State v. Dodd

Citation120 Wn.2d 1,838 P.2d 86
Decision Date08 October 1992
Docket NumberNo. 57414-6,57414-6
CourtWashington Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of Washington, Respondent, v. Westley Allan DODD, Appellant.
Westley Allan Dodd, pro se

Gilbert H. Levy, Seattle, Judith M. Mandel, Gig Harbor, amicus curiae for appellant.

DORE, Chief Justice.

Can a defendant in a capital case waive his general right of appellate review? This case is unique because the defendant, Westley Allan Dodd, wants to forgo appellate review and be executed as quickly as possible. We hold that the defendant in a capital case can waive his general right of review, but cannot waive statutory review of his death sentence. We affirm Dodd's death sentence.


1. May a defendant in a capital case waive his right of general review?

2. Whether the jury properly imposed a sentence of death in Dodd's case.


On September 4, 1989, the bodies of 11-year-old Cole Neer and 10-year-old Billy Neer were discovered in David Douglas Park, Vancouver. Both boys sustained multiple stab wounds. Billy was fully clothed; Cole's pants were pulled down. Cole was dead when discovered. Billy died en route to the hospital.

On November 1, 1989, the nude body of a 4-year-old boy was discovered near Vancouver Lake. The body was that of Lee Iseli, of Portland, reported missing on October 29. Members of the Clark County Sheriff's Office, the Vancouver police and the Portland police formed a "task force" to investigate the case.

On November 13, 1989, the Liberty Theatre in Camas reported that an adult male tried to abduct James Kirk, a 6-year-old boy, from the theater. The man carried Kirk from the men's bathroom out of the theater, but Kirk was able to break free. Camas police arrested the abductor and brought him to the police department where he was identified as Westley Allan Dodd.

Police informed Dodd of his right to an attorney. They also made a phone and a list of attorneys available to him. Dodd did not call an attorney or request an attorney during the booking process.

Camas police discovered that Dodd had a history of sexual offenses involving young male victims, lived near David Douglas Park, and worked near Vancouver Lake. They also noted that Kirk was close in age to and resembled Lee Iseli. Camas police called officers investigating the Neer and Iseli cases.

Detectives Trimble and Jensen spoke with Dodd in the Camas police chief's office from 10:45 p.m. November 13 to 2:45 a.m. November 14. The first interview lasted from 10:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. The second interview lasted from 1 a.m. to 2:45 a.m.

Trimble advised Dodd of his Miranda rights at the beginning of the first interview. Dodd appeared alert and intelligent. He said he understood his rights, did not want an attorney, and was willing to speak with the police. The officers asked Dodd about the Neer and Iseli murders. Dodd denied any knowledge of the murders. Police asked Dodd if they could search his house and car. Dodd replied "I think I'd probably talk to an attorney before I let you do that." Detective Jensen asked Dodd if he minded speaking with the officers, if he felt better talking about "the whole thing."

                Dodd replied he felt better talking to the officers and wanted to continue the interview.   Dodd then admitted that he abducted Kirk and killed the Neer boys and Lee Iseli.   Dodd told the officers they would find incriminating evidence in his apartment.   Dodd agreed to do a second, taped interview

At the beginning of the second interview, Officer Trimble read Dodd his Miranda rights. Dodd stated that he understood those rights, was willing to talk to the officers, and that he knew his statements were being recorded. Trimble and Dodd discussed the earlier reference to an attorney. Dodd affirmed that he never told the officers he did not want to speak with them and that he said talking to them would help. Exhibit 114, at 3. Dodd again summarized how he murdered the Neers and Lee Iseli, and kidnapped James Kirk. Exhibit 114, at 5-26.

Police sought and executed two warrants, from different judges, to search Dodd's house and car. Officers seized a briefcase from Dodd's apartment which contained Lee Iseli's underwear; a photo album of pictures Dodd took of Iseli before and after his death, with captions written by Dodd; and Dodd's "diary".

The first section of the diary, "1968 to 1989", recounts Dodd's sexual history.

"Incident 1" describes the circumstances of the Neer boys' deaths. From September 2 to September 4, 1989, Dodd spent hours, or entire days, surveying David Douglas Park to find "ideal" crime sites. He considered which times were best for "hunting", appraised possible victims, and considered how he could rape and murder children without being apprehended. Dodd also considered what weapons to use, obtained those weapons, and brought them to the park.

