Friday Harbor teen accused of murder, arson makes first court appearance, Friday

Federal ATF agents and state Crime Lab investigators join in the examination of the scene of Sunday
Federal ATF agents and state Crime Lab investigators join in the examination of the scene of Sunday's deadly fire in Friday Harbor.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

A 15-year-old San Juan Island boy accused of murder in the death of Sharon Hammel and of setting fire to her Friday Harbor home is expected to make an initial appearance in court today, Friday April 8.  

San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord said an affidavit of probable cause will be filed in Juvenile Court and that Judge Don Eaton will determine at that time whether the teen should be released and, if so, under what conditions, or, based on evidence in that affidavit, whether he should remain in custody.  

Gaylord said the teen will be charged with one count of first-degree arson and one count of either first or second-degree murder, and will argue as well that the boy should remain in detention.  

"You can expect the prosecutor to ask that he continued to be detained," he said. 

Though authorities are waiting on an examination of dental records before confirming that the body removed from the charred remains of a back bedroom of Hammel's Park Street home, Gaylord said there's no reason to believe that it would be anyone other than her. Authorities contend Hammel died of multiple stab wounds and before the back bedroom of her home was set ablaze.  

"It is our belief that she was dead before the fire was set," he said. 

Hammel, a Town of Friday Harbor employee since 2004 and lead caretaker of its parks department, was found dead at the scene of Sunday's early morning blaze. Her 15-year-old son and a man who rented a room at Hammel's home escaped the fire. 

Assisted by federal and state officers, local authorities Tuesday began a crime scene investigation at Hammel's home after an autopsy by the Snohomish County Medical revealed the 49-year-old died from multiple stab wounds. 

A 15-year-old boy, who authorities have declined to name, was arrested Thursday on charges of murder and arson. He is expected to be represented in court by William Jacquette of the Snohomish County Public Defenders group, which provide legal defense in homicide cases by contract with San Juan County. 




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