Big cases cost big money. And the case against Isaiah Kalebu, the man just convicted of raping, torturing, and murdering a South Park woman, is no exception.
Responding to a public records request by Seattle Weekly, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg's office provided the total cost of prosecuting Mr. Kalebu: $481,873.
The costs break down as such:
Attorney time: $278,939
Paralegal time: $124,008
Staff time: $70,516
Trial expenses: $8,410
Grand total: $481,873
This figure doesn't include the costs of Kalebu's public defense team, which was estimated by Satterberg spokesman Ian Goodhew as roughly three times the amount of the prosecution costs.
If accurate, it would put the total taxpayer-funded cost of attorneys and legal professionals involved with the Kalebu case at about $2 million.
We have a separate public-records request filed with the King County Office of the Public Defender for an exact figure on its costs.
Other high-profile cases have been expensive as well.
Goodhew notes that the death-penalty case of Connor Schierman, convicted of quadruple homicide last year, cost $567,672.
Also, prosecuting accused accused cop killer Christopher Monfort has racked up $186,238, with the hearings are expected to go on for at least another year; and the prosecution against Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, the man and woman accused of killing six members of Anderson's family, has already cost $470,326.
The Kalebu case was unique in the amount of special precautions and extra hearings that were involved because of the killer's disruptive and suicidal behavior (he swallowed a pencil, tried to strangle himself, and made repeated outbursts in court, forcing the judge to put Kalebu in a special room with a live TV feed to watch the hearings).
"There's no doubt [Kalebu's behavior] increases the time and effort needed to prosecute," says Goodhew.
So can any of the high costs required to prosecute killers like Kalebu be recouped by the county?
No. Not unless the convicted killer in question happens to be a very rich person.
"Prosecution costs are something that public pays for," Goodhew notes.