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Former soldier sentenced to 20 years in Paxton, Kirkland stabbing | Update
A former Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was sentenced to 244 months on April 25 for fatally stabbing a Kirkland woman back in 2011.
Earlier this month, Dakota Miles Wolf, 22, pleaded guilty to killing 19-year-old Scarlett Paxton with a large chef knife outside of her Juanita apartment one winter evening.
A King County judge imposed the maximum sentencing, 220 months, for second-degree murder and an extra two years were tacked on for a deadly weapons enhancement charge.
Before Wolf was sentenced, Paxton’s mother, father and grandmother gave statements.
“I miss my daughter Scarlett so much,” said Michelle Diggins, her mother, in a letter to the Reporter. “I wish that no other family or person would ever have to feel this grief, pain and utter devastation that we now deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there will always be bad people in this world.”
Paxton’s boyfriend who found her stabbed in front of their apartment also attended the hearing.
“I thought that what her family said [during the hearing] was absolutely beautiful and that they did a very good job of articulating who Scarlett was as a person,” Michael Lawson said.
Judge Julie Spector addressed Wolf before giving him the maximum sentence.
“I’m aware that you tried desperately to get help for your addiction from your commanding officer and that was denied,” Spector said. “I’m aware of that. You have no criminal history, yet, you are a ticking time bomb that blew up in this Kirkland community and took Scarlett from everybody.”
Even Wolf’s friends and family requested the judge show no leniency in several submitted letters, she said.
“There are two groups here and yet we are all part of a greater community, raveling and reconciling the loss of a beautiful and wonderful person known as Scarlett,” Spector said, “as a daughter, a niece, grandniece, a granddaughter, a friend and a beloved member of our community.”
Although Lawson isn’t completely satisfied with the 20-year sentence, he does admit “it’s good to have this chapter closed.”
“While it’s not going to be over, of course, I will admit it’s a huge relief he was sentenced, whether I like the results or not,” he said.
On Nov. 30, Scarlett Paxton went for a walk with her boyfriend at around 1:30 a.m. near their Hidden Firs apartment complex in the 12800 block of 132nd Ave. NE.
According to court records, Paxton left early to walk back home and call a friend.
But when her boyfriend returned at around 2:50 a.m., he found Paxton slumped over in front of their second-floor apartment unit.
Wolf had stabbed her neck and she had lacerations on her chin, thumb, hand and knee, all consistent with defensive knife wounds.
After an extensive police investigation that included video evidence, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord official told Kirkland police Wolf was “AWOL,” or absent without official leave, and gave the address to the residence he was staying.
The official had spoken to the homeowner, who expressed concern that Wolf was linked to the homicide.
Wolf had sustained an injury to his leg and he had come home wearing bloody clothing.
He was soon arrested for his AWOL status. It was his third time going AWOL.
Police eventually did a positive DNA match on three blood samples taken from Paxton’s pants.
Wolf initially denied any association with the homicide or Paxton, but he admitted to police that he was in the same area where the victim died early in the night, charging documents state.
He also told police he was addicted to smoking spice and that he smoked spice on the night Paxton was murdered. Spice is synthetic cannabis that can cause hallucinations and paranoid behavior.
During the investigation, he told police he has issues with “paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety and memory issues,” as well as anger management issues.
Records indicate police believe the violent attack was unprovoked and random.
“The fact that her throat was ripped open and the blood covered the door of the apartment, there’s nothing, like, no mystery involved,” Lawson said. “Not to spread hearsay but there are stories corroborated by his friends of animal abuse, etcetera, etcetera, that he’s a born monster. Cut and clear, that’s just what he is and I have absolutely no doubt he can do it again. It’s not just an issue of substance abuse, it’s an issue of character, which he has none.”
Paxton’s mother, Diggins, thanked the Kirkland Police Department in her letter, specifically mentioning Detective David Quiggle and Detective Adam Haas on the work they did.
Lt. Mike Murray said initially the entire detective unit within the Kirkland Police Department was involved in the case on the morning Paxton was discovered.
“I’m really proud of the work our detectives, the State Patrol and the prosecutors did on this,” Murray said. “I’m real sorry for the family and their loss and I hope we can put this all behind us now.”
Even though prosecutors had the case in-hand and Wolf in jail, Murray said due diligence kept detectives working on the investigation for about two-and-a-half years.
“It’s always nice to have the case closed and we’re happy for the guilty plea,” Murray said. “As always with detectives and officers, we’d like to see the best charge -- murder one, but after conferring with the family, which the prosecutors always do, it looked like this plea deal was a good one.”
Paxton’s murder drew widespread media attention because it was one of the scarier ones, since the two didn’t personally know each other, he said.
“He picked her randomly and decided he was going to kill her and he did,” Murray said.
In the past, Paxton’s friends stated the two did know each other but Murray said most of that was hearsay.
“He may have seen her at some party in one point in time,” he said. “We were never able to link any of that stuff. It could be true but if it is, it’s a mystery to us.”
Editor Matt Phelps contributed to this report.