Cross pleads guilty to murder — (Snoqualmie Valley Record)

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Snoqualmie Valley Record

Oct 2, 2008 at 2:32 PM

SEATTLE – Davya Cross will not go on trial for the stabbing deaths of three Snoqualmie residents after telling a King County Superior Court judge Monday he would plead guilty to three counts of first-degree aggravated murder because he felt “responsible” for what happened.

In a document prepared for Judge Joan DuBuque, Cross, 41, submitted “Alford pleas” to the three murder counts and one count of first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon. Under an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty to a charge because there is enough evidence for a jury to convict the defendant.

“Like I said all along, I want to take responsibility for these crimes,” Cross told DuBuque inside a courtroom at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. However, he maintains the murders were not premeditated and he has difficulty recalling exactly what took place the day of the murders.

DuBuque accepted Cross’s pleas, saying his decision was “voluntary” and he understood the consequences of his pleading guilty.

“I am satisfied that he fully and completely and thoroughly understands the seriousness of these circumstances,” she said.

Despite the pleas, prosecutors will continue to seek the death penalty for Cross, who they say intentionally stabbed and killed Amanda Baldwin, 15, Salome Holly, 18, and their mother, Anouchka Baldwin, 37, with a butcher knife on March 6, 1999, at their home on Southeast Reinig Road. Cross also reportedly kidnapped Mellissa Baldwin, 14, and threatened to harm her with the knife. He said another reason for his guilty pleas was to save Mellissa Baldwin from having to testify in court.

“She’s the one that suffered the most through all of this,” he said.

Cross pleaded guilty to the charges against the advice of his attorneys, Mark Larranaga and Richard Warner. Larranaga and Warner were prepared to mount an insanity defense for a jury trial based on mental-health evaluations performed by several experts.

By agreeing to the plea, Cross gave up his rights to have the charges affirmed or denied by a jury. He also gave up his rights to be convicted of lesser-included charges, which could have reduced his time in prison, if convicted.

Instead, a jury impaneled for a sentencing hearing will have only two options in deciding Cross’s fate: life in prison, or the death penalty.

During a break, Larranaga said Cross’s Alford plea was the first in Washington for a case of this nature. Alford pleas are typically used during plea bargains with prosecutors and defendants. During the hearing, DuBuque agreed that the case was breaking new ground.

“We keep charting new territory in this case,” she said, adding, “In this particular case, there is no plea bargain, so it is a different and unique circumstance.”

DuBuque spent most of Monday peppering Cross — whose only other conviction came on a 1989 recklessly endangering misdemeanor charge in Clinton County, Penn. — with questions about his guilty pleas to the murder and kidnapping charges, which he mostly answered either “yes” or “no.”

At times Cross appeared nonchalant about the hearing, humming to himself as he was led out of the courtroom during an afternoon break and rolling his head back and forth as DuBuque asked him questions.

He also showed his disdain for the prosecuting attorneys, Don Raz and Tim Bradshaw, calling them “Bert and Ernie” and “faggots.”

DuBuque first asked him about his current mental state and whether any of the medications he is taking, including antibiotics and antidepressants, influenced his decision to plead guilty. Cross said they hadn’t, although when DuBuque asked him if he was under the influence of any illicit drugs, he said, “I wish I was.”

He told the judge he has wanted to plead guilty for “the past year and a half,” and when questioned, he said he knew of no benefit he would receive for his pleas.

“I don’t see how I’d have an advantage,” he said. “I’m not looking for a benefit.”

Before Monday’s hearing, prosecutors and defense lawyers were busy narrowing down a large jury pool to decide the guilt phase of Cross’s case. But instead of deciding his guilt or innocence, a jury, which has yet to be selected, will determine whether Cross should face life in prison without the possibility of parole or receive the death penalty.

At the sentencing hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. A date for the hearing has not been set.