The prosecutor's office that spared the infamous Green River serial killer said Tuesday it would seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing the family of a soldier serving in Iraq.
The decision prompted the judge to revoke the $10 million bail set for Conner Michael Schierman, who pleaded not guilty last year to murder and arson in the deaths of National Guard Sgt. Leonid Milkin's wife, two sons and sister-in-law.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott O'Toole said he could not comment on the factors in the decision to seek the death penalty. Prosecutor Norm Maleng was out of town and not immediately available for comment.
"At the end of the day, he decided this was a decision that should be placed in front of the jury," O'Toole said.
It is the first time Maleng has sought the death penalty since he agreed to a plea deal in 2003 that spared the life of the Green River serial killer, Gary Ridgway, in exchange for help finding more remains of his victims.
Schierman's lawyer, Jim Conroy, told King County Superior Court Judge Gregory Canova that he intends to object to the constitutionality of the death penalty in Washington state.
"You can't cut a deal with the most prolific serial killer in this country and seek the death penalty against other people," Conroy said after the hearing. "You just can't do that. It's fundamentally wrong."
Authorities said Schierman knifed the four to death July 17 and then burned the home to conceal the crime.
Soldier in Iraq at time of murders
At the time, Milkin was stationed in Baghdad. On Tuesday, Milkin said the decision was appropriate, but declined to say whether he explicitly asked Maleng to seek the death penalty.
"I asked him to consider the facts, which he did. I am very pleased with that decision," Milkin said.
In November 2003, Ridgway admitted he was the Green River Killer and pleaded guilty to murdering 48 women, most of them between 1982 and 1984. In exchange for a life sentence without parole, he pleaded guilty to more murders than any other serial killer in U.S. history. Maleng said at that time that he finally agreed to a plea bargain to bring a resolution to dozens of unsolved cases.