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Cross pleads guilty to murder

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SEATTLE _ Davya Cross will not go on trial for the stabbing deaths

of three Snoqualmie residents after telling a King County Superior

Court judge Monday he would plead guilty to three counts of first-degree

aggravated murder because he felt "responsible" for what happened.

In a document prepared for Judge Joan DuBuque, Cross, 41,

submitted "Alford pleas" to the three

murder counts and one count of first-degree kidnapping with a deadly

weapon. Under an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty to a charge because

there is enough evidence for a jury to convict the defendant.

"Like I said all along, I want to take responsibility for these crimes,"

Cross told DuBuque inside a courtroom at the King County Courthouse in

Seattle. However, he maintains the murders were not premeditated and he

has difficulty recalling exactly what took place the day of the murders.

DuBuque accepted Cross's pleas, saying his decision was

"voluntary" and he understood the

consequences of his pleading guilty.

"I am satisfied that he fully and completely and thoroughly

understands the seriousness of these circumstances," she said.

Despite the pleas, prosecutors will continue to seek the death penalty

for Cross, who they say intentionally stabbed and killed Amanda

Baldwin, 15, Salome Holly, 18, and their mother, Anouchka Baldwin, 37,

with a butcher knife on March 6, 1999, at their home on Southeast Reinig

Road. Cross also reportedly kidnapped Mellissa Baldwin, 14, and

threatened to harm her with the knife. He said another reason for his guilty pleas

was to save Mellissa Baldwin from having to testify in court.

"She's the one that suffered the most through all of this," he said.

Cross pleaded guilty to the charges against the advice of his

attorneys, Mark Larranaga and Richard Warner. Larranaga and Warner were

prepared to mount an insanity defense for a jury trial based on mental-health

evaluations performed by several experts.

By agreeing to the plea, Cross gave up his rights to have the charges

affirmed or denied by a jury. He also gave up his rights to be convicted

of lesser-included charges, which could have reduced his time in prison, if

convicted.

Instead, a jury impaneled for a sentencing hearing will have only

two options in deciding Cross's fate: life in prison, or the death penalty.

During a break, Larranaga said Cross's Alford plea was the first

in Washington for a case of this nature. Alford pleas are typically used

during plea bargains with prosecutors and defendants. During the

hearing, DuBuque agreed that the case was breaking new ground.

"We keep charting new territory in this case," she said, adding, "In

this particular case, there is no plea bargain, so it is a different and

unique circumstance."

DuBuque spent most of Monday peppering Cross — whose only

other conviction came on a 1989 recklessly endangering misdemeanor charge

in Clinton County, Penn. — with questions about his guilty pleas to the

murder and kidnapping charges, which he mostly answered either "yes" or "no."

At times Cross appeared nonchalant about the hearing, humming

to himself as he was led out of the courtroom during an afternoon break

and rolling his head back and forth as DuBuque asked him questions.

He also showed his disdain for the prosecuting attorneys, Don Raz and

Tim Bradshaw, calling them "Bert and Ernie" and "faggots."

DuBuque first asked him about his current mental state and whether

any of the medications he is taking, including antibiotics and

antidepressants, influenced his decision to plead

guilty. Cross said they hadn't, although when DuBuque asked him if he was

under the influence of any illicit drugs, he said, "I wish I was."

He told the judge he has wanted to plead guilty for "the past year and

a half," and when questioned, he said he knew of no benefit he would

receive for his pleas.

"I don't see how I'd have an advantage," he said. "I'm not looking

for a benefit."

Before Monday's hearing, prosecutors and defense lawyers were

busy narrowing down a large jury pool to decide the guilt phase of Cross's

case. But instead of deciding his guilt or innocence, a jury, which has yet to

be selected, will determine whether Cross should face life in prison without

the possibility of parole or receive the death penalty.

At the sentencing hearing, both sides will have the opportunity

to present evidence and call witnesses. A date for the hearing has not

been set.

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