Over endless cups of coffee and overflowing ashtrays at the Eastgate Denny's, Alex Baranyi and his friends talked about almost everything their teenage imaginations could think up.
But at some point, the topic of conversation turned to murder, including killing the Wilson family, one of Baranyi's friends said yesterday in King County Superior Court in Seattle.
Sarah Lamp, 20, was called to the witness stand by prosecutors who hope to prove Baranyi and his best friend, David Anderson, both 19, killed William and Rose Wilson, and daughters Kimberly, 20, and Julia, 17, on Jan. 3, 1997.
Baranyi and Anderson are charged with four counts of aggravated-first-degree murder. If convicted, they will spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Anderson's trial is expected to begin around Jan. 11.
Lamp said she met Baranyi and Anderson when she began dating Anderson's older brother in 1994. Later, Baranyi told Lamp that he loved her, but the feeling was never mutual, said Lamp.
In letters to Lamp, Baranyi wrote that he contemplated suicide and had "almost suppressed my humanity." Lamp said she never took his suicide threat seriously.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Eakes focused most of her questions on conversation among Baranyi, Anderson and whoever happened to be at their table at Denny's two to three years ago.
It was during these late-night gab sessions that Lamp said the gang of friends first started talking about crime.
"Originally, the conversations were based on getting-rich-quick schemes, like sitting on a corner and panhandling," Lamp told the jury. Later ideas included breaking into homes and robbing banks, she said.
Although murder wasn't mentioned at first, the friends decided that it would be better to kill anyone who was in the home during a robbery. Lamp testified that Baranyi and Anderson talked about killing the Wilsons about a dozen times.
"Kim and her family weren't so much the targets, but they had three or four cars and valuables in their home," Lamp said. "I never remember it being personal or vindictive, but since they (the Wilsons) never leave, you'd have to kill them."
Kimberly Wilson learned of the discussions and confronted both Anderson and Baranyi, Lamp said. Wilson's concern was more sisterly than fearful; she was worried that the boys were going to ruin their lives by turning to crime, Lamp said.
For her part, Lamp said she never took any of the talk seriously. "I never believed anything. It was never, ever going to happen."
Even after Baranyi and Anderson were charged with the killings, Lamp did not go to police with her information. Instead, detectives tracked her down and interviewed her several times.
Another female acquaintance of Baranyi, Ellen MacPherson, 18, testified that they dated for about a month in 1996. She told the jury that Baranyi was a caring and attentive boyfriend.
In her last telephone conversation with Baranyi - four days after the killings - he sounded upbeat, happy and "in a good mood," MacPherson said.
Baranyi was arrested two days later.
In other testimony yesterday, a medical examiner showed autopsy photographs of William and Rose Wilson. One juror clutched her hands at her chest during the graphic discussion.
The trial, which began Oct. 5, is expected to last through next week.
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