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Ridgway will hear from victims' relatives

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Family members of Green River Killer Gary Ridgway’s 48 victims will have an opportunity to speak at his sentencing hearing Dec. 18 to tell about the impact Ridgway’s self-described “career” had on their lives.

The King County Superior Court judge in the case has set aside enough time to allow each family to speak for 10 minutes. Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, said the hearing can carry into Dec. 19, if necessary.

Families can have one person address the court for the entire 10 minutes, or divide the time up among several family members who wish to speak.

While the court has background information about the murders Ridgway committed, court officials know very little about the victims or about how the serial murders impacted the lives of the victims’ families and friends, according to a letter sent to family members.

The time allotment will allow families to express how the loss affected them and what sentence they believe the court should hand down.

But because Ridgway was convicted of aggravated murder, the only sentence possible is life in prison without parole.

Ridgway pleaded guilty to the 48 murders in the Green River Killer case Nov. 5 in exchange for Maleng withdrawing his decision to seek the death penalty.

Family members will be allowed to write a letter to the court expressing their feelings and to attend the hearing and speak. Families are allowed to do either or both.

Those choosing to write a letter should address it to Judge Richard Jones and mail it before Dec. 5 to Mary Kirchner, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, W554 King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle, WA 98104.

Letters may be faxed to (206) 205-6104. Senders should include Ridgway’s name on the fax.

Ridgway’s sentencing hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m., though family members wishing to speak will be at the courthouse at 7 a.m.

Green River Task Force spokeswoman Kathleen Larson said Ridgway, 54, a former truck painter from Auburn who lived for a time in the Federal Way area, has taken police to all the sites he can remember where he dumped his victims’ bodies.

As part of his plea bargain, Ridgway agreed to work with police to help solve other murders he might have committed.

If he lies or conceals any of his murders and detectives connect him to any more, Ridgway could be eligible for the death penalty in those cases.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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