State v. LaValle

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Docket Number82869-0-I
Decision Date10 October 2022



No. 82869-0-I

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

October 10, 2022

Coburn, J.

While it could be argued that a mother's love is priceless, does an expressed desire to be with her children forever equate to a "thing of value" to support a criminal solicitation conviction under RCW 9A.28.030(1)? We hold that it does not, because a "thing of value" must have monetary value. We reverse Vanessa Valdiglesias LaValle's conviction for solicitation to commit murder in the first degree and remand to the trial court to vacate and dismiss with prejudice but we also hold that the trial court did not err in admitting the secretly recorded conversation with Valdiglesias LaValle. Because we reverse, we need not reach whether the trial court failed to consider mitigating factors at sentencing related to Valdiglesias LaValle being a victim of domestic violence.



Vanessa Valdiglesias LaValle was born and raised in Peru. She met Timothy Grady, who is 25 years older than her, through an online dating application. Grady brought Valdiglesias LaValle to Skagit County where they got married in 2008. During their marriage, they had two children, S.G. and J.G. By 2014, Grady and Valdiglesias LaValle no longer resided together. Grady filed for dissolution in 2015. Following the dissolution, Valdiglesias LaValle was initially awarded custody, and Grady was required to pay her child support. However, in 2019, the court awarded Grady full custody, and Valdiglesias LaValle was ordered to pay child support to Grady. Valdiglesias LaValle was granted four-hour unsupervised weekly visitation with her children.

On June 2, 2020, Grady drove 10-year-old S.G. and eight-year-old J.G. to Valdiglesias LaValle's residence for a four-hour visitation. S.G. went into Valdiglesias LaValle's bedroom because S.G. heard her and J.G. talking about "bad stuff" and "rat poison." S.G. decided to record the conversation because Grady had told S.G. previously to record things, and S.G.'s best friend, P.K., and P.K.'s mother, also gave S.G. the idea to "sometimes record things," if necessary for protection. After S.G. started the recording, while hiding the phone with a blanket, S.G. asked, "Mom, what, what did you say?" The following conversation ensued:[1]

[Valdiglesias LaValle] I don't do much (inaudible) for coming to living together here in my house because I want more [children] to stay with me and (inaudible) together because I love my [children] 100 percent. I say, I love my [children]. I want my [children] together. Now, I no have custody, clear custody. He has 100 percent custody (inaudible) and you [children], and so you (inaudible), you are older, you decide, okay, I live with my mom. You decide that? You live (inaudible) mom. He (inaudible) no, tell (inaudible) you need to stay with me. No, I say (inaudible) because I just ask him, okay, [children], what do you want to be living, mom or dad? You can say mom, okay, and the judge say, [children], go, go mom, and he no can say nothing. He hate her, but (inaudible) yeah, when you (inaudible) you older, he will decide. He never more controlling to you and (inaudible) and no control [J.G.]. Never more. Bye bye, and [S.G.'s] older. They are (inaudible) to carry (inaudible)
[S.G.] Mom. What would you do if you gave food to dad? What, did, would you, like, what would do, put like what?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] But if, no, no, I, I never give to him nothing because I not going to do that, but you can do to him because they never know (inaudible) you're doing. Okay? I sh-, I teaching to you what you need to do. Okay?
[S.G.] Okay.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] For example, when you daddy's cooking, (inaudible) he explained, you know, want his own place. He, he, I don't know, but you know that. What's he drinking, and he's, and when he's sleeping, you go to bed late. In some wine, only he drinking it, and you put the (inaudible).
[S.G.] Venom?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] The, the rat.
[S.G.] Rat poison.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] Yeah.
[S.G.] Okay.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] (inaudible) and move it move it a little bit and, and (inaudible), (inaudible). Every, and the next day, you know the (inaudible). So, you be playing, you doing your stuff, what you need to do, but you never drink it. Okay. Never touching that, (inaudible).
[S.G.] (inaudible).
[Valdiglesias LaValle] He take it and drinking, and he don't know nothing, you know, so nobody's nothing. That's a secret between you and me (inaudible). You keep it forever (inaudible). When your drinking on that day, he later, in the night he pass away. He die.
[S.G.] Yeah, and then I call.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] (inaudible).
[S.G.] The police?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] You call the police.
[S.G.] Yeah. I call the police (inaudible).
[Valdiglesias LaValle] You wait a long, long time, and you call me to me and you calling yo-, and the police.
[S.G.] Yeah.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] When the police coming (inaudible), you say, oh, I don't know, my da-, I don't know, my dad is in the floor. What happen? We don't know, you don't know, (inaudible) and you just say, I need my mom. You call me quickly. This is what I do is go to the place where dad living and take it to you [children].
[S.G.] Okay.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] They're stopping everything.
[S.G.] Yeah.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] And you come back (inaudible).
[S.G.] So, that's what I would do, if I wanted to do that? Okay.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] Mmm-hmm (affirmative). No problem (inaudible) and we are forever (inaudible) live together (inaudible).
[S.G.] Yeah because he's old. I mean.
[Valdiglesias LaValle] (inaudible). He's (inaudible) to pass over.
[S.G.] You wait for him to die?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] Yeah (inaudible).
[S.G.] You pray every day for?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] Yes.
[S.G.] Him to die?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] Yeah.
[S.G.] You do?
[Valdiglesias LaValle] Mmm-hmm (affirmative).
[S.G.] Okay. Well thank you, mom, for telling me. I need to go to the bathroom.

