One year ago today, Joe LaMagno was inexplicably killed with an axe on a snowy Union St near 15th Ave. The alleged killer, Michael LaRosa, has been in custody ever since and is still awaiting a decision as to whether he is fit to stand trial.
On the morning of November 22, 2010 as the first flakes of a Thanksgiving week snow storm fell on Seattle, a surreal and horrible scene unfolded at the corner of 15th Ave and Union. In the front yard of a home at the corner, the body of Joe LaMagno laid on the ground and was slowly blanketed by the snow where, just after 10:30a, the 14th Ave boarding house resident was murdered with a hatchet in a brutal attack.
26-year-old Michael LaRosa was taken into custody after a brief chase less than 10 minutes after the attack. Police say he didn’t know his 58-year-old victim who had been reportedly walking home after a trip to the Madison 7-11.
A psychiatrist report later would document the accused attacker’s schizophrenia and mental illness. The Stranger reported on LaRosa’s family’s attempts to get the man help in a health system with fewer and fewer resources to help people like him.
Today, LaRosa remains in custody and stands charged of the LaMagno murder and the equally random killing of another man on the street the day before. His defense lawyers and state prosecutors agree — LaRosa’s doctors need more time to determine if he is fit to face trial for the murders. The case is scheduled to resume in January.