Judge in Madison Valley murder trial shuts down courtroom Zoom feed

The King County Superior Court judge presiding over the Devan Schmidt murder trial is struggling with the challenges of COVID-19 and Zoom video calls.

CHS reported here on the start of the trial last week some six years after police and prosecutors say the 29-year-old Madison Valley woman was raped and murdered in her home after a night of partying.

The Seattle legal proceedings, already delayed by COVID-19 restrictions and the decision by defendant Eric Sims to waive his right to a jury and put his trial in the hands of Judge Johanna Bender, now have a new wrinkle with an order earlier this week from Bender shutting down a Zoom videoconference feed from the courtroom.

“The Court’s experiment in allowing remote access has not been successful; it has led to significant concerns about the integrity of the trial process,” Bender writes.

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Design review: Set of twin four-story buildings will add four apartment units, new retail to Madison Valley

A mixed-use townhouse-style development small enough to avoid the city’s public design review process but big enough to fill a Madison Valley parking lot is moving forward.

The city is conducting an “administrative review” of design plans for a proposed project to build a set of small apartment buildings in the surface parking lot outside the neighborhood’s popular Cafe Flora restaurant. Continue reading

Six years after Madison Valley woman’s death, trial begins in Devan Schmidt murder case

The trial in the 2015 assault and murder of a Madison Valley woman is beginning this week with the lawyer for the the man accused of the crime presenting a defense that blames the victim’s mental health and a roommate for the woman’s death.

Eric Sims, 48, has waived his right to a jury trial and put the decision on the murder and sexual assault charges against him in the hands of a King County Superior Court judge.

This week’s start of proceedings will represent a long anticipated milestone for the family of Devan Schmidt who waited five years after her death for an arrest in the case. Continue reading

Woman rushed to hospital from Madison Valley apartment one of two county deaths on day of record heat — UPDATE

A woman living in a Madison Valley apartment was among two people reported dead across King County as a result of Monday’s record heat. UPDATE: County officials say they recorded 13 total heat-related deaths during the run of extreme temperatures.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the 65-year-old woman’s Monday night death an accident due to hyperthermia, or death due to extremely elevated body temperature.

Seattle Fire says it responded to the 25th Ave E apartment building just after 10:30 PM Monday night to a report of two people inside a unit suffering medical emergencies. SFD says it transported a male in his 40s in stable condition and a woman in her 60s in critical condition to Harborview.

The Seattle Times reports there were two confirmed deaths due to heat Monday.

Seattle set a new record high Monday as the official temperature reached 108 F, its third day of 100-degree temperatures before coastal cooling finally arrived.


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Remember that mixed-use apartment and PCC development in Madison Valley? Developers score big hearing examiner win — UPDATE

(Image: City People’s)

The epic five-year battle from a group of neighbors and slow growth advocates to stop a mixed-use apartment and grocery development in Madison Valley on the property home to the City People’s garden shop has ended in defeat at the city level.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner last week denied an appeal against permitting the project from the Save Madison Valley, overturning its previous decision siding with the neighborhood group that the development’s environmental review didn’t adequately address climate change.

The Tales from the Seattle Hearing Examiner account on Twitter was the first to report the latest twist in the long fight which could now move to the courts — though that fight would be much more expensive to mount.

CHS last reported in 2019 on the plans for the mixed-use development from Velmeir Companies along E Madison with a PCC grocery as its street-level anchor. Continue reading

Thanks, Mayor Pete: E Madison bus rapid transit project gets $60M in federal funding — Here’s a block by block look at the planned changes to the street

Mayor Pete has come through. Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $187 million in federal funding for four bus rapid transit projects — San Bernardino, California, Ogden, Utah, Everett, Washington, and right here on E Madison in Seattle:

The City of Seattle Department of Transportation will receive a $59.9 million allocation for the Madison Street BRT project, a 2.3-mile east-west BRT line operating diesel-electric buses along Madison Street spanning from downtown Seattle in the west to the Madison Valley neighborhood in the east, with connections in First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the Central Area. It will connect people to hospitals, schools, businesses, and other destinations as well as to dozens of bus routes, the First Hill Streetcar, and ferry service at the Colman Dock Ferry Terminal.