Shortly after, Grady picked up S.G. and J.G. S.G. shared the recording with Grady when S.G. got in the car. Grady did not immediately share the recording with the police because it was S.G.'s birthday the next day, and they agreed to wait to contact the police until the day after S.G.'s birthday. However, S.G. did not wait, and on S.G.'s birthday shared the recording with S.G.'s best friend, P.K. P.K. told P.K.'s mother about the recording. She called Child Protective Services and the police department. The police contacted Grady on June 4 to discuss the recording.

The State charged Valdiglesias LaValle by second amended information with count 1, solicitation to commit murder in the first degree, and count 2, solicitation to commit assault in the first degree.

Valdiglesias LaValle made two pretrial motions relevant to this appeal. She moved to suppress the audio recording under Washington State's Privacy Act, chapter RCW 9.73, which provides that one party to a private conversation may not record the conversation without the consent of another party. The trial court agreed with the State that the recording fell within an exception in the act, which provides that conversations "which convey threats of extortion, blackmail, bodily harm, or other unlawful requests or demands . . . may be recorded with the


consent of one party to the conversation." RCW 9.73.030(2)(b). The court accordingly denied the motion to suppress.

Valdiglesias LaValle also moved to dismiss under State v. Knapstad, 107 Wn.2d 346, 356, 729 P.2d 48 (1986), arguing that the facts did not support the crimes of solicitation as a matter of law because the statement "we will be together forever" did not constitute a thing of value. The court concluded that the "offer of care and being together 'forever and ever' is not money but is a 'thing of value' under RCW 9A.28.030(1)." The court denied the motion to dismiss.

At trial, S.G. testified that S.G. took what Valdiglesias LaValle said seriously. S.G. also testified that Valdiglesias LaValle never said she would give something to S.G. to poison Grady. Valdiglesias LaValle did not testify at trial.

A jury convicted her on both counts. The court dismissed count 2, solicitation to commit assault in the first degree, to prevent double jeopardy.

At sentencing, Valdiglesias LaValle requested an exceptional sentence below the minimum standard range sentence. To support her request for the court to consider mitigation, Valdiglesias LaValle summarized the domestic violence she experienced while married to Grady and submitted a psychological evaluation, along with documentation relied upon by the expert, which included police reports and witness statements dating from 2009 to 2016, medical records, and social service records relating to Valdiglesias LaValle and her children. The trial court explained that because the expert did not address Valdiglesias LaValle's mental state at the time of her criminal acts, "I don't believe I could use that in this case, even though I'm quite empathetic to her


descriptions of what happened in the marriage, but I don't believe I can use that." The trial court imposed a low-end standard range sentence of 180 months.

Valdiglesias LaValle appeals and also filed a statement of additional grounds.


Motion to Suppress

Valdiglesias LaValle first contends that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress the recording of Valdiglesias LaValle's conversation with S.G. We disagree.

When the issue presented is whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, the facts are encompassed by the privacy act's protections, this court's review...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT