Suspect in GuestHouse Inn slaying sent for mental health evaluation at Western State

Bail was set at $500,000 for Bria Jessie Danner, 35, of Aberdeen, after her arrest on first-degree murder charges in the stabbing death of Sung Sil Kim, 53, at the GuestHouse motel in Aberdeen Jan. 30.

Kim was one of the owners of the GuestHouse.

Prosecutor Katie Svoboda asked that bail be set at $500,000, saying the facts of the case were “extremely disturbing and extremely violent.” The Superior Court judges were not available and local attorney Stephen Olson served as a court commissioner, empowered to hear the first appearance. He agreed to the bail recommendation.

But Svoboda and Danner’s court-appointed attorney James Foley agreed to delay the official arraignment and instead send Danner for a mental health evaluation at Western State Hospital. Olson agreed and a tentative evaluation date in Superior Court was set for Feb. 25.

Danner attempted to speak directly to Olson about a dispute with the victim over money, speaking over Olson’s repeated attempts to tell her to listen to her attorney and speak only through the attorney. She agreed to remain silent and thanked Olson for “calming me down.”

According to documents filed by Svoboda, Aberdeen paramedics reached the Heron Street motel around 4 p.m. Wednesday and “found a deceased female at the motel’s front desk. The female … had obvious stab wounds.”

Aberdeen police said Kim’s husband was bloodied from trying to render aid. He had been working in a room and returned to the office to find his wife on the floor, according to court documents.

Not long after that, police were called about a “suspicious female with bloody hands” at the Safeway store a few blocks east. Police found and identified Danner, who had lacerations on her hands and eventually commented “that she stabbed a lady,” according to charging documents. Detectives located evidence leading from the GuestHouse to the Safeway store.

The victim’s daughter told investigators there had been previous issues with Danner, who had stayed at the motel in the fall and “was warned to stop her aggressive behavior or she would be asked to leave,” according to court documents. “On another occasion, the defendant kicked Mrs. Kim and ran off.”

Surveillance video from the motel, according to charging documents, “shows the defendant running at the victim and stabbing her multiple times. The attack is unprovoked. The victim falls to the ground and the defendant starts to leave. When she reaches the door, the defendant returns to the victim and stabs her several more times.”

The suspect is known to law enforcement in Aberdeen and Hoquiam and “has a history of mental health challenges,” said Aberdeen Police Lt. C.J. Chastain. “She also has a history of substance abuse and physical violence.”