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Title: Friends Describe Baranyi's Fantasy World

Source: The Seattle Times, October 14th, 1998

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Posted at 02:52 a.m. PDT; Wednesday, October 14, 1998

Friends describe Baranyi's fantasy world
by Alex Fryer

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Friends and former roommates of Alex Baranyi testified yesterday in Baranyi's quadruple-murder trial that he possesses a sharp intellect and robust imagination.

Although Baranyi was also described as moody and introverted at times, those testifying in King County Superior Court said he worked long hours at a waterproofing company and helped his landlord with household chores.

None of the eight witnesses called by the prosecution said Baranyi, 19, showed signs of mental illness before Jan. 3, 1997. That night, according to prosecutors, Baranyi and his best friend strangled Kimberly Wilson, 20, in a Bellevue park. They later killed Kimberly's parents, William and Rose, and her 17-year-old sister, Julia, at the Wilsons' Bellevue home about eight blocks from the park, prosecutors say.

Baranyi and David Anderson, 19, are charged with four counts of aggravated-first-degree murder. Anderson will be tried after Baranyi. If convicted, they will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Attorneys for Baranyi will not present their case for another week or so, but they are expected to argue that their client suffers from bipolar disorder, otherwise known as manic depression, and was incapable of plotting the crime.

Yesterday, prosecution witnesses portrayed Baranyi as a loyal friend and a likable guy.

"We talked about all sorts of things. We had a good time," said Marsha Rash, 21, who lived with Anderson at the time of the  slayings. She said she had been friends with Baranyi since early 1996 and saw or talked to him almost every day.

Anderson and Baranyi loved each other like brothers, said Rash, although Anderson would sometimes tire of Baranyi's mood swings.

When Rash visited Baranyi in jail after the slayings, he wasn't upset or crying, she said. He also appeared unconcerned about being punished, said Rash.

"All he said is that if he ever got out (of prison), he expected to see me having a good life for myself," she said.

Rash and Baranyi's former roommate, Robert Boyd, 18, both testified that Baranyi told them he believed he was a demigod named Slice or Thunderclap, but that it was in the context of role-playing fantasy games. Baranyi had concocted a make-believe love interest for his character named Rose, said Rash, and seemed "pretty serious" about his fantasy.

When Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Baird asked Boyd whether he was frightened when Baranyi talked about being a demigod, Boyd replied:

"I thought it was kind of cool. He had ambitions, and I thought that was a good quality to have."

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Copyright 1999 The Seattle Times Company
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