Hearing to decide if 15-year-old accused of murder, arson will be tried as adult is delayed

A San Juan Island boy accused of murdering his mother and of setting fire to his Friday Harbor home will spend another 45 days in juvenile detention before finding out whether he will charged and tried as an adult.

On June 30, San Juan County Juvenile Court Judge Don Eaton agreed to postpone a hearing in which prosecutors are expected to argue that the 15-year-old’s case and the charges filed against him should be transferred to superior court, where he would then be tried as an adult. That hearing, slated for July 12, is now scheduled to begin Aug. 30.

According to court documents, prosecutors asked that the hearing be postponed to allow the state crime lab enough time to complete its examination of the evidence and materials collected from the home of Sharon Hammel, whose body was recovered from the master bedroom of her Park Street home after it was set ablaze in the early morning hours of April 3. A full report from the crime lab is expected sometime in August.

Prosecutors have charged the 15-year-old, who has been in a juvenile detention center in Port Angeles since his April 7 arrest, with one count of first-degree murder, a Class A felony, and with one count of first-degree arson. They claim that the boy murdered his mother and then set fire to the family’s home to cover up the crime.

At a mid-April arraignment hearing in juvenile court, Eaton, who also presides over superior court, ordered that the boy remain in custody without bail and postponed accepting a plea pending the outcome of the hearing to determine whether he will be tried as an adult or a juvenile. In support of moving the case to superior court, prosecutors contend that the 15-year-old, if convicted, is unlikely to be rehabilitated given the limitations of the juvenile corrections system and given the violent nature surrounding Hammel’s death.

Employed by the Town of Friday Harbor at the time of her death, Hammel, 49, died of multiple stab wounds to the torso and neck, or possibly by a fatal blow to the head, according to results of an autopsy performed by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner. Authorities believe that Hammel most likely was dead before the master bedroom of her home was set ablaze.

According to court documents, the teen reportedly told officers at the time of his arrest, “I burned my home but I didn’t kill my mom.” He was taken into custody at the bowling in Friday Harbor without incident



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