Marcus Dennis, Scheduled to Be Sentenced Tomorrow in Street-Kid Murder, Was Never "Abused and Tortured," Mom Says

Marcus Dennis.jpg
Courtesy King 5
Marcus Dennis and Steven Bauder, two young men who lived among downtown's Juggalos and street kids, are scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow in the brutal beating death of a troubled art-school dropout named Noel Lopez. It's likely that the defendants' lawyers will try to make the judge go easy on the pair by playing up their childhood traumas and emotional problems.

As we recounted in our November cover story, Dennis (pictured above) has already told police that he was "abused and tortured" by his mom's boyfriends. This perhaps might help explain how Dennis could have grown into a man who could participate in the four-hour beating of Lopez with heavy construction equipment, producing massive amounts of blood and broken bones.

The only thing is: Cheri Dennis tells Seattle Weekly that her son suffered no such thing.

"There was nobody in the picture," claims the 44-year-old Cheri, a resident of SeaTac. Actually, Cheri says her son only lived with her until he was 4. At that point she sent him to live with his dad in Iowa. Even at that young age, she says, Dennis was extremely difficult to handle.

"He was lighting the apartment on fire," she says, explaining that he'd set toilet paper aflame with a cigarette lighter. She says he also was "very rough with animals"--particularly kittens.

At the end of her rope, she says, she called a state agency for help. (She doesn't now remember which one, although she concedes it might have been Child Protective Services). "They said there was nothing I could do unless I abandoned him or was beating him." She chose to send him out-of-state instead.

Yet even if he wasn't tortured as a child, Dennis--known as "Smurf" on the street-- seems to have serious problems. Cheri allows that she believes her son was diagnosed in Iowa with bipolar disorder, something she says runs in the family.

And he seems to have almost completely lost the support of his mom, who says she told him to go back to Iowa when he arrived in Seattle unannounced. When he declined to do so, she took him to the Union Gospel Mission rather than have him stay with her.

It's unclear how much of that background the judge knows about, or will take into account. Some of the documents submitted to the court in advance of sentencing have been sealed.

By the terms of their plea agreements, Dennis and Bauder agreed to ask for no less than 20 years in prison. The prosecutor's office is seeking 25 years.

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