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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
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.
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.
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."
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
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