A shooting spree inside a Jewish charity and a raging house fire that briefly concealed the stabbing deaths of two women and two children occurred 11 days apart in Seattle The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that two jailed suspects wait to learn whether a prosecutor believes that they are among “the worst of the worst” — killers who deserve to die for their crimes. The initial decision belongs to King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, who is known by lawyers and legal observers to give careful thought to whether a crime calls for the death penalty. In the past decade, Maleng has considered the question for 31 people charged with aggravated murder and sought the death penalty for three of them; a jury has imposed it once. Maleng hasn’t sought the state’s harshest punishment for anyone who killed just one person since 1995 and has declined to seek it for several suspects who were clearly mentally He took back his death penalty request for Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway, whom he allowed to trade details about the women he killed for his life.
The 28-year elected prosecutor said he always considers the crime, the evidence and what defense attorneys provide about the accused killer’s childhood, family, background, psychological history — or anything else before making up his mind. Maleng, a Republican running unopposed this year for an eighth term, is expected to decide in the coming months whether to seek the death penalty for Naveed Haq and Conner Schierman. Haq is accused of shooting six women, one of them fatally, July 28 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s downtown offices. Schierman is charged with stabbing to death a woman, her sister and two children, 3 and 5, and then setting fire to their home on July 17 — a crime for which a motive remains a mystery. Maleng generally hasn’t sought a death sentence for someone who clearly suffers from mental illness.