High Court Won't Hear Appeal

OLYMPIA - The U.S. Supreme Court today refused without comment to hear an appeal by David Lewis Rice who was sentenced to death for the 1985 Christmas Eve murders of Seattle attorney Charles Goldmark, his wife and their two children.

Rice was appealing a 6-5 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February that reinstated his death sentence. The February ruling reversed a 1995 decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court, which upheld an earlier decision by U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner of Tacoma.

Tanner set aside Rice's death sentence because he was not in the courtroom when sentenced. Rice was in a jail clinic being treated for swallowing a combination of water and tobacco that made him ill.

Several other issues in Rice's appeal remain undecided. Some were remanded to the 9th Circuit's three-judge panel because they were not addressed when the panel ruled in Rice's favor on the sentencing issue.

"Although this doesn't end Rice's challenge, it eliminates a major obstacle in moving the case forward and meeting the public's demand that criminal laws be carried out fairly and expeditiously," said state Attorney General Christine Gregoire.