Michael Chadd Boysen entered an Alford plea in King County Superior Court on Friday to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for strangling his grandparents in their Renton home on March 9, a day after he was released from prison.
With his hands chained to his waist, the 27-year-old said he understood that he faces back-to-back life sentences without the possibility of release. He stood before Judge Douglass North and said: “I plead guilty.”
In an Alford plea, a defendant concedes there is sufficient evidence to support a conviction, but they are not directly acknowledging guilt.
In Boysen’s case, he took responsibility for the deaths without agreeing that he acted with premeditation. He also disagreed that the murders were part of a common scheme or plan.
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Premeditation and a common scheme or plan are among the elements that make aggravated first-degree murder a more serious offense than first-degree murder.
In a written statement that was read aloud by Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip, Boysen said he doesn’t recall the specific circumstances of the slayings of Norma and Robert Taylor, but he’s truly remorseful and doesn’t want to put his family through the trauma of a trial.
Boysen is to be sentenced Oct. 18. Prosecutors had decided in August not to seek the death penalty.
Defense attorney James Conroy, who represented Boysen along with Scott Ketterling, said Boysen decided to change his plea against the advice of counsel.
“We, as his counsel, have advised him not to go forward with this plea,” Conroy told the judge, adding that the defense was building a good case to take to trial.
Outside the courtroom, Conroy said he wonders if Boysen’s frustration with conditions inside the jail influenced his decision to change his plea. Boysen, who his attorneys say has repeatedly harmed himself and tried to commit suicide, has spent much of his time inside the jail tied to either a hard plastic restraint board or a restraint bed.
They are “abhorrent practices I haven’t dealt with before this case,” said Conroy, who had filed motions seeking the judge intervene in how Boysen was treated while in the jail. Noting that Boysen was once strapped to a restraint bed for 10 hours, Conroy said “I’m surprised in this era that it’s still used in the King County Jail … It’s inhumane.”
Boysen’s mother and two aunts attended Friday’s hearing.
“I love you, Chadd,” his mother, Melanie Taylor, whispered as he was led from the courtroom.
Outside the court, she said: “All I can say is his soul is at peace today. I’m going to continue to support him.”
Boysen was released from the Monroe Correctional Complex on March 8 after serving nine months of a 16-month sentence for attempted burglary.
His grandparents, Robert Taylor, 82, and Norma Taylor, 80, picked him up from prison that morning and spent the day with him running errands. That night, they hosted a welcome-home party celebrating his return.
According to charging documents, he was supposed to spend the night there and be picked up at noon the next day by his paternal aunt. When she arrived, however, there was no answer at the door. The woman said she called Boysen’s sister to tell her, and then left.
A few hours later, Melanie Taylor — the couple’s daughter and Boysen’s adoptive mother — let herself into the home with a key. She noticed her parents’ red 2001 Chrysler 300 was missing, as was her mother’s cellphone, according to the papers. The documents note that Norma Taylor was deaf and used her phone to communicate through text messages.
“After spending some time in the house waiting,” the charges say, Melanie Taylor “decided to look around” and noticed the unmade bed in the spare room where her son was supposed to have spent the night. Not long afterward, she found her parents dead in the room’s closet, according to the court documents.
Police said they had been strangled with a shoelace.
According to charging papers, Boysen stole their car, at least $5,200 in cash, sterling silverware and a significant amount of jewelry from the home, including his grandfather’s wedding ring.
Police say he pawned the jewelry in Kent and used his grandfather’s credit card at a nearby Fred Meyer to buy electronics, CDs, a suitcase and other items.
On March 10, Boysen dumped his grandparents’ car in Salem, Ore., bought another car with cash and checked into a motel in Lincoln City, according to the charges.
Two days later, a clerk at the motel recognized Boysen, who by then was the focus of a multistate manhunt. He was arrested after a standoff and booked into jail after being treated for self-inflicted cuts that nearly killed him.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org