Cop killer loses yet another appeal

The state Court of Appeals rejected a cop killer’s challenge to his 1987 conviction.

The state Court of Appeals has joined an Island County Superior Court judge in rejecting a cop killer’s challenge to his 1987 conviction.

In a Sept. 23 decision, the appeals court dismissed Darrin Hutchinson’s writ of habeas corpus challenging his conviction on two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree.

This summer, Island County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Cliff also denied his petition as well as his motion for a report of proceedings.

On Nov. 14, 1987, Hutchinson, a South Whidbey resident, shot and killed Island County deputies William Heffernan and John Saxerud in the Breathalyzer room at the county jail in Coupeville following his arrest on a driving violation. Hutchinson had concealed a .32-caliber pistol.

In his writ of habeas corpus, Hutchinson acknowledged that there is sufficient evidence to prove that he killed the two deputies, but he argued that the prosecution failed to prove that he acted with premeditated intent or disprove he did not act in self defense.

The appellate court judges found that the evidence was sufficient to support the finding of premeditation.

“The prosecution’s theory at trial,” the ruling states, “was that the deputies were filling out routine paperwork when Hutchinson, seated on a bench in the corner of the breathalyzer room, shot them with a handgun that he had concealed inside the waistband of his pants. While being transported to jail, Hutchinson mused over the officer’s failure to detect his weapon.”

In addition, the court wrote that personal restraint petitions generally need to be filed without a year after a judgment and sentence are final. In this case, Hutchinson filed more than two decades after the expiration of the one-year limit.

Since 1987, Hutchinson has filed at least three personal restraint petitions in various courts, a federal petition for habeas corpus and several other appeals and related motions.

Hutchinson was initially successful with the state Court of Appeals, which vacated his convictions in 1997. The state Supreme Court, however, reversed the lower court’s decision and upheld his conviction.

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