Man accused of gruesome 2014 Seattle murder will stand trial for third time after murder conviction thrown out on appeal
In May 2014, Seattle police found the body of Daryl Ford, 49, wrapped in a blanket inside a shopping cart in South Seattle. An autopsy showed Ford had been stabbed 87 times.
After a mistrial, the man accused of Ford’s murder was convicted of his murder in 2019. But in November, the state Court of Appeals overturned Michael Thompson’s conviction, and now county prosecutors of King intend to try him a third time for second degree murder.
After serving more than two years of a 31-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Thompson was re-charged on Monday and returned to King County Jail on Tuesday, according to jail and court records. He had previously spent more than five years in prison, from his arrest in May 2014 until his prison sentence in October 2019.
Appeals judges threw out Thompson’s 2019 conviction after consecutive Superior Court trial judges did not allow him to raise an insanity defense because Thompson claimed he was intoxicated by alcohol and crack and passed out the night Ford was killed.
“This is a brutal crime and we remain confident in our ability to prove the case at trial,” Casey McNerthney, spokesman for prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said Thursday. He declined to discuss details of the case as it is ongoing.
Thompson, who court records show has an intellectual disability and a long history of post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression with psychotic features, claimed he acted in self-defense after Ford allegedly tried to sexually assault her.
Two experts, a psychiatrist and a psychologist who testified in Thompson’s previous trials, agreed that Thompson was insane and would have reacted to an attempted sexual assault the same way even if he hadn’t been intoxicated. . But they also felt that his intoxication may have played a role in increasing his paranoia at the time, according to court records.
Insanity is a legal conclusion that the mind of an accused is so altered by disease or mental defect that he is unable to perceive the nature or quality of the act with which he is charged, or is unable to distinguish right from wrong as it relates to this act. Someone who is mad cannot be held criminally guilty.
Willful intoxication, in and of itself, is not a criminal defence.
For many decades, courts in Washington have ruled that a condition resulting from the voluntary use of drugs or alcohol is not evidence of insanity, according to the Nov. 8 Court of Appeals opinion written by Judge Stephen Dwyer.
“But no court in Washington has held that a defendant cannot lead evidence of insanity – caused by involuntary mental illness – simply because there is also evidence that the willful use of drugs or alcohol has had an impact on the mental state of the accused,” the opinion read. “If proof is adduced that an accused was affected by an involuntary mental state which caused the insanity and was also affected by the voluntary consumption of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offence, the proof of the insanity must be presented to the jury, and the jury must be instructed to consider whether the impact of the involuntary state alone would have driven the defendant insane.
By excluding Thompson from presenting evidence in support of an insanity defense, the trial court erred and based its pretrial ruling on a misunderstanding of state law — that which resulted in an abuse of power, according to the opinion.
The arrest and the first 2 trials
At around 10:30 a.m. on May 22, 2014, a woman saw a man with a shopping cart full of bedding in her front yard on South Austin Street. She asked him what he was doing and he said he was getting rid of laundry. After she told him he couldn’t use his trash can, he took jeans and other clothes out of the trash and put them back in the hamper.
As he pulled the cart out of his yard, the woman noticed what she suspected was a body wrapped in bedding in the cart. She saw the man push the cart down the street and into the stairwell of another residence before walking away.
Police were called and found Ford’s body, wrapped in a blanket and tied with an electrical cord, inside the shopping cart.
Fingerprints found on the shopping cart and other evidence found in a backpack piled on top of Ford’s body quickly led police to identify Thompson as a suspect, according to the charging documents.
At the time, Thompson was residing at Seattle Mental Health’s Kenyon House, which provides mental health and behavioral support to residents, a few blocks from where Ford’s body was found. Police obtained CCTV footage from the home showing Thompson and Ford entering Thompson’s bedroom together on the night of May 21, 2014. Although Thompson was seen in footage the following morning pushing an empty shopping cart into his bedroom and a full shopping cart by the back door, Ford was no longer seen on video.
The day after Ford’s body was found, police arrested Thompson at his wife’s house.
Thompson was charged with second degree murder on May 30, 2014.
In January 2016, Thompson was sent to Western State Hospital for a skills assessment. Doctors determined that he had the capacity at that time to understand the charges against him and that he could consult his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, according to court records.
Looking ahead to his first trial, which began in August 2017, Thompson’s defense attorney indicated that Thompson would pursue the defenses of insanity and impaired capacity, as well as self-defense and willful intoxication. (A defense of impaired capacity requires expert testimony demonstrating that a mental disorder, not amounting to insanity, impaired an accused’s ability to form the culpable mental state to commit the crime with which he is charged State law does not prohibit an accused from pursuing both insanity and impaired capacity defenses.)
All four are affirmative defenses, which means that the onus is on the defendant to prove such a defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
But on pretrial motions, Judge Mary Roberts ruled the defense was barred from pursuing an insanity defense, but granted affirmative defenses of impaired capacity, self-defense and willful intoxication, records show. judicial.
After 14 days of trial, Roberts declared a mistrial after determining that Thompson was asked inappropriate questions during cross-examination by former senior assistant prosecutor Julie Kline about his decision to invoke his right to counsel and to remain silent. Specifically, she asked him why he hadn’t told police that Ford had tried to sexually assault her or that Ford had been armed with a knife, according to court records.
Prior to the start of Thompson’s second trial in late January 2019, Judge Patrick Oishi adopted Roberts’ earlier preliminary rulings, including the ruling that excluded Thompson from pursuing an insanity defense.
The jury found Thompson guilty on February 25, 2019.
After the state Court of Appeals overturned Thompson’s conviction in November, the three-judge panel returned the case to King County last month for retrial.
Thompson, who remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bond, is due for arraignment Jan. 24. Court records do not yet indicate which defense attorney is representing him.