Blackwell Sentenced To Life In Prison -- Jury Split Over Death For Convicted Killer

EVERETT - A jury today spared the life of Timothy Blackwell after convicting him last month of murdering three women in the King County Courthouse.

After deliberating for a day-and-a-half, the Snohomish County Superior Court jury of four women and eight men was unable to agree unanimously that Blackwell should be sentenced to death.

As a result, he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, the only other sentence that can be imposed on a defendant found guilty of aggravated-first-degree murder.

The 48-year-old Blackwell, who has displayed virtually no emotion throughout the trial, again showed no emotion this morning as the sentence was read.

"We're relieved and we're gratified," said defense attorney Michael Small. "We think justice was done today."

In his closing arguments Friday, Small urged jurors to look at Blackwell's life as a whole, taking into consideration the help and guidance he gave family members and friends and his successful struggle to overcome a difficult, impoverished childhood.

On May 29, the same jury convicted Blackwell of three counts of aggravated-first-degree murder in the March 2, 1995, shooting deaths of his estranged, pregnant wife, Susana Blackwell, and two of her friends, Phoebe Dizon, and Veronica Laureta Johnson.

Jurors also found Blackwell guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Susana Blackwell's unborn baby.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Marchese said this morning that she was not disappointed by today's decision.

"You have to respect the jury's verdict by the length of their deliberations," she said.

"I have every confidence that the process was fair."

In her closing arguments, Marchese had urged the jury to focus on the facts of the crime, and not to become distracted by information about Blackwell's background.

Blackwell killed the women on what was to be the last day of his divorce trial.

He entered the courthouse carrying a gun inside his briefcase and shot them as they sat outside a courtroom.

Blackwell had been separated from his wife for more than a year and had learned for the first time during the divorce trial that she was pregnant with another man's child.

He had met his wife, a native of the Philippines, through an international matchmaking service.

The trial was moved to Snohomish County because the King County Courthouse was the scene of the crime.