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Title: Young defendants win separate trials in Bellevue murder case

Source: The Seattle Times, October 7th, 1998

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Copyright 1998 The Seattle Times Company
Posted at 12:55 p.m. PDT; Wednesday, October 7, 1998 

Young defendants win separate trials in Bellevue murder case
by Alex Fryer
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

In a surprise move, King County Superior Court Judge Michael Spearman decided today to try the two defendants separately in Bellevue's worst-ever murder case.

The decision came after testimony from a psychologist who had interviewed one of the defendants, Alex Baranyi.

Psychologist Karen Froming testified that Baranyi was depressed before the 1997 murders of the four-member Wilson family and was under the influence of the other defendant, David Anderson. Attorneys for both defendants asked for separate trials. The prosecutors did not challenge the motion.

"Both defendants are blaming the other," said Special Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Baird. "Mr. Baranyi will say Devil Anderson made me do it. Mr. Anderson will say Mr. Baranyi did it himself."

Jury selection in the Baranyi trial was set to continue this afternoon.

A new trial for Anderson has yet to be scheduled.

If convicted of the four counts of aggravated first-degree murder, Baranyi and Anderson, both 19, will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Although Baranyi and Anderson are pursuing different defense strategies, prosecutors will seek to prove both defendants took an active part in the slaying of William and Rose Wilson, and their daughters, Kimberly, 20, and Julia, 17.

To do so, they must present a stream of physical evidence and testimony that one prosecutor predicted would be "two months of horror and disbelief."

In statements to police made soon after he was arrested, Baranyi said he and an unnamed, unidentified accomplice strangled Kimberly Wilson in Woodridge Water Tower Park on Jan. 3, 1997.

He said he later walked into her unlocked house about a half-mile away and bludgeoned her family. Baranyi would not implicate Anderson to detectives.

Baranyi's statements to police are only a portion of the evidence gathered against him, however. The Wilsons' telephone, compact-disc player and VCR later were discovered in a room he rented, and, according to prosecutors, he told a psychologist that he "never felt better" than after the slayings.

Medical examiners are expected to testify that the weapons used to kill William and Julia Wilson were a sword and a baseball bat. That raises the possibility that they were assaulted by more than one attacker.

Scores of witnesses are expected to testify that Baranyi and Anderson were best friends who acted out Gothic fantasies and played "Dungeons and Dragons," a game in which participants create elaborate make-believe worlds of swords and sorcery. However, the judge will exclude testimony from two Eastside role-playing groups that banished Baranyi and his friends for crossing the line from pretend violence to real contact.

Prosecutors will present several witnesses who heard both defendants talk about their desire to murder with baseball bats and knives.

Attorneys for Baranyi have sought to argue that he suffers from bipolar disorder and was mentally unable to plan the slayings. Although Spearman initially rejected the request to pursue a diminished-capacity defense, Baranyi's attorneys filed a second motion after a state Supreme Court ruling, handed down Thursday, lowered the standards for when such a defense can be used.

Spearman ruled today that Baranyi could present a diminished-capacity defense. It is an infrequently used defense aimed to either gain an acquittal or conviction on a lesser charge.
 
During jury selection last week, lawyers for Anderson compared their situation to O.J. Simpson's double-murder trial. Like the Simpson legal defense team, attorneys for Anderson are likely to contest every shred of physical evidence and testimony.

Reminding potential jurors of the public outcry that followed Simpson's acquittal, in his double-murder trial, attorney Michael Kolker asked: "Are you prepared to endure that same criticism if you render an unpopular verdict?"

"The real question is not, did Mr. Anderson commit this crime, but did the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Anderson committed this crime."

Kolker then asked, "Is anyone anxious to be on this jury?"

The courtroom was silent.

Alex Fryer's phone message number is 206-464-8124. His e-mail address is: afryer@seattletimes.com
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