State of Washington v. Jeremy Vargas Sagastegui — (Findlaw)

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April 30, 1998

Sometime between the evening hours of November 18 and the early morning hours of November 19, 1995, at a residence in Finley, Washington, Jeremy Sagastegui sexually abused, beat, stabbed and then drowned Kievan Sarbacher (Kievan), a three-year-old boy who was in his care.   Sagastegui then waited for Kievan’s mother, Melissa Sarbacher (Sarbacher), to return home.   When she did so, he shot her and her friend, Lisa Vera-Acevado, who had accompanied Sarbacher home.

Later, on November 19, 1995, deputies of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Sarbacher’s residence after receiving a call from a neighbor.   There, they found the body of Vera-Acevado lying outside the home.   The deputies then went inside the residence and discovered Sarbacher’s body on the floor of the living room.   In one bedroom, they found two-year-old Tiana Sarbacher standing in a crib.   She was unharmed.   In the master bedroom, they found the lifeless body of three-year-old Kievan lying on a bed.   The child, who was wrapped in a green terry cloth towel, appeared slightly bluish in color and was cold to the touch.

The deputies observed a large bloody butcher knife next to Kievan’s body.   They also found a jar of petroleum jelly on the bed.   A later examination of Kievan’s corpse with a forensic light disclosed three small droplets on the inner thigh.   An examination of the substance in the jar with the forensic light revealed that it luminesced in the same manner as did the droplets discovered on the child’s body.   Within a bathtub in a bathroom located near the master bedroom, the investigating deputies found water and toys.   They also found bloodstains on the side of the tub.

Autopsies were performed on the bodies of all three victims by Dr. Terri Haddix, a forensic pathologist.   Haddix found that Kievan had been stabbed in the right side of his abdomen.   She also observed bruising about the child’s head and three lacerations in Kievan’s anus, all of which had produced bleeding.   She opined that penetration of “something” into the anal canal would have produced these lacerations.   Report of Proceedings (RP) at 1041.   She believed that the wounds to Kievan’s anus were of recent origin based on the fact that there was no evidence of healing or inflammation.   Haddix concluded that Kievan’s death was not caused by any of the aforementioned injuries but, rather, by drowning.   This conclusion was based on her discovery of the presence of foam within Kievan’s nose and upper airways and her finding that the child’s lungs were expanded in appearance.

Haddix concluded that Vera-Acevado’s death was caused by a single gunshot wound to the middle of her chest.   Sarbacher, on the other hand, had been shot twice.   One bullet penetrated her chest and the other entered through her neck and passed through her brain.  Haddix could not determine which wound was suffered first, but she opined that either would have been fatal…

On December 29, the State filed a notice of special sentencing procedure, indicating that it intended to seek the death penalty.   At a hearing on that date, information was presented to the trial court in the form of a written report and oral testimony which revealed that Sagastegui had stopped taking his prescribed medication (Vasotec for hypertension, Paxil for depression, and Pepcid for gastritis) and that he had exhibited unusual behavior in the jail.

From Murderpedia:

Last month his mother, Cayetana “Katie” Vargas, stepped in and fought for Sagastegui, presenting the picture of a man she said had been repeatedly sexually and physically abused as a child.  Vargas argued that her son suffered serious mental disorders. She wanted a stay of execution. Her requests were the first time a third party had sought legal standing as “next friend” in a Washington capital-punishment case.