Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Judge declares mistrial in alleged murder-for-hire case

By Seattle Times staff

A King County judge this afternoon declared a mistrial in the second trial of a 19-year-old Des Moines man accused of killing another man in an alleged murder-for-hire plot prosecutors say was hatched by the victim's wife.

Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez declared the mistrial in Wilson Sayachack's trial after a witness who claimed Sayachack had confessed to the slaying recently came forward. Defense attorneys had asked for the mistrial so they could investigate the man's claims.

Sayachack was 16, prosecutors said, when he fatally shot Ronald Whitehead, 61, on March 18, 2005, in a slaying police said was made to look like a carjacking. He is being tried as an adult.

Sayachack's first trial ended in a mistrial on Feb. 7 after a jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquittal. Testimony in his second trial had begun on April 15.

Whitehead was driving to work when he was shot four times at South 188th Street and Eighth Avenue South near SeaTac, according to police. His body was pushed from the car.

His Ford Mustang was found two days later a few miles away.

According to charging papers, Sayachack hid in the trunk of Whitehead's car the morning of the shooting as Whitehead headed to work. Jon Ogden, who was Whitehead's stepson, was in the passenger seat.

Sayachack allegedly climbed through the folding back seat and shot Whitehead in the back of the head, charging papers say. Police say that Whitehead's wife, Velma Ogden-Whitehead, paid Sayachack $1,000 for the killing.

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