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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 47
No death penalty for Chen
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No death penalty for Chen

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Louis Chen, the First Hill physician who police say killed his partner Eric Cooper and their 2-year-old son Cooper Chen earlier this year, will not face the death penalty.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced November 21 that he would seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release if Chen is convicted.

Chen has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree for the deaths of Eric and Cooper.

'When the crime of Aggravated Murder in the First Degree is charged, Washington state's capital punishment statute requires the prosecuting attorney to make a decision about whether or not the option of the death penalty should be presented to a future jury,' said Dan Donohoe, a spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor's Office. 'In making this decision, the prosecuting attorney must consider any and all relevant mitigating factors that would necessitate not seeking the death penalty.'

Under the law, a capital case jury is asked the following question once they have rendered a verdict of guilty in the crime charged: 'Having in mind the crime of which the defendant has been found guilty, are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that there are not sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency?'

In order to return an affirmative answer to the question posed by this subsection, the jury must so find unanimously, said Donohoe.

'After careful consideration of this case, Satterberg decided that the case is not appropriate for the death penalty under the statute,' Donohoe continued. 'The only other punishment for Aggravated Murder is life in prison without the possibility of release. We will pursue a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release in this case.'

Chen's attorneys had previously said they were confident the death penalty wouldn't be sought.

'We do believe there's a great deal of information that will be mitigating in this case,' defense attorney Todd Maybrown said in an August court hearing, adding that the defense team will 'show there is no basis for a death penalty' against Chen.

Chen is scheduled for a case setting hearing on December 8 at the King County Courthouse.

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