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Prosecutor yet to decide on death penalty in Yates case

"A woman who police believe narrowly escaped an attack by accused serial killer Robert Lee Yates, Jr. filed a civil lawsuit against him July 28 in Spokane County Superior Court.Yates, a 47-year-old Spokane resident, graduated from Oak Harbor High School in 1970 and is remembered locally as a star pitcher and a nice, quiet boy.Investigators in Spokane, however, believe he is a serial killer responsible for the murders of up to 18 women since 1990. He has been charged with eight counts of murder in Spokane County. On July 17, Tacoma prosecutors charged him with two more counts of first-degree murder.Yates was also charged with attempted murder in the case involving the woman who is now suing him for assault and battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, negligent infliction of emotional distress and outrage, according to the complaint.Detectives believe that the woman, 32-year-old Christine Smith, was picked up by Yates in the Spokane area for sex in 1998. While she was in the back of the van with him, he allegedly shot her in the head with a .22 handgun.Smith was stunned but managed to escape. She was treated at a hospital for the head injury but did not realize she had been shot. It wasn't until a car accident last March that a doctor told her she had bullet fragments in her head. After Yates was arrested in April she recognized him from news reports as the man who assaulted her and went to police.The Washington State Patrol crime lab is analyzing the bullet fragments. In the criminal case, Yates is scheduled for trial next May. The prosecution is waiting for DNA tests before possibly charging Yates with two more murders. Spokane Prosecutor Steve Tucker has yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case and is not expected to make a decision for at least another month.According to a recent Spokane-Review story, Yates' paternal grandmother killed her husband with an ax 55 years ago in Tennessee. She apparently spent time in a mental institution after the murder."

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