Brother Thompson is back in court. For a complete story look at this link,
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Paroled rapist faces new charges
5 years after release, he stands accused in assaults, slaying
By LEVI PULKKINEN
When he was freed from prison five years ago, there was little dispute that convicted rapist Curtis Thompson was being released without participating in sex offender treatment.
Thompson, now 49, had been sentenced to an 18-year term in 1985 after being convicted of raping four Seattle women. His method then -- and, prosecutors say, now -- was a strong-arm break-in followed by sexual assault.
Less than a year after a King County jury voted unanimously to release him from state custody, Thompson was back in jail and accused of accosting two women at a University District apartment building in an attack reminiscent of the 1985 rapes. His trial in that assault is scheduled to begin Wednesday.
According to prosecutors, Thompson cornered two women at the elevator of the apartment building while attempting to follow them to an apartment. During the attack, Thompson dragged the women into the elevator, beating them and blocking the door as he attempted to sexually assault them.
Thompson, who faces a first-degree murder charge in a separate incident, used "absolute brutal force" to subdue the women and incapacitate an elderly man who'd come to their aid, one of the women said at a deposition earlier this month.
"It was like a horror movie," the woman said, describing being forced into an apartment elevator by Thompson. "He seemed like he had a plan."
Thompson on Wednesday faces 11 criminal counts, including second-degree assault and indecent liberties. He's also been charged with first-degree rape in an earlier attack when prosecutors say he broke into a woman's apartment in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood and raped her.
But those assaults pale in comparison to the third incident, in which Thompson is accused -- the murder of Deborah Byars.
Prosecutors say Byars, a mother of two, was stabbed to death by Thompson in her apartment hours before he accosted the other two women.
According to court documents, Byars was stabbed in her Ravenna neighborhood home with a screwdriver and found days later. Hours after that attack, police said, Thompson attempted to break into the U District apartment.
Thompson is set to be tried in Byars' death after separate trials in the U District assaults and the Eastlake rape.
Facing the prospect that he would be released in 2003, King County prosecutors filed a civil suit in an attempt to confine Thompson indefinitely under the state's violent sexual predator law. Thompson refused sex offender treatment while in prison, bolstering, it seemed, their case to have him institutionalized.
Though convicted of four rapes and a fifth attempted rape in the 1985, Thompson told prison officials he'd committed as many as 200 burglaries and seven other rapes, according to court documents.
Jurors, however, took a different view during the hearing on whether Thompson should be institutionalized, finding that Thompson had served his sentence and deserved a second chance. Over the objections of prosecutors and therapists who had evaluated Thompson, jurors chose to release him after hearing claims that his newfound Jehovah's Witnesses faith had helped him reform his life.
At the time, Seattle police Detective Robert Shilling didn't share the jury's confidence in Thompson.
"Certainly, he is a risk to reoffend," Shilling said at the time. "But that doesn't mean he will."
He did reoffend, according to prosecutors, just 10 months after being freed, during the spree in August 2004.
Since his arrest, Thompson's trials have been delayed, in large part, because of his bad behavior in court.
Jail guards have pulled him from court on numerous occasions for threatening attorneys and judges, or attempting to flee. On one occasion, he was dragged from court with a bleeding cut suffered after guards pulled him to the ground. He's frequently appeared in court tied to a restraint chair since then, and it's unclear if he'll be allowed to attend his own trials to defend the charges against him.
A state psychologist found that Thompson, though slightly paranoid and "likely to be very challenging to have as a client," appeared competent to stand trial.
Jury selection began Monday in the first of Thompson's trials.
King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe said his trial in the Eastlake rape is scheduled to start in November; his trial in the murder of Deborah Byars is slated to begin early next year.
P-I reporter Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or email@example.com.
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