Early release approved for man who killed, raped Stanwood girl in 1997
STANWOOD — A Camano Island man convicted of killing and raping a 12-year-old Stanwood girl in 1997 can be released from prison decades early, a state panel ruled in a decision released publicly this week.
David Dodge was sentenced to 50 years for murdering Ashley Jones when she was 17.
But a state law passed since his conviction opened the door to his early release. People who received long sentences as juveniles in adult court can petition the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board for a hearing after they have served at least 20 years, among other things.
The law was part of a larger reform movement to provide more leniency in sentencing for young people whose brains are still developing. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that “children are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes.” That has led to several early releases for Snohomish County men convicted of murder as teenagers who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
One of those who appeared before the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board was Jeffrey Grote. Like Dodge, he was sentenced to 50 years for his role in a murder he participated in when he was 17. In April, the panel ruled that Grote should be freed almost three decades early for Everett’s murder.
On Dec. 19, the review board also ruled that Dodge, now 43, be released. The decision was released this week.
In 1997, Dodge was living in a group home in southern Snohomish County because of a burglary conviction. He ran away and went to a party in Stanwood, where he drank alcohol and smoked marijuana. He looked for a house to steal.
The 17-year-old found one with an open door. Inside, Ashley Jones, 12, was babysitting. When Dodge realized someone was in the house, he left and armed himself with a club.
He turned inside, hit Jones in the head and ran. He also sexually assaulted her. She died the next day.
Dodge pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree rape and three counts of burglary. He has now served about half of his half-century sentence.
In 2018, Dodge filed for parole. The parole board denied his request, ruling that he would be more likely than not to commit another offense if released. He also claimed that Dodge “appears to have downplayed his conduct on the night of the offence”.
The board recommended that he attend further programs to address his aggressive responses to criticism. He can apply for parole again in September 2023.
In early 2019, the Camano man appealed the decision. He asserted that the review board paid too much attention to public safety and did not apply the presumption of immunity contained in the new state law.
The Court of Appeal rejected his request.
But in a ruling nearly a year ago, the state Supreme Court agreed with some of his arguments. In a unanimous opinion, Judge Sheryl Gordon McCloud argued that the latest statute says the review board must start from the notion that the person should be released. The board is supposed to impose conditions that minimize the likelihood of reoffending before denying parole.
And considerations of public safety should not override that presumption of release, the court ruled. McCloud writes that the review board “abused its discretion.”
The decision opened the door to Dodge’s early release. Last month, he had another hearing before the parole board.
At the hearing, Dodge, who has been in custody at the Monroe Correctional Complex, reportedly took more responsibility for Jones’ murder than he had previously. He told the board that his previous minimization was to protect himself. He also expressed regret.
In the latest decision, the panel changed its mind from its earlier decision.
“The Board does not find by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Dodge is more likely than not to commit any new criminal law violations if paroled,” the ruling said.
The ruling notes that Dodge has completed several programs in prison to address his problem behaviors, including sex offender treatment and substance use disorder treatment, as well as programs to increase his problem-solving skills and frustration tolerance. . He also married a woman who lives in Pierce County.
After his release, he plans to live in transitional housing for a few months before moving in with his wife.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; [email protected]; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.