Justice For Lita

Lita Byrnes was a beloved member of the Wallingford
community taken from us on March 11, 2018

A Message to Members of the Jury

Thank you for your dedication and service during this incredibly difficult trial. It was a grueling 6 weeks with horrific crime scene footage, a gruesome medical examiner report and awful autopsy photos that you had to endure. We appreciate your professionalism and diligent note taking. We appreciate the service to your fellow citizens and that you arrived at a decision to bring Justice to Lita. Thank you for your efforts that will hopefully put a dangerous killer behind bars for a very long time.

During the trial, you weren't allowed to look up information and the prosecution isn't allowed to tell you about what a kind and loving woman Lita was and how much we miss her. That information can only be presented in sentencing. But in case you have arrived at this page wanting to learn more about the woman you have heard about for the last six weeks, please read more about her or explore the media articles to learn who she was.

GUILTY - Thursday, October 28th

  • Guilty on First Degree Premeditated murder
  • Guilty on Second Degree Felony Murder
  • Yes on Use with a Deadly Weapon
  • Yes on Deliberate Cruelty

These charges make the defendant eligible for a life sentence

The sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Friday Decemer 10th at 9am on the presiding courtroom on the 9th floor. All victim impact statements must be received by the victim's advocate by 4 pm on Tuesday November 30th. Additional information will be shared shortly about how to write a victim's impact statement and how and whom to submit the statement to.

Closing Arguments

Closing arguments in the trial The State of Washington vs Ian Eugene Flaherty are scheduled for Tuesday, October 26 in the King County Superior Presiding Courtroom, E-942 on the 9th floor of the King County Courthouse, located at 516 3rd Avenue. Closing arguments will likely start at 9am and finish by noon. We are asking that all local people who knew and loved Lita attend to show the jury that Lita was an important part of our community who is deeply missed.

Trial Etiquette

Trial attendees should NOT ever discuss the trial anywhere in the vicinity of the courthouse - not in the hallways or bathroom or at lunch downtown.

Assume everyone nearby is a juror and such discussion would compromise and disrupt the trial.

Hats are NOT allowed in the courtroom.

The only beverage permitted is water in a lidded container.

Masks must be worn at all times in the court room and court house.

If you must enter or leave the courtroom while it is in session, please avoid any disruption - walk as quietly as possible, do not speak and close the courtroom door slowly.

Monday, October 25th

On Monday, October 25th, the prosecution completed their cross examination of the defense neuropsychologist witness followed by redirect by the defense. Both the defense and state have rested their cases.

Court will resume on Tuesday, October 26th. At 9am the jury will be given their instructions for deliberation followed by closing arguments.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

On Thursday, October 21th, the prosecution continued their cross examination of the defense neuropsychologist witness. The cross examination by the prosecution will continue on Monday, October 25th followed by redirect by the defense.

Closing arguments will be on Tuesday, October 26th.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

On Wednesday, October 20th, the prosecution continued their cross examination of the defense forensic psychologist witness followed by redirect by the defense.

The second defense psychology witness took the stand on Wednesday afternoon.

Court will resume at 11 am on Thursday October 22nd where the prosecution will continue their cross examination. The lunch hour will be shortened to 1 hour and the afternoon session will resume at 1 pm.

Based on current progress being made, closing arguments are anticipated to be Monday, October 25th Tuesday, October 26th.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

On Tuesday, October 19th, the prosecution continued to cross examine the first defense forensic psychologist witness.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

On Thursday October 14th, the defense began their case by calling a forensic psychologist who interviewed the defendant. The prosecution will continue to cross examine the defense's forensic psychologist on Tuesday October 19th.

Based on current progress being made, closing arguments are anticipated to be the morning of Thursday, October 21st Monday, October 25 Tuesday, October 26th.

The court will be in recess Monday October 18th.

Monday, October 11, 2021

On Monday October 11th, five witnesses took the stand including three Seattle Police homicide detectives. The prosecution will be wrapping up their case on the morning of Thursday October 14th and then the defense will begin their case.

