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Originally published February 17, 2009 at 9:50 AM | Page modified February 17, 2009 at 9:51 PM

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Crime-spree suspect Thompson starts trial by lunging at lawyer

Curtis S. Thompson, a sexually violent felon accused of a crime spree of rape, assault and homicide after a King County jury released him in 2003, faced his second of third trials on Tuesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

On the first day of his trial for the 2004 rape of an Eastlake woman, Curtis S. Thompson was wheeled into court Tuesday tightly bound at his chest, wrists and ankles into a restraint chair. He had made previous death threats against attorneys and a judge, and had attacked jail officers on the way to an earlier court hearing, prompting the extreme security measures.

The restraints did not stop Thompson from lunging at his attorney John Hicks as he was wheeled out of a courtroom during a break, shouting, "You scared to death, ain't you punk?"

Thompson's outburst came during the second of an expected three consecutive King County Superior Court trials in connection with a crime spree that included the Eastlake rape, assault and homicide after a King County jury released him in 2003. In the trial that started Tuesday, the 49-year-old Seattle man is accused of breaking into the apartment of an Eastlake woman on Aug. 17, 2004, and raping her, then pouring and rubbing bleach into her body to destroy any DNA evidence.

In October, Thompson was found guilty of assaulting two women near the University of Washington a week after the Eastlake rape. In that incident, Thompson cornered two women in an apartment elevator, robbed one of her engagement ring and forced the other to remove her top.

He has not been sentenced yet, but faces life in prison. He is scheduled to face a third trial on March 2 in connection with the murder of Deborah S. Byars, 45, who police believe was stabbed to death with a screwdriver in her apartment on 40th Avenue Northeast. Her body was found on Aug. 26, three days after the two women were assaulted near the UW.

Senior deputy prosecuting attorney Scott O'Toole began his opening statement in Tuesday's trial with the words the 29-year-old Eastlake woman said to her attacker the night she was raped: "Please don't kill me. I'm not ready to die."

Hicks, the defense attorney, said he was not sure whether the defense would present an opening statement.

According to O'Toole, Thompson pried back the screen on an open window and got into the apartment on Minor Avenue East at 2 a.m. The woman awoke as Thompson was trying to smother her, prosecutors say. Thompson then raped her several times, according to O'Toole.

"He whispered in her ear, 'What's a pretty girl like you doing alone? Why don't you have a boyfriend?' " O'Toole told the jury.

At one point, Thompson ordered her to place her hands behind her back, O'Toole said. The victim then grabbed a bedside lamp and hit him. Thompson, 6-feet-2 and 175 pounds, overpowered her and tied her wrists with the lamp cord and her ankles with a belt from her closet, according to O'Toole. He raped her again several times, O'Toole said.

He then gathered up the bed sheets and took them to the apartment building's laundry room and started the washing machine, O'Toole said. When he came back, the woman could hear liquid being poured in the apartment. She feared it was lighter fluid and that Thompson would set the place on fire, O'Toole said.

When she felt the liquid being poured and rubbed into her, she realized it was bleach, according to O'Toole.

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Thompson was not able to get rid of all the evidence though, O'Toole said. DNA found on the victim matched Thompson's DNA, he said. Blood from the broken light bulb as well as fingerprints on the lamp and the window screen also matched Thompson's, O'Toole said.

Thompson was convicted of four rapes in 1985.

In October 2003, when he was completing an 18-year sentence for the crimes, a King County jury rejected a plea from prosecutors to send Thompson to a secure treatment center for sexual offenders and ordered him released. It was a rare release — sexually violent predators are usually sent to the state's Special Commitment Center after incarceration.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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