April 20, 2001 (TACOMA, Wash.) – A judge has ruled that a serial killer’s confession to killing 10 women in Spokane can be used at his trial for killing two women on the other side of the state.
Robert Yates pleaded guilty to the Spokane murders under an agreement that spared him the death penalty. A Pierce County Superior Court judge said that the jury there can be told the details. Prosecutors in Pierce County are seeking a death sentence.
Judge John McCarthy also delayed the start of Yates’ trial until May 2002 to give his lawyers time to prepare.
Prosecutors argued that Yates’ confession is critical to the trial in Tacoma because the two Pierce County killings fit into the pattern established in Spokane, both in the selection of victims and the method used. They also plan to use the Spokane killings as an aggravating factor to convince jurors that he deserves to die.
Defense lawyers failed to convince McCarthy that the confession will so prejudice jurors that they will be unable to give him a fair hearing.