A man convicted three years ago of the 1988 killing of a Tacoma woman saw nearly seven years shaved from his prison sentence Wednesday.
Daniel Ralph Maples, 52, benefited from a state Court of Appeals ruling issued last year.
A Pierce County jury in 2008 convicted Maples of second-degree murder in the death of Christine Blais, 27. The single mother disappeared in October 1988. Her remains were found about three months later in Northeast Tacoma.
An exact cause of death was never determined, though medical examiners ruled it a homicide.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Larkin sentenced Maples – the last person seen with Blais – to 28 years, six months in prison in July 2008. That was the high end of the standard range.
Maples appealed, contending among other things that Larkin used an incorrect offender score to determine the standard sentencing range.
In an opinion filed in September, Justices Joel Penoyar, Robin Hunt and Marywave Van Deren ruled Maples’ offender score needed to be double-checked to make sure it was correct.
Larkin included a 1977 robbery conviction as part of the score at his original sentencing. Maples objected, saying the conviction should not count against him.
A provision in state law allows some convictions to “wash out” of a person’s criminal history if he or she spends 10 consecutive years out of custody without committing another felony.
Prosecutors further researched Maples’ criminal history after the appeals court ruling and determined the robbery conviction qualified to wash out under the provision.
Deputy prosecutor Jim Schacht argued Wednesday that another interpretation of the law seemed to indicate the robbery conviction could be included in Maples’ offender score, but Larkin disagreed.
“My direction, I think, from the Court of Appeals is pretty clear,” the judge said. “And I’m bound by their decision, whether I agree with it or not or whether I think it’s fair or not.”
The reduced offender score left Maples with a standard range of 16 years, three months to 21 years, eight months.
Schacht argued for the high end.
“The fact of the matter is what happened to Christine Blais that night, the terror that she must have felt is something that will endure through the ages,” the deputy prosecutor said. “This case calls out for the high end.”
Defense attorney Mary K. High asked for a mid-range sentence.
Maples declined to say anything.
Larkin went with the high end again, albeit one with fewer years.