Washington state

Gregoire denies release for inmate who killed at age 13

TACOMA - Barry Massey will have to wait.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has denied the convicted killer's plea for relief from his life sentence in the 1987 shooting and stabbing death of a Steilacoom marina owner.

In a letter to one of his attorneys, Massey was invited to petition the Clemency and Pardons Board again in another three years.

"Please bear in mind that this invitation is not a guarantee that Mr. Massey will receive a favorable recommendation from the Board and, if so, will be granted clemency by the governor," the March 14 letter from general counsel Richard Mitchell stated.

Massey, now 33, was the youngest person in the country to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release when he was convicted at age 14 of aggravated first-degree murder.

Massey's attorney, Charles Sipos, said they were disappointed in the governor's decision.

"We continue to believe that Mr. Massey, who was only 13 years old with a mental age of 9.9 years old, had limited culpability for the crime and that his exemplary behavior and rehabilitation will ultimately lead to his release," Sipos said Tuesday.

Massey and his 15-year-old friend, Michael Harris, went into Paul Wang's Steilacoom Marina store on Jan. 10, 1987.

Wang, a 41-year-old father of two, was shot twice and stabbed seven times. Massey and Harris stole candy, fishing poles and more than $140.

They were tried separately as adults, convicted of aggravated first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1988.

In September, Massey asked the state Clemency and Pardons Board for mercy. He told the board he'd confessed to the killing to protect his friend, that he took responsibility for his part in the crime and that he'd changed in the past 10 years.

Wang's daughter, son and widow asked the board to keep Massey in prison.

In a 4-1 vote, the board recommended to Gregoire that Massey's sentence be commuted to 25 years, which would have meant he'd be released in five years.