Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Deal made in Burkheimer case
Key defendant pleads guilty to kidnapping in exchange for testimony
By M.L. LYKE
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
EVERETT -- A key defendant in the Rachel Burkheimer murder case took a plea yesterday in exchange for testifying against others involved in the 2002 execution-style slaying.
Jeffrey Scott Barth, 23, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, a conviction that will put him behind bars for about a decade.
Barth was to appear at trial this week on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy and the kidnapping charge, along with co-defendant Yusef Jihad, 33. Convictions on those charges add up to a minimum of 25 years behind bars.
Prosecutors said information provided by Barth will help them seek aggravated-murder charges against Jihad. If Jihad is convicted, the minimum penalty would be life in prison without possibility of parole.
Jihad's trial, scheduled to begin this week, has been delayed for about a month as a result of the plea.
"We've asked the court to allow us to upgrade the charge to aggravated against Mr. Jihad to reflect what we believe his culpability to be," said Mark Roe, chief criminal deputy prosecutor.
Two other co-defendants in the case have been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which carries the possibility of the death penalty. But prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty for the accused men, John Anderson, 21, and John Whitaker, 23.
Whitaker's trial is scheduled for March; Anderson's is set for April.
Five of eight defendants have now pleaded guilty in the abduction and killing of 18-year-old Burkheimer, who was gagged, beaten, put in a duffel bag and driven to a remote site near Gold Bar.
P-I reporter M.L. Lyke can be reached at 425-252-2215 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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