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Wolf pleads guilty to Kirkland woman's death, victim's father not satisfied
Dakota Miles Wolf stared straight ahead wearing all red and shackled at the hands and feet on Tuesday afternoon.
He answered "yes sir" in a hushed tone over and over again, as King County Prosecutor John Castleton read his second degree murder plea aloud. Wolf was answering for the murder of former Kirkland resident Scarlett Paxton. About 15 people sat in silence during the hearing in King County Superior Court in downtown Seattle.
The 22-year-old now faces the standard sentencing range of 120-220 months in prison, plus 24 months for deadly weapons enhancement. The King County prosecutor is recommending the maximum range for the charges of 244 months.
But not everyone is happy with the plea deal.
"I don't like the fact that someone can commit a crime like this and have the opportunity to bargain," said Scarlett Paxton's father, Ernest Paxton, prior to the hearing. "This person will get 20 years, a 20-year sentence. He's pleading to second-degree murder. The death sentence would be preferable, the life sentence second."
Friends of Paxton told the Reporter in 2011 that the two knew each other but Kirkland police could never find a defined link, according to Kirkland Police Lt. Mike Murray in a statement.
"It's important for people to understand this was random and this person will be out on the streets again when he's 38," said Ernest Paxton.
Ernest Paxton said that Wolf will be younger than he currently is when released from prison.
Scarlett Paxton and Wolf were both 19 at the time of the murder.
"If you have a two-year-old daughter, your daughter will be the same age as Scarlett was when she was murdered [when Wolf is released]," said Paxton. "I chose not to attend the hearing. I've been informed of what's going to take place. I will be present at the sentencing."
The judge in the case will also have the discretion to give him up to life in prison when he is sentenced on April 25.
Ernest Paxton was overcome with emotion as he pleaded for the Kirkland community to keep Scarlett in their collective hearts.
"It's important when you have this type of nightmare occurring in your life that you do work to heal and do work to somehow accept it rather than pine over what should be or what could have been," said Ernest Paxton. "I can only say for myself that every day is a struggle and I am glad Scarlett was in my life for as long as she was in my life. "
Wolf stabbed Scarlett Paxton on Nov. 30, 2011 and her body was discovered on the steps leading to her apartment in the Juanita neighborhood. At the time of the murder, Wolf was AWOL, as an active duty member of the U.S. Army and stationed out of Joint Base Lewis/McChord. He has since been dishonorably discharged from the military.
Scarlett Paxton went for a walk with her boyfriend around 1:30 a.m. on the night of her murder near their Hidden Firs Apartment complex in the 12800 block of 132nd Ave. NE.
Charging documents say she left shortly after she became upset about her perceived intentions behind her boyfriend’s asking her to accompany him on a walk. She told him she was going back to the couple’s apartment to call a friend.
When her boyfriend returned home, he called 911 at 2:50 a.m. after he found his girlfriend slumped over in front of their second-floor apartment unit, according to court documents.
Paxton died soon after and her death was ruled a homicide by a sharp-force injury to her neck. Further examination of her injuries revealed lacerations to her chin, neck, thumb, hand and a cut above her knee, all consistent with defensive knife wounds, according to police records.
During the investigation, detectives noted blood near the ground-level units with possible blood spatter on two unit doors, according to charging documents. They also recovered a dark pea coat and a butcher knife from the scene.
Authorities also found blood on a dumpster, exterior walls and on the ground behind the Juanita Albertsons, which has since closed. In addition, investigators recovered a small table knife, Scarlett Paxton’s winter hat, and various pieces of garbage with blood.
DNA profiles obtained from samples taken behind Albertsons and a trail of blood from the alley behind the store to the initial crime scene matched her DNA, according to police documents.
A partial palm and fingerprint were noted along the north-side wall of the building where Juanita Albertsons and Rite Aid are located. The Crime Laboratory identified both prints as belonging to Wolf.
Reporter Raechel Dawson contributed to this story.