Friday, December 17, 2004
For the second time, former Sunnyside resident Mark Greer has been convicted of the shooting death of his step-father, Stephen Graves.
Greer was re-tried after the State Supreme Court made a decision that cleared up some confusion about the requirements to charge a suspect with felony murder, according to Sunnyside Police Capt. Phil Schenck. Under the Supreme Court's decision, someone who kills a person in the process of an assault can't be convicted of felony murder. Later, the legislature said its intentions were that, in fact, assault would fall under the felony murder statute.
Intentional murder, said Schenck, is when someone harms another person with intent to kill them. Felony murder, on the other hand, is when someone is killed during the commission of a felony or when trying to flee a crime scene.
Graves was killed Sept. 13, 2000, from a close-range blast from a shotgun to the back of the head. Graves was sleeping in his bed at the time he was killed.
Initially, police believed Graves had been bludgeoned to death.
Greer and his friend, Jonathan Hill, were arrested shortly after the death of Graves.
In the first trial, Greer pointed the finger at Hill as the assailant. He indicated that the shooting was about drugs and was a dare.
Greer was initially sentenced to serve 23 years on second degree felony murder charges. Most recently, he was charged with first degree murder and the jury came back with a lesser charge, convicting Greer of first degree manslaughter, according to Prosecuting Attorney Bob Northcott. Greer was sentenced to 12 years in prison the second time around, nine years less than originally sentenced.
"After a period of over four years memories fade," said Northcott. "Witnesses and victims were more forgiving."
He said that the victim's wife, who is also the mother of Greer, pled for leniency for her son, which came across differently than the first time the case was tried. A different judge presided who saw the facts of the case differently, Northcott added.
"I had no doubt in my mind he (Greer) was the person who put this event in motion," said Northcott.
In Greer's testimony in the second trial, he pointed the finger at Hill as the person who pulled the trigger.
"The police and myself believe Greer had the motive," Northcott added.
. Melissa Dekker can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org