50-year prison term for ex-girlfriend’s murder
A 31-year-old Burien man with a long history of committing “very twisted and disturbing” domestic-violence offenses was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Friday for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend in her Auburn apartment in October 2012.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A King County judge sentenced a Burien man to 50 years in prison Friday for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend 15 days after he was released from prison in October 2012 after serving time for threatening to kill her.
A jury found Scottye Miller, 31, guilty of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon last month for killing Tricia Patricelli, 33, in the bathroom of her Auburn apartment.
The jury’s verdict also included two aggravating factors: That Miller engaged in a pattern of domestic-violence abuse involving multiple victims and that he committed the murder soon after being released from incarceration after serving a one-year sentence for a prior domestic-violence offense against Patricelli.
The aggravators allowed the state to seek an exceptional sentence, above the standard range of roughly 30 to 40 years.
Defense attorney David Hancock argued for a midrange sentence of almost 35 years, arguing Miller would lose his “youthful vigor” by the time of his release and would no longer represent a threat to women.
But Superior Court Judge Barbara Linde rejected the request, saying Miller didn’t simply kill his victim in a moment of passion. Instead, she said, Miller “showed an almost pathological creativity in terrorizing women,” and has a long history of committing “very twisted and disturbing” domestic-violence offenses.
“I have not seen this kind of intentional, systematic, repetitive devotion to terrorizing women” in all her years on the bench — and Patricelli’s slaying was far worse than most first-degree-murder cases she’s presided over, the judge said.
Early on Oct. 30, 2012, Miller stabbed Patricelli 30 times with a large knife, then fled her Auburn apartment, jumping over a fence and tossing away the bloody weapon and gloves he wore during the brutal attack. Auburn police officers found Miller later that morning at a bus stop a few blocks from the crime scene, his clothing spotted with Patricelli’s blood.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy called Miller “a serial domestic-violence offender” who hit, strangled and threatened his ex-wife for years, and then went on to beat, stalk and ambush Patricelli — while violating every court order issued to protect the women and their families.
Most of his prior felony crimes were reduced to misdemeanors before the state Legislature imposed increased penalties for domestic-violence offenses in November 2011, McCoy said.
Miller declined to address the court and didn’t appear to react to the sentence.
Patricelli’s friends and family — including her two daughters, ages 10 and 13 — packed the courtroom gallery. Miller’s ex-wife, Angel McKinney, her mother and sister were also in court, along with one of the jurors who convicted Miller.
Though juror Michelle Ewart never met Patricelli, “after sitting through the trial, I felt I knew her.”
“It was a really horrific crime,” Ewart said, noting that Miller stabbed Patricelli 30 times and “five of those wounds were mortal.”
Jessyka Burke, McKinney’s sister, told the court Miller terrorized her entire family.
“I needed to be here, not just for Tricia’s children but for my children” and nephew, who is Miller’s son, Burke said. “Mr. Miller needs to be locked up and have the key thrown away. He’s done this for 11 years, and that’s 11 years too many.”
Patricelli’s mother, Cathy Harper, said her daughter always gave clothes, food and a place to sleep to anyone in need, including Miller.
Harper, who is now raising her granddaughters, said both girls suffer nightmares and “live every single day in fear” that Miller is going to “get out and kill them ... just like he did their mother.”
“I hope he never gets out to terrorize another family again,” she said.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org