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Title: Trial in Bellevue's worst-ever slaying case moves closer

Source: Seattle Times, September 17th, 1998

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Copyright 1998 The Seattle Times Company
Posted at 03:17 a.m. PDT; Thursday, September 17, 1998 

Trial in Bellevue's worst-ever slaying case moves closer
by Alex Fryer
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

They were the best of friends, two Eastside teenagers who shared an interest in making cardboard swords, fantasy role-playing and pop-Gothic culture. They fancied black clothes and pulled all-nighters drinking coffee at Denny's or just driving around, enjoying the freedom of living on their own.

While Alex Baranyi often seemed awkward and shy, David Anderson was athletic and self-confident, and compensated for his friend's lack of social skills.

Both led unremarkable lives and passed through the Eastside largely unnoticed. Until the first week of last year.

Tomorrow, potential King County jurors will be impaneled for a trial that prosecutors say will prove the two are responsible for Bellevue's worst-ever slaying case.

On Jan. 5, 1997, children playing in Woodridge Water Tower Park came upon the body of 20-year-old Kimberly Wilson, a 1995 Bellevue High School graduate. When police went to her home about eight blocks away, they found the bodies of her slain parents, William and Rose Wilson, and younger sister, 17-year-old Julia Wilson. Investigators quickly discovered a connection between Kimberly Wilson and Anderson, which led them to question Baranyi. Days later, both were arrested.

Baranyi and Anderson have been charged with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder. If convicted, they will spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of release. Because they were 17 when arrested, they are ineligible for the death penalty. According to prosecutors, their motive was nothing more than the desire to kill somebody for the experience.

Neighbors and family members say the trial holds little promise for closure. The killings were so unprovoked, so meaningless, they say, that the community could do little more than grieve and move on. 

"It's left the neighborhood unscathed," said Barbara Sauerbrey, president of Woodridge Community Association and the Wilsons' next-door neighbor.

"Regardless of where the Wilsons lived, it was directed at them. It wasn't a random thing that we need to go around and lock our windows."

On the surface at least, life has returned to normal among the quiet cul-de-sacs and low-slung ramblers nestled atop a rise overlooking interstates 405 and 90.

The Wilson house sold for $244,999 late last year, and a new couple moved in. An ornamental tree was planted in the Wilsons' memory next to a wooden sign that reads, "Welcome to Woodridge," but there is nothing else to remind passers-by of the lives taken just up the hill.

The families of the accused have also sought to regain some sense of normalcy. Last month, Anderson's relatives told one another jokes while they waited in a courthouse hallway to watch a routine hearing. They kiddingly suggested tackling the guard escorts and whisking Anderson away. But when their son walked past in shackles, they offered only quiet encouragement as he managed a weak smile and a wistful "Hi, Mom." Baranyi's mother reportedly is a regular jail visitor.

Both families have declined to speak to reporters.

Julia Mahoney, the 79-year-old mother of Rose Wilson, said she will not attend the trial. The legal proceedings have dragged on too long, she said, and the outcome won't change what happened. But the passage of time hasn't made her loss any easier. Her granddaughters once drove her to appointments and errands. Now, she worries about who will take care of her as she enters her 80s.

Baranyi was born in Pennsylvania and bounced between his divorced parents. He'd lived in Woodridge with his father and stepmother, but five months before the slayings he moved in with a friend. Anderson lived two blocks from Baranyi in Woodridge, but also moved out to live with friends. Both teens dropped out of Bellevue's alternative high school.

Once described as inseparable, they are expected to pursue very different defense strategies.

Attorneys for Baranyi aren't contesting the accusations but said they will seek to prove that he suffered from mental disorders and delusions. An attorney for Anderson told reporters last January that his client would be proved not guilty.

To win a conviction of aggravated first-degree murder, prosecutors must show that the defendants had planned to kill.

Early in the investigation, detectives received a tip about a friend of Kimberly Wilson, identified as "David," who told friends he was planning to commit a "heinous" crime, according to court papers.

In a statement to detectives, Baranyi said he had wanted to kill someone for years, to "experience something truly phenomenal."  Although he said he knew Kimberly Wilson, he held no personal animosity against her. 

Anderson periodically dated Kimberly and owed her $350. She kept several of his photographs in her bedroom and willingly left to meet the defendants for a walk on the evening of Jan. 3, 1997.

Baranyi said he and an accomplice strangled Wilson and later walked into the unlocked Wilson house. Fearful that Kimberly had told her parents whom she was meeting with that night, Baranyi said he took an aluminum baseball bat from the garage and bludgeoned the family.

The Wilsons' telephone, compact-disc player and VCR later were discovered in a room Baranyi rented. In the truck Anderson said he drove the night of the slayings, detectives removed part of a black T-shirt and a rope. Parts of a similar T-shirt were found in the Wilson residence. The rope is "indistinguishable" from the one used to strangle Kimberly Wilson, according to prosecutors. 

Criminalists also discovered bloodstains in the truck's cab.

Baranyi would not implicate Anderson in his statement to police and said he was the "only person I've ever liked."

In interviews with police, friends of both defendants said they had talked openly about killing the Wilsons for at least two years. Prosecutors allege Anderson told a fellow inmate in the King County Jail that he helped kill Kimberly Wilson but was merely present when Baranyi killed the rest of the family.

Baranyi's attorneys say they will call a San Diego psychologist to testify about his instability, and attorneys for Anderson are expected to challenge Baranyi's statement to police in what is expected to be a six-week trial.

During jury selection, which begins Sept. 28, King County Superior Court Judge Michael Spearman will determine if local jurors can form an impartial panel, or whether the trial will be moved to another county.
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