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Killer’s sentencing rescheduled

Island County prosecutors are working hard to keep a convicted child killer in prison.

Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks said prosecutors filed a motion asking Judge Vickie Churchill to reconsider her decision this week to hand 45-year-old former Oak Harbor resident James Alexander a directed verdict of first-degree manslaughter.

The prosecution had charged Alexander with a more serious offense, homicide by abuse, but Churchill essentially vacated that charge by finding him guilty of manslaughter.

The sentencing hearing has been re-scheduled for April 7, at which time the prosecution will re-argue its case.

“We will continue to do everything in our power to hold Mr. Alexander accountable for the savage murder of his 21-month old son,” Banks said in a written statement. “The Supreme Court may have thought they could simply sweep away hundreds of convictions of the most violent murders with the stroke of a pen, but I will continue fighting the Andress Abomination until I have exhausted all legal options. Hopefully, justice will eventually prevail in these horrible cases.”

Alexander was convicted in 1991 of the second-degree “felony” murder of his 21-month-old son by beating and kicking him. The court was forced to vacate the conviction earlier this year because of a controversial Supreme Court decision, called Andress, which stated that felony murder was

unconstitutional when assault is the underlying offense.

Alexander was originally scheduled to be sentenced Friday, when he would likely have gone free. His attorney, Craig Platt of Coupeville, pointed out that 10 years is the maximum term for the manslaughter charge.

Alexander has already served 14 years of his 25-year sentence. Judge Alan Hancock handed him the exceptional sentence back in 1991.

Tuesday, Churchill reluctantly imposed the directed manslaughter verdict after hearing lengthy argument. She said she had no choice under the mandatory joinder rule, which prevents a person from being charged with more than one charge for one offense.

Banks, however, disagrees. “I believe her decision is contrary to post-Andress case law,” he said, “and is also in violation of the federal and state constitutions.”

In addition to Alexander, prosecutors have one more murder case coming back to them under the Andress ruling. Jerry Lee Farrow was convicted of second-degree felony murder with a deadly weapon for shooting his girlfriend, Oak Harbor resident Faith Ellison, in the head in 2001. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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