Special Reports

King County asks state to help pay for Ridgway

King County wants $10.49 million from the Legislature to help cover the 2003 costs of prosecuting Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway as well as 28 other aggravated first-degree murder cases.

Ridgway's was by far the most expensive of the prosecutions, accounting for $6.8 million of the reimbursement sought by the county.

Ridgway, 54, pleaded guilty in November to killing 48 women during a 20-year period and was sentenced to 48 life terms in prison.

King is one of four counties applying for reimbursement under the state's Extraordinary Criminal Justice Act. It allows counties to seek reimbursement from the Legislature for investigation, prosecution and defense costs in aggravated murder cases.

The Ridgway case accounts for more than half the $11.84 million that Joanne Moore, director of the state Office of Public Defense, has requested from legislative budget leaders for reimbursements to King, Snohomish ($882,494), Kitsap ($440,243) and Spokane ($34,477) counties.

Since they hold the potential for the death penalty, aggravated murder cases typically are the most expensive type of criminal prosecutions due to their complexity and the high standards for defending them.

Beth Goldberg, King County's criminal justice budget supervisor, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the county has spent nearly $12.6 million on the Ridgway case since his arrest Nov. 30, 2001, as well as many millions more on the investigation prior to his arrest.