Death penalty possible for Carneh

Leemah Carneh, 20, is competent to stand trial in King County Superior Court for the murder of four people in Des Moines, including a Federal Way girl.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office now has until March 22 to decide whether to pursue the death penalty.

If convicted of the quadruple homicide, Carneh, who was 19 at the time of the murders, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

A psychologist working for Carneh’s defense testified in August last year that Carneh was mentally incompetent to stand trial for the murders.

A King County Superior Court judge ruled as such in September and ordered Carneh into 90 days of treatment and medication against his will at Western State Hospital.

Last Tuesday’s ruling of competency follows that 90 days of treatment.

Carneh was arrested in March 2001 on suspicion of murdering Richard and Leola Larson, 63 and 64; their grandson Taelor Marks, 17; and his girlfriend Josie Peterson, also 17.

Police found the Larsons, Marks and Peterson on March 9, 2001 in the Larsons’ Des Moines home.

The Larsons had been shot at close range. Marks was found shot in the back, beaten in the head and stabbed in the neck. Peterson was found beaten in the head and stabbed in the neck.

Detectives believe Carneh was obsessed with Peterson, who was a popular cheerleader at Evergreen High School.

Police raided a Spanaway home on March 13, 2001 where Carneh lived with his mother and step-father after they became aware of a 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo belonging to Marks that Carneh had sold to a man for $300.

At the home, police found bloody clothes, Peterson’s picture and ring she had given Marks for Christmas.

Carneh was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated, first-degree murder. He was booked into the King County Juvenile Detention Center and held without bail.

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