Fourth delay for Giles murder trial
It is the fourth time that the trial date has been rescheduled for Danny Ross Giles since he was charged in 2012 with the pair of Snohomish County "cold case" killings.
The move Thursday reflects the complexity of the case, which relies on genetic evidence and still-unfolding detective work into crimes that occurred 18 years ago, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Millie Judge was told.
Giles' attorney, seasoned public defender Neal Friedman, said that more time is needed to prepare.
The case files include more than 11,500 pages of police reports and other records, deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said. "I've been doing this more than 20 years and this is the most involved case I've worked on," Matheson said.
Giles, 45, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Snohomish County prosecutors say DNA test results and other evidence connect him to the July 1995 stabbing death of Patti Berry and the May 1995 disappearance of Tracey Brazzel. Giles has pleaded not guilty.
He's been in the Snohomish County Jail, held on $4 million bail. Previously, he was at the the state's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island after King County prosecutors petitioned to have him declared a sexually violent predator.
Giles' criminal record includes the 1987 rape of a woman attacked while she was in a tanning bed, plus peeping and other crimes against women and girls, starting in his teens. He became a suspect in the 1995 killings when tests determined his DNA allegedly was mixed with Berry's on the steering wheel of the car she was driving the night of her killing. The suspicions became public in May 2011 when search warrants were filed to gather additional genetic evidence.
By then, the state's Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board already had decided public safety was best served by ordering Giles to serve every day of a maximum six-year prison sentence for exposing himself to two college-aged women near the University of Washington in 2005. He went straight from serving that sentence to detention at McNeil Island on the sex predator case. The civil action was dismissed after the Snohomish County murder charges were filed.
That means Giles has been locked up since July 2011 awaiting resolution of the cases against him.
In court Thursday, the judge questioned him to make certain that Giles was once again waiving his right to a speedy trial.
"My speedy trial has already been exceeded," Giles said. He made clear, though, that he was signing paperwork in support of the continuance.
The judge scheduled Giles' trial for Dec. 27, but at the lawyers' request set a hearing date for a few weeks earlier. Friedman said he hopes by then to have a better idea of when the case actually will be ready to take before a jury.
The December date is unlikely, the judge was told.
Brazzel's body has never been found, meaning that to convict Giles, a jury must first be convinced her absence of nearly two decades is evidence of death. She was 22 when she disappeared. The last sighting was at Kodiak Ron's, a pub which was then located at the intersection of Highway 99 and Airport Road. Berry, 26, was spotted at a convenience store in the same block the night she was killed, a few months later.
Giles was dodging arrest warrants for a theft in King County in 1995, and wasn't a suspect in either case. Detectives say they've since found witnesses who say he frequented the pub and worked in the area.
Investigators began focusing on him after genetic material from the scene of Berry's killing was matched to a DNA sample he had provided when sent to prison in 2005. The statistical probability of a random match was calculated at 1 in 580 million, according to court papers.
Tests in 2010 of blood droplets found on the outside of Brazzel's car also were linked to Giles, court papers show. In those tests, the statistical probability of a random DNA match was calculated at 1 in 56 quadrillion.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org
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