Christopher Monfort, Accused Cop Killer, Planning Insanity Defense, Likely Would Plead Guilty if Death Penalty Dropped: Attorneys

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Attorneys for accused Seattle cop killer Christopher Monfort today said they will rely on an insanity defense in hopes of preventing their client from receiving the death penalty. They officially filed notice of such a defense Friday (see below) although it is not yet posted on the King County Superior Court's website.

One of the court-appointed attorneys, Carl Luer of the Associated Counsel for the Accused, also told Seattle Weekly in an interview that if King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg dropped the death penalty charge,"it is entirely possible" they would plead their client guilty to ambushing SPD officer Tim Brenton on Halloween night 2009.

The move comes a few days after a King County judge in another capital case - the slaughter of a Carnation family allegedly by a family member and her boyfriend - threw out the death penalty charge due to a legal defect in that case. Monfort's attorneys say they are seeking to determine if the ruling affects their case as well.

Monfort, 44, is charged with the aggravated murder of Brenton, 39, and the attempted murder of his partner Britt Sweeney. She was somehow only grazed when a gunman pulled up next to their police cruiser on a side street in Leschi and opened fire with an assault weapon, then drove off.

Police a week later shot Monfort, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, after tracking the shooter's car to an apartment in Tukwila. Police said Monfort initially attempted to kill another police officer who confronted Monfort on a stairway.

The suspect pointed a gun at Sgt. Gary Nelson's face and pulled the trigger, police say, but the Glock 9 had no shell in the chamber, and dry-fired instead. Police fired six shots at Monfort as he fled, two of them striking him. One bullet passed through his cheek and neck and the other entered his back and struck his spine; it remains lodged in his body.

He is also charged with arson of a mobile police command center and booby trapping the arson scene in an apparent attempt to kill first responders. Monfort has been in custody and in a wheelchair on the downtown King County Jail's 7th floor medical unit since his November, 2009 arrest. Trial is tentatively set for this fall.

Defense Notice Filed Friday

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