Timothy Pauley, convicted of killing three people in a SeaTac-area tavern in 1980, must serve more than two additional decades. A state parole board decided his original sentence is too lax by today’s standards.
A state parole board has not only denied murderer Timothy Pauley’s request for early release, but added more than two decades to his sentence.
As a result, Pauley, 56, won’t be eligible for parole until 2031 for his role in three murders at a SeaTac-area tavern in 1980, according to the decision issued this week by the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board, an arm of the state Department of Corrections.
“Mr. Pauley’s role in the murders was egregious,” according to a statement released by the board. “He had the gun and was responsible for shooting the male victims to death despite the fact that they were already tied up in the cooler and posed no threat to Mr. Pauley or his co-defendant.”
The additional time was added due to the egregiousness of the crimes and to bring his sentence into alignment with sentences meted out today for people convicted of comparable crimes, the review board said.
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Pauley had hoped to convince the board that his behavior behind bars over the past 35 years should earn him an early release from prison. If the board had agreed, Pauley could have been freed as early as February 2018.
But his early release was opposed by relatives of the victims, as well as King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Congressman Dave Reichert — who as a King County sheriff’s detective investigated the murders.
Pauley was 21 when he and Scott C. Smith killed three people at the Barn Door Tavern on June 12, 1980.
Slain were night manager Loran Dowell; bartender Robert Pierre; and Linda Burford, Pierre’s girlfriend and a former waitress. Burford was raped and left hanging by her neck from a railing, while Dowell and Pierre were tied up in the tavern’s walk-in cooler and shot in the head, authorities said.
Two other women were choked with electrical cords and left for dead in the women’s restroom, but they survived.
While in prison, Pauley has been a relatively trouble-free inmate. He has regularly worked, attended school, mentored other inmates and participated in religious activities, according to testimony during a board hearing in January.
Under state law, the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board sets a minimum sentence for offenders ordered to prison before July 1, 1984, when Washington overhauled its criminal-sentencing system.
Pauley was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, and sentences for two of the counts are to run consecutively. When he was sentenced, the trial judge did not make a recommendation as to a minimum term.
Pauley entered prison in 1981, and with time off his sentence for good behavior, finished serving his first murder term in 1999, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
He is now serving the consecutive sentences for the other two counts.
Smith, Pauley’s co-defendant, was sentenced to five life terms after being convicted of three murder counts and two assault counts. He is not being considered for early release.
During the January board hearing at the Monroe Correctional Complex, Pauley apologized and blamed drugs, alcohol and depression for the murders. He said he made an impulse decision to shoot the two men in the cooler, but fingered his accomplice, Smith, for the third murder.
In its ruling this week, the board noted Pauley, when asked why he shot the victims who were already tied up, indicated he “panicked.”
Angie Dowell, whose father was killed and mother left for dead in the tavern, was among those opposed to Pauley’s early release. She attended Tuesday’s hearing but was not allowed to speak.
“I realize 35 years is a long time,” she said after the January hearing. “It wasn’t long enough.”
Dowell said Pauley failed to take “full responsibility” for the killings, instead offering scant details of what transpired inside the Barn Door Tavern and claiming a panicked decision led to the murders.