State v. Schierman

/Fr__ . X IN cLima ofwci X This opinion was filed for record flAA - "'^j^^jusnae ^J ' SUSAN L CARLSON SUPREME COURT CLERK IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON STATE OF WASHINGTON, NO. 84614-6 Respondent, EN BANC V. CONNER MICHAEL SCHIERMAN, Filed 1 2 2018 Appellant. GORDON McCLOUD,J.—Conner Schierman was convicted of four counts ofaggravated first degree murder and sentenced to death. He appeals his convictions and sentences on multiple grounds. For the reasons given below, we affirm all of his convictions. As further discussed below, a majority of this court also rejects Schierman's challenges to his death sentence. However, I would hold that two critical, erroneous evidentiary rulings during Schierman's penalty phase proceedings require reversal ofthat death sentence. That would ordinarily require a remand for a resentencing hearing. I therefore go on to conduct our court's statutorily required proportionality review. I conclude that imposition of the death penalty on Schierman violates our state statutory guaranty State V. Schierman (Conner), No. 84614-6 against disproportionate capital sentencing. For the reasons given in this opinion, I would reverse Schierman's death sentences and remand for imposition of the only statutorily permissible penalty: four consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole. FACTS On the morning of July 17, 2006, officials responded to a fire at the home of Leonid and Olga Milkin, a married couple. When firefighters eventually extinguished the flames, they found the bodies of Olga, Olga's sister Lyuba, and Leonid and Olga's two young sons, Andrew and Justin. The women's bodies appeared to have been undressed or partially undressed at the time of the fire. At the time of the fire, Leonid' was stationed overseas. An investigation revealed that someone had used accelerants to set the fire, and autopsies revealed that each victim had been stabbed to death before the fire began. On the morning of the fire, witnesses observed someone who looked like the defendant, Conner Schierman, carrying a gas can in front ofthe Milkin home. Police contacted Schierman and observed that he had scratches and cuts on his face, head, and neck. Schierman told them that he had intervened in a domestic dispute in the early morning hours ofJuly 17 and had been hurt in the process. Police subsequently 'First names are used when needed for elarity. 2 State V. Schierman (Conner), No. 84614-6 discovered a videotape of Schierman filling a gas can at a nearby AMPM on the morning of the fire. Eventually, Schierman agreed to come to the police station, where he made three taped statements. In his third statement, Schierman admitted to being in the Milkin home. He said that he woke up on the morning of July 17 covered in blood, lying in an upstairs bedroom in the Milkins' home and unable to remember how he had gotten there. He stated that he walked around the house, discovered the four bodies, showered and changed his clothes, and decided to bum down the house. That statement to police was ...

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