On September 4, he saw two boys who were the "proper age" playing on bikes in the park. He approached the Neer brothers, ordered the boys to come with him, and led them to a secluded area of the park. He told the boys to bring their bikes, because he did not want anyone to see the abandoned bikes and begin to search for the boys. In a Dodd told the boys he wanted "one more thing." He took a knife from under his pant leg and stabbed Billy "in the gut." As Cole, who was still kneeling, started to rise, Dodd stabbed him in the side and chest. Despite his wounds, Billy tried to run away. Dodd pursued him and, as Billy repeated "I'm sorry, I'm sorry", Dodd fatally stabbed him. Dodd checked the area for incriminating evidence, made sure that Cole was dead, and then left the park. The next day Dodd put the knife in a manila envelope and threw the envelope in a dumpster.

                wooded area of the park, Dodd tied Billy and Coles' wrists together, so that the boys faced him, and he raped Cole while Billy cried.   Dodd then cut the boys loose, made them kneel down, and he tried to rape Cole again

"Incident 2 Rough Draft" and "Incident 2" describe how Dodd "hunted", raped, and killed Lee Iseli. Dodd described various means he might employ to murder victims, including "hang by neck"; strangle "with hands"; and strangle "by rope". He described how he would restrain victims, tying their "hands loosely over [their] head" and tying them down at the chest, knees, abdomen, and ankles. He considered the advantages of kidnapping a boy, "so I feel more comfortable and can take more time for various types of sex before killing the child." He expressed the desire to hang a nude 6-year-old victim and take pictures of the body. Dodd assessed possible crime sites, using maps and driving around the Portland area, and he bought a camera.

On October 29, around noon, Dodd went to a school playground he surveyed the preceding day. He saw a group of boys playing football and, away from the group, a younger boy playing alone. Dodd approached 4-year-old Lee Iseli and asked if he wanted to "have some fun and make some money." When the boy hesitated and seemed unsure, Dodd took his hand and led him from the playground to Dodd's car. Lee Iseli began crying in the car, but Dodd held Lee's hand and promised not to hurt him.

When they arrived at Dodd's apartment, at 1:30 p.m., Dodd noted the circumstances were "perfect": his neighbor "Incident 3" concerned events that occurred before the Kirk abduction.

                and landlord were out.   Dodd told Lee to take off his clothes and, when the boy protested, began undressing him.   Dodd tied Lee to a bed:  the boy's hands over his head, restrained at the chest, knees, abdomen, and ankles;  then took photographs of the nude boy.   During the day and evening of October 29, and the morning of October 30, Dodd raped and strangled Iseli.   The torturous details of the rapes and murder are not relevant to reaching a decision in this case.   When Dodd returned from work the afternoon of October 30 he burned Iseli's clothing;  put Iseli's corpse in a trash bag;  and dumped "the garbage" near Vancouver Lake

The prosecutor, in separate informations, charged Dodd with one count of aggravated murder in the first degree of Lee Iseli; one count of aggravated murder in the first degree of Cole Neer; one count of aggravated murder in the first degree of William Neer; one count of attempted murder in the first degree of James Kirk; and one count of kidnapping in the first degree of James Kirk. Dodd pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In May 1990, Dodd moved to suppress his confession and the evidence seized in his home pursuant to warrants 174 and 175. The court concluded that the confession was voluntary and the evidence properly seized from Dodd's home. It reasoned that even if the confession evidence in warrant 174 was discounted, other evidence, particularly Dodd's move to Vancouver at the time of the events; the proximity of his home and workplace to crime sites; and a neighbor's statement that he saw a boy who resembled Lee Iseli in Dodd's apartment at the time of the Iseli murder, wearing only Dodd's undershirt; provided substantial evidence of probable cause for search warrants to examine Dodd's apartment and car.

In June 1990, after the adverse evidentiary rulings, Dodd changed his plea to guilty. Dr. Maletzky assessed Dodd's competence to plead guilty. The doctor determined that Dodd At the penalty proceedings, Dodd moved to exclude any reference to his "diary". The court excluded the sections entitled "1968 to July 1989" and "Incident # 3". It reviewed remaining sections of the diary, line by line. The court excluded any evidence of Dodd's sexual activity with Lee Iseli's corpse. It entered thorough oral and written findings concerning the other evidence admitted and excluded.

                was "competent to aid and assist in his own defense and is competent to enter a plea."   The court also closely questioned Dodd

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