by AMANDA WINTERS
Double-murder suspect Patrick Drum interrupted his attorney in Clallam County Superior Court on June 13 to tell the judge he wants to plead guilty.
“Your honor, I’d like to plead guilty, if possible,” he said to Judge Ken Williams.
Drum is charged with burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the June 3 deaths of Gary Blanton Jr. and Jerry Ray.
Both men were registered sex offenders and law enforcement officers said Drum had a third sex offender targeted in Jefferson County.
Drum’s attorney Karen Unger said she didn’t think he could plead guilty at that point.
“We don’t have the ability to accept your plea at this time,” Williams said, agreeing with Unger.
Drum protested and said it was his life and no court or attorney could make that decision for him.
“I’m guilty,” he said. “I want to plead guilty.”
He reiterated his earlier request to represent himself in the case but Williams advised him to continue talking to Unger about the case.
Unger said she spoke with Drum before the hearing and was expecting him to sign a waiver allowing Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly more time to decide whether or not to seek the death penalty but now she wasn’t sure if he would sign or not.
Drum said if a jury wants him to die that’s up to them but “If the prosecutor wants to threaten me with death, I’m not going to give her more time to do it.”
In a later interview, Unger said defendants charged with aggravated first-degree murder are not allowed to plead guilty at the initial arraignment when the prosecutor has announced the intent to consider the death penalty.
The prosecution and defense both have a certain amount of time to figure out if there are mitigating factors that would convince a jury not to impose the death penalty, she said.
If a defendant were allowed to plead guilty before the state makes that determination, he or she could theoretically avoid the death penalty, she said.
Unger said the defense will compile information on “why we don’t believe the death penalty is appropriate for him.”
Williams set a hearing for 9 a.m. June 28 in Clallam County Superior Court and set a tentative trial date of Aug. 6, lasting three to four weeks.
Kelly did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.