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Spokane man gets 10 year sentence for murder charge

The 18-year-old man accused of stabbing a Spokane, Washington, woman to death as she walked her dog pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The man was only 17 when the crime occurred, but he was tried as an adult. Because the man had no earlier felony convictions on criminal charges and prosecutors said the case suffered from evidentiary issues, he was sentenced to just 10 years in prison.

Apparently, however, prosecutors felt fortunate to get even that sentence in the crime. They never found the murder weapon. DNA evidence was not available and had not panned out. While the man had confessed to the crime, he later retracted this admission of guilt and maintains his innocence. Doubt remained as to whether the confession would be ruled admissible. The man may also face charges relating to a second attack he is accused of committing.

Subtracted from whatever time the man serves in prison will be the year he had already served in jail awaiting trial. He had entered what is called an Alford plea, under which a defendant can maintain innocence at the same time he or she acknowledges that the evidence would probably secure a conviction if the case went to trial.

While second-degree murder has a maximum penalty of life in prison, the defendant was eligible for a more lenient sentence of 10 to 18 years. The judge and prosecutors agreed to give him the lower sentence because they felt that the evidence against him was shaky. The defendant and his family are still maintaining his innocence, claiming that his confession was false. Other individuals were suspects in this case, but no one else has been formally charged.

Source: The Spokesman-Review, "Avondre Graham gets 10 years in Spokane River trail slaying", Kip Hill and Jody Lawrence-Turner, November 01, 2013

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