Judge deems suspect in stabbing ‘an extreme danger’
A judge Monday said Donnell D. Jackson was “an extreme danger to the community” in setting his bail at $2 million for an alleged knife attack Friday night in Pioneer Square that killed a Shoreline Community College professor and injured his girlfriend.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A judge said Monday that Donnell D. Jackson is “an extreme danger to the community” and set his bail at $2 million in connection with the unprovoked knife attack Friday night in Pioneer Square that killed a Shoreline Community College professor and injured his girlfriend.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz, who requested the high bail, noted that Jackson has “only been living in Seattle for two months,” is homeless and claims he’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Public defender Maureen McKee asked King County District Court Judge Arthur Chapman “to impose a reasonable amount of bail,” arguing Jackson, 44, “suffers from an extreme mental illness” and would benefit from mental-health treatment outside of jail.
Noting that may be true, Chapman said it was very likely Jackson would fail to appear in court for future hearings and “also very likely some other crime would occur if he were released.” He noted that Jackson appears to have a criminal history in California, including a conviction for a crime that was “tantamount to arson.”
“This case is beyond tragic,” said Chapman, who also said “whether he (Jackson) has a mental illness in fact is still open to question.”
Jackson waived his presence in court.
At an earlier hearing Saturday, Chapman found probable cause to hold Jackson on investigation of homicide and assault, though Jackson did not make a court appearance at that time, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
Professor Troy Wolff , 46, died from his injuries Saturday, and his girlfriend, Kristin Ito, 30, was being treated at Harborview Medical Center. Her condition was unknown Monday.
The couple had attended a Seattle Sounders game Friday night and were walking near Third Avenue South and South Jackson Street when they were randomly attacked, police said.
According to the probable-cause statement outlining the police case against him, Jackson stabbed Ito once in the torso, then struggled with Wolff when he intervened. Wolff was stabbed numerous times in the neck and chest, and witnesses later told police that Jackson yelled he was “going to kill” him, wrote Seattle police homicide Detective Cloyd Steiger.
When officers arrived, they found Jackson standing over Wolff, the statement says.
After his arrest, Jackson told detectives he is schizophrenic and that Wolff “was a member of a group trying to kill him,” according to the statement.
“Suspect is a dangerous mentally ill person who attacked and may have killed a stranger for no reason,” Steiger wrote, adding that Jackson is considered an extreme danger to the public. The probable-cause statement also says Jackson is a transient who moved to Seattle a few months ago and has no ties to the local community.
According to the probable-cause statement, it appears Jackson also has drug-related convictions, but it wasn’t immediately clear where.
David Rothrock, 47, said Monday he was among a small group of strangers who came upon the scene Friday night as Wolff lay bleeding on the sidewalk. But they were kept from helping him by Jackson, who sat beside Wolff while still armed with a knife.
“I have a deep sense of loss for him and his family,” Rothrock, who lives on Capitol Hill with his wife and children, said of Wolff. “I would want them to know ... everyone tried to help in any way they could but it was too dangerous to approach.”
Rothrock, who also attended the Sounders game, was with his family at Third Avenue South and South Jackson Street when a man ran up to Rothrock, asking if he had a cellphone. It was about 10:30 p.m.
“He said, ‘This guy’s been stabbed. Somebody needs to call 911.’ I thought it was a hoax, but then I saw Troy on the ground,” Rothrock said.
Wolff, who was wearing a green Sounders jersey, wasn’t moving but was still breathing, Rothrock said. He saw a man, who was agitated and swearing, sitting on the sidewalk beside him.
“I completely misread the situation — I thought (Jackson) was a good Samaritan telling him to hold on till the ambulance got there,” he said. “I walked over to Troy and could tell he was still alive but obviously gravely injured.”
The man sitting beside Wolff jumped to his feet and with the knife in his hand, started backing up while yelling at Rothrock to get away. Worried for his own safety, Rothrock retreated and tried to call 911 but couldn’t get through to a dispatcher. The armed man sat back down next to Wolff, he said.
“It wasn’t a big knife — maybe 4 to 6 inches,” Rothrock said.
Rothrock — who never saw Ito — said he was about to run over to a nearby firehouse to summon help, but then heard sirens and watched as members of the Seattle Police Department’s gang unit arrived in two unmarked cars.
“As soon as the police showed up and approached him, he threw the knife on the sidewalk and rolled over” to be handcuffed, Rothrock said of Jackson.
At a Monday news conference, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn called for increased funding for mental-health treatment beds, saying the number of people with untreated mental illnesses has become an emergency situation on Seattle streets.
Business interests were able to defeat an effort before the 2011 Legislature to fund mental-health services by eliminating an out-of-state sales-tax exemption, McGinn said. He challenged Seattle’s business community, which has been critical of the mayor’s response to crime downtown, to help identify a funding source for additional treatment beds.
“This is a long-standing issue for the city, the county and the state,” McGinn said.
McGinn said that mental-health treatment has been slashed by the Legislature over the past few years and that there are few available treatment beds even for those accused of misdemeanor crimes. He cited a letter he and Interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel sent Gov. Jay Inslee in July pointing out that Western State Hospital has refused to accept most of the individuals sent by Seattle Municipal Court for psychiatric evaluations since January.
Jon Scholes, vice president for the Downtown Seattle Association, said his group joined with others participating in the mayor’s Center City Initiative to call on legislative leaders to provide adequate funding for housing for the mentally ill, and to ensure that those who commit misdemeanor crimes are evaluated and receive mental-health treatment.
“We are in complete agreement that the state is failing the city on this issue,” Scholes said. “When they cut mental health and housing, there’s not a neighborhood in the state that feels it more than downtown Seattle.”
Seattle Times staff reporter Lynn Thompson contributed to this story, which also includes information from Times archives. Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org