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Wash. Supreme Court To Hear Lakewood Police Killings Challenge

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
FILE - Letricia Nelson, left, appears in Pierce County Superior Court, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, in Tacoma, Washington.

Nearly five years have passed since Maurice Clemmons gunned down four Lakewood police officers in a coffee shop. Clemmons’ aunt and cousin were convicted of helping him after the murders.

Now, their case is before the Washington Supreme Court on appeal. Oral arguments are scheduled for Thursday.

Eddie Davis and Letrecia Nelson were convicted of rendering criminal assistance and for briefly possessing the service weapon of one of the slain officers. Both received enhanced sentences that meant years instead of months in prison.

Now they’re appealing the gun possession conviction and the aggravating circumstance that allowed the judge to impose a stiffer sentence. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist says this was a rare case that had a “destructive impact” on the community and justified tougher penalties.

“These are people that helped out a cop-killer who just murdered four police officers, was still on the loose and was threatening to kill more people. This was a case that cried out for an exceptional sentence,” Lindquist said.

Attorneys for Davis and Nelson argue in court filings that the state failed to prove the pair actually had possession of the stolen gun. They also argue the exceptional sentence was unlawfully applied.

A total of five people were convicted of helping Clemmons who was shot to death by a Seattle police officer following a massive manhunt.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.