Prosecutors won’t seek death penalty for Chen in First Hill murders

The King County Prosector’s office Monday announced that it will not seek the death penalty against Louis Chen, the First Hill doctor accused of murdering his partner and their 2-year-old son in a bloody August attack. Earlier this month, CHS reported that Chen was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is competent to face trial. The results of that evaluation were expected to be presented in court in December.

We asked the prosecutor’s office to clarify about the status of the competency process but a spokesperson would only confirm that the hearing is still upcoming. “We are at the start of a criminal prosecution and we’re preparing the case for trial. Therefore, we cannot elaborate on today’s decision.” 

Here’s the full statement from Dan Satterberg’s team:

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced today that he will seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release and will not be filing a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in the case of State v. Louis Chen. Chen is charged with two counts of Aggravated Murder in the First Degree for the stabbing deaths of his partner, Eric Cooper, and their 2-year-old son Cooper Chen.

When the crime of Aggravated Murder in the First Degree is charged, Washington State’s capital punishment statute requires the Prosecuting Attorney to make a decision about whether or not the option of the death penalty should be presented to a future jury. In making this decision, the Prosecuting Attorney must consider any and all relevant mitigating factors that would necessitate not seeking the death penalty
Under the law, a capital case jury is asked the following question once they have rendered a verdict of guilty in the crime charged: “Having in mind the crime of which the defendant has been found guilty, are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that there are not sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency?”

In order to return an affirmative answer to the question posed by this subsection, the jury must so find unanimously.
After careful consideration of this case, Satterberg decided that the case is not appropriate for the death penalty under the statute. The only other punishment for Aggravated Murder is life in prison without the possibility of release. We will pursue a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release in this case.
Chen is scheduled for a case setting hearing on December 8 at 1 p.m. at the King County Courthouse. 
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2 thoughts on “Prosecutors won’t seek death penalty for Chen in First Hill murders

  1. Researchers from Texas A&M University–Texarkana and Loyola University New Orleans discovered that neither race nor severity of the crime were reliable predictors of who gets the death penalty.

    What is? Education level. Convicts with the lowest levels of education are most likely to be executed.

    Based on that correlation, the researchers designed an algorithm that predicts which death row inmates are most likely to be executed with 92% accuracy. Given Chen’s MD, I suspect the program would have correctly anticipated today’s announcement.