King Count Prosecutor, Norm Maleng, announced a team of 4 deputy prosecutors to will handle the case.
Jeff Baird, 48, a 20-year prosecutor, will lead the team with Patricia Eakes, Brian McDonald and Marilyn Brenneman.
Baird does not talk to the media. "Respectfully, I'd rather not," is his standard reply.
Baird leads the felony trial unit. He founded the Most Dangerous Offender Project, bringing prosecutors into homicide cases when police are first called.
He is considered one of the state's legal experts on DNA evidence.
Eakes and Baird won convictions against teenagers Alex Baranyi and David Anderson in the 1997 slayings of a Bellevue family. "He was very clear, very precise," said Rodney White, jury foreman in the 1999 trial of 20-year-old David Anderson in a case that also based on DNA. "He wasn't using those great big 50-cent words."
"You're trying to have a conversation with a jury," said Maleng. No one does that better than Baird.
Baird has, "a special gift ... to focus on detail and not be distracted as some people are," said Tim Bradshaw, senior deputy prosecutor. He uses flip charts in his closing arguments and is an expert at evoking emotions at just the right time.
Baird has never tried a death-penalty case. He opposes the death penalty, and cases have been shifted to keep them off his desk. Maleng said, Baird will be kept on. Maleng has not discussed the issue with him. Maleng said if the death penalty is sought, responsibility for that aspect of the case would not rely on Baird.
Brian McDonald runs the juvenile section of the Prosecutor's Office and is experienced in criminal appeals.
Gary Ridgway was ordered to appear in court again Jan. 2, 2002 when King County prosecutors will decide to seek the death penalty.
Budgeting has been a huge issue in this case already.
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said he would not accept a guilty plea in exchange for not pursuing the death penalty. "I will not bargain with the death penalty," he said. "The mission of this office is to seek justice."
Maleng believes "it is possible for us to impanel a fair jury here in King County."
Prosecutors say DNA evidence using the latest technology, called STR testing is the cornerstone of the case. Those DNA tests will be used in conjunction with any evidence deemed relevant in the 67 pages of evidence to determine if evidence links him to the slayings will take time.
In trying complex criminal cases, the best way to try a multiple count murder case is it the same way as trying a single count seems to be the opinion of prosecutors.
Officials of the King County prosecutor's office are taking bids from firms specializing in litigation management. The plan is to scan documents the generated the past two decades into a computer database for both the prosecution and defense.
The prosecutor's office may be seeking "in-kind" donations of time and materials from Seattle's largest law firms.
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