Editorial: Schierman case true litmus test
May 13, 2010 · 1:52 PM
The justice system proved to the Kirkland community and those who kept up with the Conner Schierman quadruple murder case that the system is not flawed.
The jury recently handed Schierman a death penalty sentence for killing a mother, her sister and two young sons in Kirkland nearly four years ago. But many questioned whether a death penalty was guaranteed, citing the case of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, who was spared from the death penalty in 2003.
Scheirman’s own defense attorneys tried to use Ridway’s case as the basis for their argument against the death penalty.
The big question came down to this: Will Schierman’s life also be spared, since his was a lesser crime? He murdered four people; Ridgway pleaded guilty to killing more than 48.
We believe the Green River Killer case was not a litmus test for all other capital punishment cases in Washington.
Yes, Schierman’s case was the first time prosecutors sought the death penalty since Ridgway, but that was the only correlation other than that they were both murder cases.
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng agreed to a plea deal that spared Ridgway’s life, in exchange for his cooperation finding more remains of his victims. Without the deal, Ridgway wouldn’t have provided detectives details that helped solve dozens of open murder cases that he was responsible for.
Without the plea, many families would be left without answers to what happened to their loved ones.
There was no special circumstance in Schierman’s case. He murdered four people.
We hope this case will serve as a true litmus test as state prosecutors ponder whether to pursue the death penalty against other killers in the future.
We hope the Schierman case will cause more prosecutors to toughen their decisions, so that ultimately potential offenders may think twice before they snuff someone else’s life.