Stabbing suspect gets 13 years in plea deal
SNOHOMISH - The 15-year-old girl accused of stabbing two students at Snohomish High School in October pleaded guilty in juvenile court last week and will serve 13 years in jail.
The girl will serve the first five years in juvenile jail where she can receive rehabilitative treatment for her mental and emotional problems. The remainder of her sentence is expected to be carried out in adult prison.
The girl’s lawyers reached the plea agreement Wednesday, March 7 on the same day a hearing was scheduled to happen to decide whether she should be tried as an adult.
The girl isn’t being named because she is a juvenile.
The Oct. 24 stabbing nearly killed freshman April Lutz and injured her friend Bekah Staudacher, also a freshman.
Both girls’ families released statements following the announcement of the plea agreement.
This is the statement from Randy and Sue Lutz:
“Today is a very difficult day for us. We have so many intense emotions about this situation and how deeply it has affected our daughter and our family. With that said, we feel that this agreement is a fair compromise. It allows this very troubled young girl to get the help she has clearly needed for some time while she is still a juvenile, but it also holds her accountable for her horrific actions.
“Our focus now is solely on April and making sure she fully recovers physically and emotionally from everything that happened. We would also like to extend our thanks to the communities of Monroe and Snohomish for their continued support, which has been nothing short of remarkable. We are looking forward to putting all of this behind us for good and moving on with our lives.”
This is the statement from Mark and Christa Staudacher:
“This is a tough situation for any parent to go through, knowing how bad it was and how much worse it could have been. We are relieved to have some closure and to see the justice system act firmly and fairly under the circumstances. We are most thankful for our daughter’s well-being and that she and April are both still around to help one another return to their normal lives as much as possible. We would also like to thank the community for showing their steadfast support for our daughter and our family during this difficult time.”
The sophomore suspect was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault, but the plea deal reduced the charges to first-degree assault and second-degree assault.
The girl’s lawyers were prepared to argue that she did not qualify for adult court partly because the attack was not premeditated.
Although the girl did pack an eight-inch butcher knife and another handmade weapon in her backpack to bring to school that day, she said after the attack that she had wondered if she would follow through with it. She also said her victims were chosen at random.
The girl said she had taken a large amount of antidepressant drugs that morning, double the top dosage typically given to the average adult, court papers filed by her lawyers say.
After the attack, the girl said she felt “like out of it” and just “waited till someone told me what to do” after stabbing Lutz roughly more than 20 times and cutting Staudacher on her arm and back.
Lutz underwent six hours of surgery at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to repair knife wounds that punctured her heart and lung.
Friends and family of the suspect said she used to be caring and sensitive and had gone through a significant transformation in the past 18 months, becoming withdrawn and quiet.
Her lawyers also submitted a memorandum explaining several traumatic experiences in the girl’s life.
In 2006, her great grandparents were killed during a home invasion.
More recently, she endured the departure of her father, who had just reappeared in her life for the first time since she was 4 years old, and the loss of a friend who switched schools and told her they couldn’t be friends anymore.
The girl had no prior criminal record, but she had previously been suspended from school for threatening to kill a friend’s boyfriend.
She was allowed to return to school about 11 days later, after completing eight days of treatment at Fairfax hospital in Kirkland and being deemed “safe to return to school and home,” and was “no longer actively suicidal or homicidal.”
Her lawyers believe the girl is capable of pulling out of this disturbed state of mind.
The girl’s lawyers submitted to the court a stack of letters from the girl’s family and friends that describe her character.
The letters describe a girl with a “very tender heart” who was a protective big sister to her younger brother, age 10, and a good student.
“Any of us who have known (name withheld), know something went tragically wrong with her for her to be able to hurt anyone,” the girl’s mother wrote.
Her mother could not give a reason for the girl’s violent act.
“This is a girl who had always made positive contributions,” she wrote. “She had a tragic change in her mental status causing her to do something horrifying.”
By STEPHANIE KOSONEN
Published March 14, 2012