Crime

Olympia woman to serve 29 years, 9 months for murder of former BHR counselor

Lia Y. Tricomo will serve a 29-year, 9-month sentence for the 2013 murder of her former counselor and roommate John Alkins.

The 29-year-old Olympia woman was sentenced by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor on Wednesday morning. Tabor awarded Tricomo the maximum sentence for the charges: second-degree murder, three counts of second-degree assault and taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission.

She was charged with first-degree murder soon after arrest, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charges in November of 2014.

Tricomo was arrested April 30, 2013 after she told Behavioral Health Resources and Providence St. Peter Hospital staff that she had killed John Alkins, who was her roommate.

Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Lord requested the maximum sentence for Tricomo, arguing that the defendant had tortured Alkins by cutting his throat, stabbing him and strangling him hours later.

“There was no reason to continue cutting John, except to torture an already injured man,” Lord said.

Sgt. Ray Brady told the court that Alkins’ home was one of the most horrifying scenes he had encountered during his 14 years at the Sheriff’s Office. He said that the blood found throughout the home indicated an hourslong struggle, and that during an interview with detectives, Tricomo admitted to planning the murder.

“At no point in time did she show any sympathy or remorse (during the interviews),” Brady said.

But defense attorney Patrick O’Connor said his client has shown remorse, and that Tricomo wasn’t in her right mind during the murder and subsequent interviews. He explained that Tricomo has a long history of mental health issues and childhood abuse.

She was, however, deemed competent to stand trial following a Western State Hospital evaluation.

O’Connor said Tricomo had sought help, but her mental health care stopped abruptly in late 2012 when Alkins, her counselor at the time, was fired from Behavioral Health Resources. O’Connor called her lack of help a flaw in the mental health system.

“Perhaps getting the help she needed could have made a difference,” O’Connor said.

Alkins was fired in December of 2012 after he “violated BHR policies concerning professional boundaries.” The two maintained contact, and Tricomo moved into Alkins’ Sunset Beach Drive home the following April.

According to court documents, Tricomo told detectives that after she moved into Alkins’ home, he bought her a bottle of vodka and they began drinking that afternoon. The two began having sexual contact that evening. Tricomo said the contact was unwanted, but she never told Alkins “no.”

The couple moved to the master bedroom, where Tricomo tried to tie Alkins up. He declined, and she slit his throat with a razor. She told detectives that she hid the razor in the room in the hopes of killing Alkins. When asked why, she said he was a creep, according to court documents.

Tricomo said she followed Alkins around the house for several hours, and eventually strangled him with a green extension cord.

She then drank more vodka and went to bed.

Court documents state that she called BHR the next day to report that she had stabbed someone. She then took Alkins’ car and drove to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in downtown Olympia, where she asked for help. A member of the group drove her to Providence St. Peter Hospital.

Mary Gehling, John Alkins’ sister, told the court that her brother was a kind, caring man. She talked to him two days before his death about ways they could help their brother, who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Gehling recalled having to tell her 92-year-old father that Alkins had been murdered, and said she still can’t bring herself to delete her brother’s number from her cellphone.

“The knowledge that he was cruelly murdered will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Gehling said.

The victim’s brother, Peter Alkins, said he learned of John Alkins’ death while watching the 11 p.m. TV news. He said John Alkins’ murder has had a large impact on the family — particularly the victim’s son.

“We all feel the loss,” Peter Alkins said. “... John was not only my brother, but also my best friend.”

Tabor said that it was evident Tricomo had some mental issues at the time of the murder, and that she had a difficult upbringing. But, the crime warranted the maximum sentence for the charge.

“The state has pointed out that this was a gruesome, gruesome situation,” Tabor said.

He sentenced her to 29 years, 9 months in prison for the second-degree murder charge. He also sentenced her to 5 years, 10 months in prison for the assault charges and one year for taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission. The three sentences will be served concurrently, and Tricomo will receive credit for her time spent in the Thurston County Jail.

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