Mailer sets out to discredit Mitchell's representation of convicted killer

Islanders received an oversized election mailer in their mailboxes on Tuesday about the fact that  fellow Islander and candidate for the King County Council, Richard Mitchell, had represented a convicted murderer in a bid for clemency.

Shirley Wang, whose husband, Paul, was fatally shot and stabbed during a 1987 robbery, told  voters in an emotional GOP-funded mailer, not to vote for Mitchell.

Last year, Mitchell spoke for the convicted man, Barry Massey, in a plea for clemency for his role in a brutal murder committed when he was 13. Massey, one of two men convicted for the crime, is now 38. He has been in jail for 24 years.

According to an account in the Seattle Times, the Washington State Republican Party reported the mailing as an in-kind contribution to Councilmember Jane Hague's re-election campaign.

Mitchell was part of the legal team that asked the state Clemency and Pardons Board to recommend that Gov. Chris Gregoire commute the sentence of Massey.

"My heart goes out to the Wang family for their tragic loss," Mitchell said in a statement last week. "I represented Barry Massey, who at the time of the crime was 13 years old and developmentally delayed, with a mental age of 9.9, because he was one of the youngest children in our nation's history to be convicted and sentenced as an adult.

"Mitchell said the Republican mailer "regrettably exploits the Wang family's tragic loss for political gain, and disregards that our justice system depends on counsel coming forward to represent both the victims and those accused or convicted." Mitchell said he "would never" seek clemency for Michael Harris, the other convicted killer, who was 15 at the time of the murder, "because the evidence suggested that Harris was principally responsible for the murder." Mitchell was general counsel to Gregoire in 2007 when she refused to free Massey after the clemency board recommended he be released.


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