Based on current progress being made, closing arguments are anticipated to be the morning of Thursday, October 21st Monday, October 25th

The court will be in recess Tuesday October 12th, Wednesday October 13, and Monday October 18th.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

On Thursday, October 7th, four witnesses from the Seattle Police Department took the stand and video of the defendant from police body cam footage and interviews with the homicide detectives was shown.

The prosecution will continue their case on Monday October 11th.

Based on current progress being made, closing arguments are anticipated to be the afternoon of Wednesday October 20th morning of Thursday, October 21st.

No court is scheduled for Monday October 18th. The court may also be in recess on Wednesday October 13th.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

On Wednesday, October 6th, five witnesses took the stand including the latent fingerprint expert from the Seattle Police Department, a uniformed officer and the homicide detective with Seattle Police, and co-workers of the defendant.

The prosecution will continue to call witnesses tomorrow and into next week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

On Tuesday, October 5th, four witnesses took the stand including the CSI detective from the Seattle Police, the medical examiner and two DNA scientists from the Washington State Crime Lab.

On Wednesday, October 6th, the prosecution will continue their case calling more witnesses. Although it is not expected with upcoming witnesses, if any of the testimonies are thought to involve disturbing visuals, the victim's advocate will give attendees a warning and anyone may step outside of the courtroom for that portion.

Monday, October 4, 2021

On Monday, October 4th, three witnesses took the stand including the CSI detective from the Seattle Police and the Forensics scientist from the Washington State Patrol.

On Tuesday morning, testimony will continue from the CSI detective and the medical examiner's office. These testimonies will involve disturbing visuals. Because of this, we advise people NOT to attend court on the morning Tuesday, October 5th. The afternoon testimony will involve DNA and fingerprint analysis and will not involve crime scene images. If you would like to attend the afternoon portion, the proceedings will continue at 1:30pm in E-942.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The day started out with the jury being given instructions and court rules. The prosecution and defense both presented opening statements. Four witnesses took the stand for the prosecution. The court adjourned for the weekend before the fourth witness completed testimony.

On Monday testimony will continue. Some of the expected testimony on Monday is from the medical examiner's office and will involve disturbing visuals. Because of this, we advise people NOT to attend court on Monday, October 4th. We will share an update after court on Monday on what to expect on Tuesday.

Trial Etiquette

During the trial, Witnesses are NOT permitted to attend trial before they have testified and been released as a witness.

Trial attendees are NOT allowed to discuss any details of the trial with any witnesses before they have testified and have been released as a witness.

Trial attendees should NOT ever discuss the trial anywhere in the vicinity of the courthouse - not in the hallways or bathroom or at lunch downtown.

Assume everyone nearby is a juror and such discussion would compromise and disrupt the trial.

Hats are NOT allowed in the courtroom.

The only beverage permitted is water in a lidded container.

Masks must be worn at all times in the court room and court house.

Trial Start

The trial is anticipated to start on Wednesday, September 22nd. The exact date, start time and courtroom will be determined when the presiding court assigns a judge on the 20th or 21st. There is a possibility of being put on “standby” should a judge experienced with murder trials not be immediately available.

Should a judge be assigned, the first day of the trial on September 22nd will be discussions of schedule, rules for attendance, Covid protocols, etc. All that information will be shared here.

Jury selection will then take place the first few days of the trial with opening arguments anticipated September 29, 30, or October 4th

In order to help the court anticipate the number of attendees each day and space needed, please marked our shared calendar with the dates you might possibly attend the trial. Your contact information will be kept private and you may change your planned attendance at any time. Your contact information will only be used to notify you if a date or location changes that would impact a day you planned to attend the trial.

View the Trial Schedule >

August 2021 Update

The prosecution has filed for a trial start date of 9/22/2021. This date could potentially change if the defense counsel has a conflict with another trial. However, we are focusing on a September 22 trial start date. The first week or two of the trial will be jury selection and various pre-trial motions. If you plan to attend the trial, expect to attend starting October 4th, Monday-Thursday. A full week or even full day attendance is not expected of anyone when you have conflicts. However, attending will help to show the jury the number of people who are there to support Lita.

