Assocaited France Press (AP) 29/4/2006
Wash. Teen Convicted of Killing Playmate
EPHRATA, Wash. -- A jury convicted a 15-year-old boy of first-degree murder Friday for a brutal attack on a developmentally disabled playmate more than three years ago.
Evan Savoie faces 20 to 26 years in prison for the slaying of 13-year-old Craig Sorger, who was found beaten and stabbed to death Feb. 15, 2003, in a recreational vehicle park.
Savoie, 12 years old at the time of the killing, was among the youngest murder defendants in Washington state to be tried as an adult. He had repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, saying Sorger fell from a tree and that he left him injured on a wooded trail but did not kill him.
Prosecutors alleged Savoie planned to go on a killing spree and beat and stabbed Sorger 34 times.
Another playmate at the park that day, Jake Eakin, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder for watching the attack and doing nothing to stop it. He is serving 14 years in prison and testified against Savoie during the trial.
Sentencing was set for June 5. Savoie’s lawyer Randy Smith said he was "a little shocked" by the verdict and added it would be appealed.
"I really thought we had created some reasonable doubt," Smith said. "... I thought at the very least that the state had not come close to even proving premeditation."
Savoie’s mother, Holly Parent, said jurors were limited in the information they had to consider.
"He’s innocent," she declared, "and I hope the prosecutor’s real proud of himself for just convicting an innocent boy."
Lisa Sorger, the victim’s mother, was not in court when the verdict was read, but hugged prosecutors outside immediately afterward.
"Nothing’s going to bring Craig back, but at least we’ve finally gotten justice," she said.
Deputy Prosecutor Ed Owens told jurors in his closing argument there was no evidence Sorger had ever fallen from a tree.
Savoie had blood on his clothes, access to knives and deliberately lied to investigators both after Sorger’s disappearance and after his body was found, he said.
The defense told jurors that police offered no DNA evidence linking Savoie to the murder and failed to interview everyone at the park that day. Smith also said Savoie did not have enough time to kill Sorger that afternoon and walk home.