Murder conviction appealed to state Supreme Court

Allison Arthur aarthur@ptleader.com
Posted 1/10/17

A decision by the state Court of Appeals upholding Michael J. Pierce’s 2014 conviction for the murders of Janice and Patrick Yarr in Quilcene in 2009 is headed to the state Supreme …

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Murder conviction appealed to state Supreme Court

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A decision by the state Court of Appeals upholding Michael J. Pierce’s 2014 conviction for the murders of Janice and Patrick Yarr in Quilcene in 2009 is headed to the state Supreme Court.

Court-appointed defense attorney Catherine E. Glinski on Jan. 9 asked the high court for a discretionary review of the Court of Appeals, Division 2 decision from Dec. 6, 2016, that upheld the conviction.

Questions that Glinski is asking the court to review include:

• Whether a defense motion to dismiss the case should have been granted after it was revealed that psychotropic medications had been discontinued while Pierce was on trial in Kitsap County.

• Whether a jailhouse informant’s referral to a prior appeal of Pierce in the murder case could be prejudicial.

• Whether the admission of evidence that Pierce had committed a crime unrelated to the murder charge allowed the jury to convict him and deny him a fair trial.

• Whether the court’s refusal of a proposed defense instruction cautioning the jury on the use of informant testimony denied Pierce the right to a fair trial.

The 19-page request by Glinski concludes by asking the state’s high court to review and reverse Pierce’s conviction.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised Mr. Pierce decided to seek further review of the Court of Appeal’s decision affirming Pierce’s convictions for the murders of Mr. and Mrs. Yarr,” Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haas wrote in an email comment Jan. 9. He said a petition would be filed requesting that the state Supreme Court deny further review.

Glinski has consistently declined to comment on the case. The causes for reversal she outlined in her petition are similar to the causes she used that were turned down by the court of appeals in December.

Pierce had been found guilty in 2010 of the murders of the Yarrs as well as first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson, theft of a firearm, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree theft in the March 18, 2009 deaths of the Yarrs in their home north of Quilcene.

A second trial ended in July 2013 with a change-of-venue request to move the trial to Kitsap County. A third trial in March 2014 ended in a mistrial. A fourth trial was started, and Pierce was found guilty on Nov. 12, 2014 in the deaths of the Yarrs.

Pierce remains incarcerated at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

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