Share story

A Shoreline woman who fatally stabbed her longterm boyfriend and then fled with their two young daughters, triggering an Amber Alert, was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison.

Doreen Starrish, 29, apologized to her victim’s family and her own relatives at the sentencing hearing in King County Superior Court.

“I never meant for any of this to happen,” she said tearfully. “I’m really, really sorry.”

Starrish was convicted by a jury last month of second-degree murder with a deadly weapon and heroin possession in the slaying of Aaron C. Smith, 27.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

According to court documents, sheriff’s deputies were called to the family’s home in the 1500 block of Northeast 190th Street on May 3, 2012. Friends who were at the home that night told investigators the couple had been arguing for several hours when Smith was stabbed.

After stabbing Smith, Starrish fled with the couple’s two daughters, who were 7 and 3 at the time, according to charging papers.

An Amber Alert was issued for the children. That night, Seattle police received a phone call from Smith’s brother, saying the children had been dropped off at their great-grandmother’s house.

Prosecutors said in the charging document, and in court on Friday, that the argument was sparked when Smith tried to prevent Starrish from leaving the house with the children because she was intoxicated and high on heroin.

Starrish’s attorney, Robert Perez, had argued at trial that Starrish was a battered woman acting in self-defense when she stabbed Smith. He asked Superior Court Judge Mary Yu for a sentence lower than the standard range of 14 to 22 years in prison.

The couple had a history of violence and abuse that included a misdemeanor assault charge against Smith and a domestic-violence-protection order barring him from contacting Starrish that was in effect at the time of the slaying.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom said there was no question there was violence and abuse in the relationship, but said it was perpetrated by both parties.

Yu agreed the relationship was violent and said the couple had “one of the most dysfunctional families” she’d seen before the court.

Yu said she recognized that Starrish had endured difficulties in her life that “might explain some of the choices she made along the way, but it’s not an excuse.”

Christine Clarridge can be reached at or at 206-464-8983. Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.