King County Councilman, Larry Phillips said. "Frankly, it
is the least we can do to bring these crimes to closure."
emergency funding in property taxes to pay for prosecuting Ridgway
and reopening the Green River Task Force's investigation.
This increase is accomplished
through a special levy Support ing the county's Automated Fingerprint
Information System, AFIS, the system electronically matches crime
scene fingerprints with those from suspects. This proposal would
expand the levy's use by applying AFIS revenues to police and
prosecutors for the Ridgway case. AFIS
dates back to the 1980s. In September 2000 King County voters
approved its continued operation by a large majority, but the
full amount was not spent. Council members Larry Phillips and
Julia Patterson proposed using the full amount authorized for
AFIS and applying it to the Green River cases, and the council
voted 10-2 to do that.
will raise next year's AFIS budget from $9.85 million to $11.23
million, a 14%. Initiative 747, which limits tax increases to
1% makes an exception for voter-approved taxes.
The tax increase amounts
to $1.4 million in 2002. In 2003 costs are expected to be $6 million,
$4.6 million short in a budget passed a month before Ridgway's
arrest. In 2003, prosecuting Ridgway is expected to cost an additional
$4 million. The expense would be substantially more if the trial
is moved out of King County.
Councilman Rob McKenna
said AFIS was passed by voters specifically for the fingerprint
system to quickly identify criminals. "It's one thing to
have legal wiggle room because there was some vague language,"
McKenna said. "What the voters approved and what they thought
they approved is what we have to look at. ... It may be possible,
but we have to proceed cautiously."
Previously, voters were promised their payments on the AFIS tax
would decrease each year. This would keep AFIS tax payments at
the maximum allowed by law. Raising
AFIS tax would Support the prosecutor's staff and the sheriff's
Phillips pointed out
under the ordinance it could be used for a "variety of activities
related to the identification of detained persons and the identification
of crime-scene evidence, as well as assistance in the conviction
of criminals from crime-scene evidence. ..." Lawyers advising
the County Council and Maleng's office had independently verified
AFIS money could be used for prosecuting Ridgway.
In 1993, $138,000 AFIS
tax money was used on the Green River investigation to process
500 fingerprints on debris found near victims' bodies.
Councilman Kent Pullen,
southeast King County questioned why $1.4 million could not be
taken out of King County Executive, Ron Sims' contingency budget
or, if voters should be asked to approve an increase. Sims said
the $3 million contingency fund is for true emergencies or catastrophes.
Gary Grant, a Boeing
machinist from Federal Way, said the county should dip into its
contingency fund before increasing the AFIS tax. "What
you're telling me is you want to hold on to this (contingency)
money and tax everybody else for everything you want to do,"
he said in an interview before the council action. "Where
is it going to stop?"
Sims said the $3 million
contingency fund is for true emergencies such as a building collapse.
"This is nominal,"
Sims said. "We're talking about a buck or a buck and a half
a year" for the owner of a $200,000 home.
"South King County
has been victimized and haunted for close to two decades now because
of the rampage this murderer went on in our area. It has left
a dark and eerie sense amongst the citizens of South King County,"
said Councilwoman Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac. "This minor increase
is something I think South King County would approve of."
Lead Green River detective,
Tom Jensen, pointed out that the new investigation is not only
trying to connect Ridgway to the other Green River slayings. "There's
one thing people keep leaving out," Jensen said. "What if he didn't
do them? If it turns out there's more than one killer out there,
we'd be derelict in our duty to not try to find them."
"The council continues
to say, 'Mr. Sheriff, Mr. Prosecutor, we're standing behind you
100%,' and they always say that until the bill comes," Sims
the $1.4 million increase is small compared with the county's
$2.9 billion budget. "This is the same comment at all the
big spenders and taxers say. They say it's only a few dollars
more," Pullen said. "Every $5, $10 or more really hurts.
.. It appears we've moved into an era of budgeting by theft, and
I think the voters would be very concerned about breaking faith,"
Maleng and Reichert
will have cost estimates in early January.
Maleng promised the
request would be "conservative." He said some estimates
he's seen are inflated.
By the end of January
2002, they must report how much they expect to spend on the case
through 2003 and submit annual cost reports through 2004.
Pullen then agreed
the expense-reporting requirements added accountability.
"It does illustrate
how wrong it was to cut the sheriff's budget in the first place,"
he said, referring to the recently passed 2002 budget. Councilman
Larry Gossett responded that the sheriff's office actually is
getting a 5% increase.
The council unanimously
approved that King County taxpayers will pay $1.4 million next
year towards the Green River serial-killing investigation.
Outside chambers, Maleng
said the costs for extra resources "will be reasonable."
"I think the taxpayers
insist that we go forward," with the case, he said. It is
considered the nation's largest unsolved serial murder case.