The first of two men convicted in what is believed to have been the first criminal case to use dog DNA as evidence was sentenced yesterday to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Kenneth Leuluaialii, 23, was one of two defendants found guilty two weeks ago in the murders of a South Park couple and their dog in December 1996.
George Tuilefano, 24, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. He faces a minimum 20-year sentence for each count, but prosecutors could seek an exceptionally longer sentence. He is expected to be sentenced in about a month.
Leuluaialii was found guilty of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Raquel Rivera and Jay Johnson, and one count of animal cruelty for killing the couple's dog, Chief. That third conviction gave him an additional 12 months in jail.
DNA taken from the slain dog helped identify both men as killers.
A life sentence without the possibility of parole is the mandatory sentence for aggravated first-degree murder. Leuluaialii acted like he cared little about the sentencing proceeding in King County Superior Court. He smirked often, flashed a wide-toothed grin, smacked his lips, stood with his thumbs in his waistband, stared at a TV news camera and once, stuck his tongue out.
He had the opportunity to say something to Judge Richard Jones. He said nothing.
Through his attorney, he told the judge he maintained his
innocence. He said he intended to appeal his sentence, which must be done within 30 days. He also apologized for overturning a table and spitting at the judge during pretrial proceedings. That behavior prompted the judge to have him additionally restrained.
With legs and arms shackled, he was put in a wheelchair that restrained his body four different ways. The special chair, which is also known as the Lecter chair, in reference to the killer in the movie "Silence of the Lambs," was never seen by the jury. But yesterday, it was how some of his family and the many members of the victims' families, who filled the courtroom benches, saw him arrive.
The judge and Timothy Bradshaw, a King County senior deputy prosecutor, called Leuluaialii one of the worst offenders either had ever seen.
Murder, the judge said, was one more act of Leuluaialii satisfying his needs and taking what he wanted. This time, it was drugs. There was sheer terror experienced by the victims, the judge said. Leuluaialii grinned. The judge said he usually sees a defendant, by this time, show remorse.
"I have never encountered a man who had so little concern for the lives of others," Jones said.
No member of Leuluaialii's family addressed the court, although some family was present. The mother of the woman killed could not speak, so another woman spoke for her. The aunt and sister of the man killed also addressed the judge. Hearts have been broken, said Robin Denise Boswell, Johnson's sister. Her brother's soul, she said, lived on.