Deal at hand in Hammel murder case

Sharon Hammel - Journal file photo
Sharon Hammel
— image credit: Journal file photo

A resolution may be at hand in the case of a San Juan Island teen accused of murdering his mother and of setting their Friday Harbor home ablaze to cover up the crime.

Resolved in court, that is.

According to court documents, San Juan County prosecutors have reached an agreement with the boy's attorney. A motion was filed late last week seeking to have that potential settlement presented in juvenile court, Nov. 2.

Prosecutors claim that the 16-year-old, who is in a Clallam County juvenile detention facility awaiting trial on a no-bail warrant, murdered his mother, Sharon Hammel, and then set fire to the family's Park Street home in the predawn hours of April 4. He faces one count each of first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

That pending agreement will be offered up as part of a so-called "declination hearing", which has been on hold since mid-April. Prosecutors are seeking in that hearing to move the case to Superior Court and to try the boy as an adult. Prosecutors have previously argued that the case should be prosecuted in Superior Court because of the violent nature of the crime and because the boy, if convicted, is unlikely to rehabilitated given the limitations of the juvenile corrections system.

Maximum penalties for first-degree murder, a Class A felony, include confinement until the age of 21, for juveniles. Adults, if convicted of murder, face maximum penalties of life in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both; however, the standard range of sentencing set by the state is 123-220 months in prison.

A single mother and former Town of Friday Harbor employee, Sharon Hammel, 49, died of multiple stab wounds to the upper torso and neck, or possibly by a fatal blow to the head, which was inflicted on the night of her death as well, according to autopsy results. Authorities believe that Hammel was most likely dead before the master bedroom of her home was set on fire.

Hammel's son, represented by attorney Robert O'Neal of Everett-based Snohomish Public Defenders Association, has yet to enter a plea.

— Scott Rasmussen



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