She asked: “Is a date set?”
We checked with the King County Prosecutor’s office, who said that the case is still in the pre-trial “case-setting” phase of the process. The prosecutors and defense attorneys go before a judge about once a month and review whether the case is ready for a date to be set in the trial. Or, they may enter a modified plea as part of a bargain with the state.
For the last several months, those hearings have all been continued with a small note of “finish negotiations” written into court paperwork by Appleberry’s defense team.
We asked Ian Goodhew, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Prosecutor’s office, who said that those kinds of notes are a routine way to continue a case setting hearing and extend the time before a trial date is set. He couldn’t confirm whether actual plea negotiations were underway, but stressed that “on murder cases we very very rarely negotiate the charge downward”, leaving room for negotiations on sentencing ranges or other factors surrounding jail time.
Goodhew added that “We would always be open to hearing what if any plea offer they want to make and consider it after consulting with family members of Mr. Sullivan.”
As for when the pre-trial process might wrap up, Goodhew told us that he thought it was “very close” but dependent on the defense team.
We also placed a call to Appleberry’s defense team, but have not yet heard back.
We’ll keep an eye on it for the next hearing and let you know how that turns out.