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Saturday, November 06, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Jury finds teen guilty of killing classmate

By Jennifer Sullivan
Times Snohomish County Bureau

Donna Jasmer, left, mother of murder victim John Jasmer, is seen in the courthouse after her son's classmate, Jenson Hankins, was found guilty of first-degree murder. Jasmer is escorted by her boyfriend, Mike White, middle, and son Billy Jasmer, right.
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EVERETT — In just two hours yesterday, a Snohomish County jury rejected the argument that a Seattle teen didn't mean to kill his Roosevelt High School classmate, John Jasmer, who was bludgeoned and stabbed 29 times.

Jurors weren't convinced that Jenson Hankins meant only to intimidate the 16-year-old Jasmer. One juror even questioned why the case wasn't settled through a plea agreement.

"It was a pretty slam-dunk case," said jury foreman Dan Kring. "I would have to say that I didn't see much from the defense side."

Hankins, 17, appeared emotionless when the first-degree murder verdict came down.

Donna Jasmer, the victim's mother, said Hankins was her son's best friend. She hugged Hankins' father after the verdict was announced.

"I'm not the only parent suffering," she said later, sobbing. "All of these kids lost their childhoods."

On Aug. 21, 2003, Hankins and Joshua Goldman lured Jasmer from his parents' home on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill with the promise they were going to a marijuana farm in Marysville. Shortly after arriving at the Tulalip Reservation, Goldman led them to a wooded spot, which he and Hankins had visited the previous day to dig Jasmer's grave.

Timeline of John Jasmer's death

Aug. 21, 2003: Roosevelt High School students Jenson Hankins and Joshua Goldman lure classmate John Jasmer, 16, to the Tulalip Reservation, where he is slain and buried.

Aug. 28, 2003: Hankins, 16, and Goldman, 17, are arrested in connection with Jasmer's disappearance after one of the boys led police to Jasmer's body on the Tulalip Reservation the day before.

Sept. 2, 2003: Hankins and Goldman are charged with first-degree murder. They will be prosecuted as adults.

April 2004: A Seattle School District probe into the Jasmer slaying confirms a district employee knew of the plot before the slaying, but it fails to provide solid answers on whether the district followed its policies in dealing with threats against students.

Aug. 30, 2004: Goldman pleads guilty to first-degree murder. He agrees to testify against Hankins.

Oct. 29, 2004: Hankins' trial begins in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Nov. 5, 2004: Hankins is found guilty of first-degree murder.

Compiled from Seattle Times news archives

When Jasmer, 16, wasn't paying attention, Hankins struck him on the head with a hammer. Jasmer defended himself, but Goldman jumped on his back and stabbed his neck, Goldman testified earlier this week. Goldman pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in August.

After Jasmer collapsed in the dirt, Goldman held his hand over Jasmer's mouth and nose to hasten his death. Hankins returned the following day to collect potential evidence and hide the grave.

Prosecutors say Hankins was seeking revenge because he believed Jasmer had raped Hankins' girlfriend in June 2003. The girl, now 17, reported the rape to police but later recanted. When testifying earlier this week, she maintained the rape allegation but said she didn't want to pursue criminal charges.

Jasmer, Hankins and Goldman had been friends since their freshman year at Seattle's Roosevelt High School. They played on the school football team and called themselves "The J Crew" because their first names all began with "J."

Hankins faces up to 28 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 17. Goldman, 18, is expected to receive 22 years in prison when he is sentenced Tuesday.

Jenson Hankins was found guilty of first-degree murder.
"On Aug. 21, 2003, John Jasmer had lots to look forward to. He had a truck and the promise of a new part-time job near his house. He had friends and he had football," Deputy Prosecutor Michael Held said during his closing arguments yesterday. "But on that day, it was all taken away by Jenson Hankins and Joshua Goldman."

After the verdict, Held said "it was clear the jury had no trouble interpreting or reconciling fact from fiction."

Defense attorney Rachel Levy, who asked jurors to find Hankins guilty of second-degree murder, declined to comment on the verdict. During her closing arguments, Levy blamed Goldman for coming up with the plan to kill Jasmer.

"He [Hankins] fell into a fantasy plot, which resolved itself in a way he would not have imagined," Levy said. "This was not supposed to happen."

John Jasmer
Billy Jasmer, the victim's older brother, called Levy's defense "asinine."

Kring said he kept waiting for the defense's "silver bullet" — an argument that would convince him Hankins was guilty of second-degree murder. But, he said, that argument never came.

After closing arguments, jurors returned to their deliberation room at noon. About 1:30 p.m. they requested to hear the taped confession Hankins gave police; they were ready to announce their verdict 40 minutes later.

"I'd say the taped confession was pretty much indisputable," Kring said. "I mean, your words are your words."

Times staff reporter Emily Heffter contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 425-783-0604

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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