Daniel Threadgill was given an exceptional sentence of 40 years in prison Wednesday for the murder of a 28-year-old Des Moines woman in August 2010. While Threadgill maintains he is not guilty, a King County Superior Court judge called the slaying of Jennifer Walstrand "the most horrific and cruel case" she has seen in 12...

Share story

Jennifer Walstrand’s parents attended every day of her killer’s four-week trial, but spent most of their time in the hallway outside a courtroom at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Seeing graphic crime-scene photos and hearing testimony of how their daughter was stabbed more than 60 times and stomped so viciously that her teeth were knocked out was just too painful, said her father, Bruce Walstrand.

But Walstrand and his ex-wife, Lori Batinik, were in court Wednesday when King County Superior Court Judge Cheryl Carey handed down an exceptional sentence of 40 years in prison to a man who maintains he was wrongly convicted last month of killing the 28-year-old Des Moines woman in August 2010.

Daniel Threadgill — also known as “Midas” — tearfully told the judge of his Christian upbringing, his loving family and his infant son he has yet to hold. He acknowledged the pain of Walstrand’s family, saying he witnessed it every day during his trial.

“I’m sorry for their loss, but I did not kill Jennifer Walstrand,” Threadgill, 24, said. “… In the span of seven months, I was charged and convicted of a crime I did not commit.”

Though a number of Threadgill’s relatives traveled from the East Coast to attend the sentencing and spoke on his behalf, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom said: “There is something in Daniel Threadgill his family hasn’t seen — something brutal, something evil, something violent.”

Threadgill, who has no criminal history, was convicted Feb. 7 of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon. The jury also found that the crime was committed with “deliberate cruelty,” an aggravating factor that enabled the judge to impose a sentence above the standard range of 20 to almost 27 years. The defense had asked Carey to sentence Threadgill to 22 years in prison.

Carey noted that Threadgill didn’t know Walstrand and attacked her in her home.

The jury heard that Walstrand was killed at the behest of Araya McMillon, a prostitute who lived in a town house next door to Walstrand. McMillon was jealous of the money Walstrand made as a high-end escort and angry that Walstrand had ratted her out to their pimp, which resulted in a beating, and had made comments to their landlord that prompted him to begin eviction proceedings against McMillon.

McMillon struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. She testified against Threadgill and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Walstrand pleaded for her life after being stabbed up to 75 times in the neck, face, head, arms and back, Carey said.

“The defendant didn’t stop there. … He proceeded to jump up and down, stomping on her head. He fractured her jaw and knocked out her teeth, including some found in her own pool of blood,” the judge said. “In 12 years on the bench, this is the most horrific and cruel case I have ever seen.”

Before sentencing, Bruce Walstrand said his daughter was making changes in her life that made him hopeful she would eventually quit the escort business. She’d given up walking the track as a prostitute, kicked her addictions to drugs and alcohol and had given up smoking cigarettes. She was working out daily and was halfway to earning a business degree from Highline Community College when she was killed.

“It’s just ridiculous. She was killed pretty much for no reason. Someone was jealous of her,” Walstrand said.

“… She was doing great at Highline. Everybody loved Jennifer,” he said. “Who knows what she could’ve done? She would’ve been great one day.”

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com