In order to help the court anticipate the number of attendees each day and space needed, please marked our shared calendar with the dates you might possibly attend the trial. Your contact information will be kept private and you may change your planned attendance at any time. Your contact information will only be used to notify you if a date or location changes that would impact a day you planned to attend the trial. (apologies for those who have already done this, the previous list of users was deleted by Microsoft and you will need to re-register)

May 2021 Update

An ombinbus hearing was scheduled for 5/21/2021. The new defense team has made progress on interviewing witnesses. They have chosen to re-endorsed an expert witness hired by the previous defense team team as well as hire a second expert witness. The work of the second expert witness has been delayed due to Covid-related issues, but the report from the second expert witness is expected to be delivered to the prosecution in June. Prior to the omnibus hearing, the prosecution and defense teams agreed upon dates for a continuance. The next omnibus hearing is scheduled for 8/6/2021, with trial date planned for 9/22/2021.

December 2020 Update

An ombinbus hearing was scheduled for 12/4/2020. Prior to the hearing, in light of jury trials being delayed due to Covid, the prosecution and defense teams agreed upon dates for a continuance, which were approved by the court. The next omnibus hearing is scheduled for 5/21/2021, with trial date planned for 6/28/2021.

Jury Trials Delayed

To help keep the public, jurors and court employees safe during a time of rapidly increasing novel coronavirus infections in Washington state, King County District Court is temporarily suspending commencement of new jury trials through January 11, 2021. The court will continue to assess the suspension period on a bi-weekly basis, which could result in an earlier re-start of jury trials or extension of the suspension, as conditions warrant.

November 2020 Update

A hearing was held on 11/6/2020 to update the court on progress toward trial. The defense team has started witness interviews but have not specified any expert witnesses they may call. The prosecutor and defense teams asked to have a judge pre-assigned for trial which the court is considering. The next omnibus hearing is scheduled for 12/4/2020.

September 2020 Update

An ombinbus hearing was held on 9/4/2020. The defense team indicated they would be starting witness interviews soon and intend to have the trial completed by mid-February. The next omnibus hearing is scheduled for 11/6/2020, with trial tentatively planned for 1/6/2021.

July 2020 Update

During this COVID time, the court has been encouraging the parties to submit agreed orders ahead of time. Instead of an in-person hearing on 7/17, the judge approved materials submitted by the defense and prosecution. The next omnibus hearing is now scheduled for 9/4/2020, with trial tentatively planned for 10/5/2020.

As the new defense team prepares their case, potential witnesses may be contacted for interviews. However, you have a right to dictate your interactions with the defense. Your rights include the following:

  • If contacted by defense you can tell them “I want all communication to go through the prosecutor’s office”, defense then must stop all contact with you and should reach out to the prosecutor’s office directly. If you are contacted with questions about this case by anyone other than Detective Lauer, Detective Southworth, Wyman Yip, Aubony Burns, or Tiffany Attrill they are likely with the defense team.
  • You have the right to have a prosecutor present during any questioning. This is recommended, as they will record the conversation for clarity and will step in if there is any impropriety. You do have the right to refuse to be recorded but it is recommended so that your words cannot be misconstrued later and the records is clear.
  • You may request reasonable parameters such as the time and date, time limit, or a phone/video interview rather than in-person.
  • You are not required to speak to the defense, but if you refuse then a judge may order you to do so in a formal deposition.

May 2020 Update

Two new attorneys from the Northwest Defenders Division have been assigned to represent the defendant. The next omnibus hearing is scheduled for Friday, July 10, 2020 and the trial is tentatively scheduled to begin August 3, 2020. These dates are partly contingent on jury trials resuming which have suspended until July 6th due COVID-19.
https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court.aspx

April 20, 2020 Update

Today the court has reversed it's February 27th decision and ruled to allow the defendent's attorneys to withdraw from the case due to conflict. New attorneys will be appointed by 4/24/2020. With this new development and the current pandemic, the current trial date of 6/1/2020 will be continued. It is unknown at this time when trial is expected to begin.

