News

Carneh competent to stand trial

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Another session of treatment at Western State Hospital has rendered Leemah Carneh, 20, competent to stand trial for the 2001 quadruple murder of a family in Des Moines.

Carneh appeared before Judge Dale Ramerman in King County Superior Court on Sept. 18. He has been charged with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

Based on a report issued by doctors at Western State, Ramerman ruled that Carneh understands the nature of the proceedings against him, is able to assist his attorneys in his own defense and understands the consequences of changing his plea.

Carneh was arrested March 12, 2001 on suspicion of murdering Richard Larson, 63, and Leola Larson, 64, their grandson Taelor Marks, 17, and his girlfriend, Josie Peterson, 17, in the LarsonsŽ’ home.

Charging papers said the four were beaten, shot and stabbed late at night on March 8, 2001, and that several items were taken from the home.

Police arrested Carneh, then 19, four days later at a home where he lived with his parents in Pierce County. Detectives found some of the LarsonsŽ’, MarksŽ’ and PetersonŽ’s belongings in his possession, as well as a handgun and blood-spattered clothing.

Court records allege Carneh was obsessed with Peterson, a popular cheerleader and straight-A student at Evergreen High School.

Ramerman twice ruled Carneh was incompetent to stand trial based on his mental history, though police and prosecutors didnŽ’t elaborate on CarnehŽ’s mental issues. State law protects medical records from disclosure.

Ramerman has ordered Carneh into treatment at Western State Hospital twice since March 2001.

Louis Frantz, CarnehŽ’s attorney, earlier said Carneh denies involvement in the murders and maintains he was framed. Frantz couldnŽ’t be reached for comment on the latest ruling.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng declined to seek the death penalty against Carneh because of his mental history, though Carneh could serve life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted.

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