The federal money helps put the $134 million Madison bus rapid transit project on path for its planned 2024 start of service of the Metro RapidRide G line, a 2.3-mile, 10-station route connecting the waterfront through First Hill and Capitol Hill to Madison Valley.

The final designs for the BRT route’s major overhaul to the Madison corridor’s streetscape were finalized last year. You can check out a block by block look at the changes below.

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911 | Thieves make off with reported $5K in merchandise in Madison Valley luxury consignment shop heist

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS 911 coverage here. Hear sirens and wondering what’s going on? Check out Twitter reports from @jseattle or tune into the CHS Scanner page.

  • Purse heist: A Thursday afternoon heist at a Madison Valley luxury consignment shop netted a team of thieves thousands of dollars in merchandise. According to the SPD report on the ripoff, a group of three males entered the Refind store in the 3100 block of E Madison just before 3 PM and told an employee they were “just browsing” as they began picking up items off the shelves. The employee said she asked, “Can I help you find something?” “Yes,” one of the males replied as he grabbed more items and the three ran for the door, according to the report. The store employee managed to head off one of the trio and grab a jacket but was smashed in the face as she struggled with the thief. The employee “grabbed the pants of the suspect as he was trying to get up and he picked up one of the gucci handbags he had dropped and turned around and slapped [the woman] in the face with it,” police write. The three bandits were reported fleeing the area in an old Chevy sedan last seen speeding from the area. According to police, the thieves targeted Gucci purses and Chanel clothing in the heist. The employee did not suffer serious injuries. A search for the suspects was not successful. Police say the reported value of the items stolen is more than $5,000. Continue reading

Police: Child dies after thrown from parked van in Madison Valley collision

Police believe a young child was playing inside a family van parked in front of a Madison Valley home when the three-year-old was thrown from the vehicle and killed Sunday afternoon after its was struck by a driver in a FedEx delivery truck.

Police say they and Seattle Fire were called to the scene just off MLK just before 4:45 PM and found a young child believed to be around 3 years old who had suffered a major head injury in the crash. The responders attempted CPR but the child died at the scene, SPD says.

SPD detectives believe the driver of the FedEx truck struck the parked van the child had been playing in.

“When the collision occurred the child was thrown from the vehicle,” the SPD brief on the terrible incident reads.

A neighbor said the large delivery-style van was regularly parked in front of the house. It could be seen pushed partially into a driveway Sunday following the crash, its sliding door still open as Seattle Police and Seattle Fire waited at the scene.

Police say a drug recognition expert tested the FedEx driver but did not find signs of impairment.


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Quick arrest after man stabbed in Madison Valley

Seattle Police took one person into custody after a man was stabbed in the back outside the Bailey-Boushay House care facility at E Madison and MLK early Thursday.

Seattle Fire and SPD were called to the scene around 6:15 AM to the reported stabbing by a known individual. The victim was treated at the scene outside the facility and rushed to the hospital. We don’t have further details on the victim’s condition.

Police located the suspect at his tent in a nearby park where he was taken into custody without incident.

In case revived by true crime show, man accused of murder in 2015 death of Devan Schmidt pleads not guilty

Schmidt’s friends and family watched via videoconference due to COVID-19 restrictions

The man accused of murdering Devan Schmidt pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in an emotion-packed hearing that comes more than five years after the 29-year-old woman’s death.

Eric Sims was taken into custody and charged with second degree murder late last month in a sudden whirlwind of activity in the case after the 47-year-old agreed to provide a sample that investigators say matched DNA found on the victim.

CHS reported on Schmidt’s death and inconclusive findings from the medical examiner that left her case in a sad limbo for years as her family pushed for the investigation and justice.

Thursday morning, Sims cried out and tried to leave King County Superior Court Judge Patrick Oishi’s courtroom as Schmidt’s sister made a statement against a bid to lower Sims’ bail from $2 million to $50,000. Addressing the courtroom via video as an advocate carried her laptop near the bench so Judge Oishi could better see and hear, “Please keep Mr. Sims here,” Lia Kendall said, “so that I, my mother, and my children can just sleep a little more comfortably tonight.” Continue reading