Abbott appeals term in Sitka murder case

Posted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Sitka man convicted of multiple murders at his grandparents' Sitka home filed an appeal challenging his 140-year prison sentence.

Jason Abbott pleaded "guilty, but mentally ill" last year to the 2008 stabbings that left four dead and a fifth in critical condition.

In February, Sitka Superior Court Judge David George sentenced Abbott to 140 years in prison.

George estimated that Abbott, 20, would be eligible for parole when he is about 70 years old.

Prosecutors and members of Abbott's family who spoke at the sentence hearing asked the judge to impose a maximum sentence of 218 years, without the possibility of parole.

In a court filing last month, Dan Bair, of the state Office of Public Advocacy, listed three points of appeal.

Bair said the sentence was excessive for a defendant who had pleaded guilty but mentally ill. He also argued George had erred in "not imposing more time concurrently," and that the Sitka judge should have allowed "the defendant's request to attach other material to the pre-sentence report.'"

Abbott pleaded guilty in the March 2008 stabbing deaths of his grandparents Alice and John Abbott, his aunt Elizabeth Abbott and Charles Tate, who was Elizabeth's fiancé.

He was also charged for stabbing another aunt, Mary Ricketts, who was wounded but survived.

Abbott initially faced four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

In a plea deal with state prosecutors, Abbott agreed to plead guilty, but mentally ill to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault.

Each murder conviction carried a potential sentence of 20 to 99 years in jail, and Abbott could have been sentenced to an additional 20 years on the assault charge.

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