Attorney: Ridgway likely to plead guilty to new murder charge
The attorney for Gary L. Ridgway says the Green River killer is expected to plead guilty to a count of aggravated murder filed Monday in connection with the slaying of a 20-year-old woman who vanished in 1982.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The attorney for the Green River killer says Gary L. Ridgway is expected to plead guilty to a count of aggravated murder filed Monday in connection with the slaying of a 20-year-old woman who vanished after leaving a SeaTac motel in 1982.
"He takes responsibility for it," attorney Mark Prothero said Monday.
The woman, Rebecca "Becky" Marrero, was long believed to be a victim of Ridgway, who confessed to her slaying when he agreed to plead guilty to 48 other murders eight years ago in a deal that spared his life. But it wasn't until December, after three teens stumbled upon her remains in an Auburn ravine, that prosecutors had the evidence they needed to charge Ridgway on Monday with her slaying.
In recent discussions with the serial killer, Prothero said Ridgway has indicated he wants to plead guilty at his Feb. 18 arraignment. Prothero also represented Ridgway when he pleaded guilty to the earlier charges.
Because Ridgway previously confessed to Marrero's killing, the new charge falls under the terms of his controversial 2003 plea agreement, prosecutors said.
If Ridgway decides to plead not guilty, he could jeopardize the earlier plea deal and could potentially face the death penalty, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
"I don't expect any surprises, but nothing is 100 percent done until it's done," Prothero said of Ridgway's expected guilty plea.
If Ridgway enters a guilty plea to Marrero's death, he will continue to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said in announcing the new murder charge.
Satterberg said he expects Ridgway to plead guilty.
When Ridgway is arraigned Feb. 18 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, it will be the first time he has set foot in a King County courtroom since he was sentenced Nov. 5, 2003, prosecutors said.
"The Marreros have the right to face the man who killed Becky," Satterberg said. "They finally have answers and with the anticipated guilty plea they will obtain the truth."
Satterberg said Saturday the Marrero family "was finally able to give a proper burial" to Marrero after a church service.
"Her daughter, her sister, her mother and other family and friends stood together with dignity and respect to pay tribute to this young woman who was taken from them far too soon," Satterberg said.
Since 2003, Ridgway has been in the ultra-secure Intensive Management Unit, or solitary confinement, at the Washington State Penitentiary, in Walla Walla, according to the state Department of Corrections (DOC). Every 30 days, a panel reviews his case to see if he is ready to be moved into the prison's general population, but because of his notoriety he has remained in his single-person cell, said DOC spokeswoman Maria Peterson.
Ridgway has never asked to be moved into general population, Peterson said.
Last seen in 1982
Marrero was last seen Dec. 3, 1982, leaving the Western Six Motel at South 168th Street and Pacific Highway South. She left her 3-year-old daughter with a relative, intending to be gone only a short time.
Marrero's mother, Rebecca, reported her missing on July 20, 1984. She had always been hopeful her daughter was still alive, said Jenny Wieland Ward, executive director of the Everett-based Families & Friends of Violent Crime Victims.
When Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 murders in 2003, Becky Marrero's brother, Perfecto Marrero, was in attendance. He was disappointed that his sister's name was not listed among the victims read aloud in court.
"The detectives had told us that she was not on the list, but we thought that they were at least going to mention her name," he told The Seattle Times in 2003. "We thought that they were going to say something, or have some answers for us, but they did not."
Marrero's family could not be reached Monday.
Ridgway's guilty pleas gave investigators what they desperately wanted — confessions to almost 70 unsolved killings, King County prosecutors said. Though Ridgway admitted to nearly 70 slayings, prosecutors said they only had evidence linking him to 48 cases.
Cooperation with the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history came at a price. By taking the death penalty off the table, then-King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng came under fire from those who believed Ridgway should die for his crimes. Before Ridgway confessed and led authorities to the remains of his victims, most of whom were young runaways, prostitutes and drug addicts, investigators could only directly link him to a handful of cases.
The confession and location of the remains also brought closure to the families of the four dozen victims.
"In the end it wasn't about what Gary Ridgway deserved. He deserved no mercy; he deserved the death penalty," Satterberg said on Monday. "In the end it was about what the families deserved."
In 2003, Ridgway told investigators the general location where he believed he disposed of Marrero's remains, but members of King County's Green River Task Force could not find them.
Marrero's remains were found in December in a ravine in the 6300 block of 296th Street, just west of West Valley Highway North, an area near where Ridgway disposed of the remains of Marie Malvar. Ridgway previously pleaded guilty to Malvar's killing.
Remains of three
The remains of three other Ridgway victims have been found but never identified. Ridgway implied that the three were killed in spring or summer 1983.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the remains belonged to:
• A white female, possibly as young as 12; found March 21, 1984, in the Burien area off Des Moines Memorial Drive South.
• An African-American or possibly mixed-race female; found Dec. 30, 1985, near Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn. She was likely between 18 and 24 when she died.
• A white female, between 14 and 18; found Jan. 2, 1986, near Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn.
Also in 2003, Ridgway claimed to have killed three other women: Kelly Kay McGinness, 18; Kassee Lee, 16; and Patricia Osborn, 19. But the women's remains have never been found, and he wasn't charged in their slayings because of a lack of sufficient evidence.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.