The King County prosecutor's office accepted Samson Berhe's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity today. He will be remanded to the custody of Western State Hospital until he is deemed no longer a danger to society--potentially the rest of his life.
Prosecutor Mary Barbosa says her office decided to accept the plea in part because his lack of a prior criminal record meant a maximum sentence of 26 years, putting him back on the street, possibly before his 40th birthday, without much in the way of treatment at the Department of Corrections. "He would have been a very young, dangerous man getting out around 40," Barbosa says.
She notes that in addition to the evaluations done at Western State in the months leading up to his trial, her office hired two outside psychiatric professionals who also came to the conclusion that Berhe was not sane at the time of Robb's murder.