Trial Delay

Due to concern over spreading COVID-19, all jury trials in King County have been temporarily suspended and continued out 6 weeks.
Superior Courts in King and Snohomish counties suspend criminal jury trials until April in response to coronavirus outbreak

February 27, 2020 Hearing Update

The defense attorneys recently learned that their firm's investigator, newly assigned to the case, has a relative who was a co-worker of the defendant. Citing a potential conflict, they asked to be removed from the case. Their motion was denied.

December 13, 2019 Omnibus Hearing Update

Both the State and defense requested a continuance in the case. The defense has provided a lengthy report that the Prosecuting Attorney needs time to review. Reviewing this material and scheduled vacations by both sides has pushed the new trial date set to April 20, 2020. The next omnibus hearing is set for Friday, March 27, 2020 at 8:30am at the King County Courthouse E-1201.

Sept 13, 2019 Omnibus Hearing Update

The first omnibus hearing occurred at the King County Courthouse on Friday, September 13, 2019. At this hearing, two key items were discussed with the judge regarding the case:

  1. The amended information regarding the additional aggravating factor of deliberate cruelty to the victim under the authority of RCW 9.94A.535(3)(a) was entered into record.
  2. The defense requested that the trial be delayed until early next year, and the prosecution did not object to this request. The judge granted in favor of this request for the reasons presented at the hearing, and the new trial date is set for January 15, 2020.

Below is the amended charge documentation that was discussed at today's hearing.

Amendment of Charges

There was a meeting with the King County Prosecutor’s office on 8/30/2019 to discuss amending the charges in Lita Byrnes’ murder case.

The current charges are for Murder in the First Degree with an enhancement for Use of a Deadly Weapon. If convicted, based on the Washington State sentencing guidelines, the maximum prison sentence would be less than 30 years.

The Prosecutor's office has amended the charges to add the aggravating circumstance of Deliberate Cruelty [RCW 9.94A.535(3)(a).] to the current charges. If convicted, this would allow the judge to deliver a sentence outside the standard sentence range- up to the statutory maximum sentence - life in prison.

Subpoenas Coming For Potential Witnesses

To share about expectations for potential witnesses, the King County Prosecutor’s office will be sending out subpoenas via mail to individuals identified as preliminary witnesses. It is expected that less than 10 non-law enforcement individuals will be subpoenaed at this time. The witness list may be increased or decreased over time and is targeted to the clearest and best case the prosecution can make.

  • If you do receive a subpoena, be prepared that the language may come across harshly due to the standard language used in subpoenas. A letter will be attached with contact information for the Prosecutor’s office and they hope you will call with any questions you may have.
  • If you might be a potential witness at the trial, it is important not to discuss the details of the case with any other potential witnesses. This is to keep the details from your memory untainted by others. If you do end up as a witness at the trial, you cannot attend the trial until after your testimony is complete. Note that you could be subpoenaed at a later date, so it is best to assume you may be a witness and not discuss the substance of the criminal case with others.
  • If you do not receive a subpoena, please don’t be offended. The goal is to pursue Justice for Lita.

If you end up subpoenaed as a witness, the prosecutor’s office will be in touch. They should be able to answer any questions or concerns you have. You can request a victim’s advocate (Tiffany Attrill) be present to support you. The Prosecutor’s office will coordinate the interview process with defense.

Contact From The Defense During The Investigation

If you are contacted with questions about this case by anyone other than Detective Lauer, Detective Southworth, Wyman Yip, Aubony Burns, Violetta Stringer, or Tracy Krohn they are likely with the defense team. It is standard practice for defense to conduct their own investigation in any criminal case and they are entitled to do so. However, you have a right to dictate your interactions with the defense.

Your rights include the following:

  • You are not required to speak to the defense, but if you refuse then a judge may order you to do so in a deposition (potentially in the presence of the defendant).
  • You have the right to have a prosecutor present during any questioning. This is recommended, as they will record the conversation for clarity and will step in if there is any impropriety. You do have the right to refuse to be recorded but it is recommended so that your words cannot be misconstrued later and the records is clear.
  • If contacted by defense you can tell them “I want all communication to go through the prosecutor’s office”, defense then must stop all contact with you and should reach out to the prosecutor’s office directly.
Lita Byrnes

Lalita Kealalani Byrnes
December 26, 1979 - March 11, 2018