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Sexual Mutilation Trial Begins 8 Months After Attack

January 29, 1990

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ A 7-year-old boy identified photographs of a man and the man’s bicycle as those of the person who raped and sexually mutilated him and left him for dead, a prosecutor said Monday in his opening statement.

″His eyes got very wide ... he was sure,″ Pierce County deputy prosecutor James Roche said of the boy’s identification of Earl Kenneth Shriner. ″He was sure that was the man who had attacked him.″

Shriner, 40, who has a history of sexual attacks, is charged with first- degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and two counts of first- degree rape.

The savageness of this case, in which the boy’s penis was cut off, has sparked major proposals in the current Legislature for dealing with predatory sex offenders. Proposals range from civil commitment to castration.

Immediately after the attack, the boy was incoherent and afraid he’d done something bad, Roche told the jury.

But the child, who has turned 8 since the May 20 attack, recovered and identified his attacker. He is scheduled to testify.

The jury was selected last week in Bellingham, 120 miles north of Tacoma, because of extensive pre-trial news coverage. Jurors are being sequestered in Tacoma during the trial.

Roche said testimony from the boy, as well as microscopic analysis of hair and blood recovered from Shriner’s clothing and other personal effects, would tie Shriner to the crime.

But Dino Sepe, one of Shriner’s defense lawyers, said Shriner ″is the wrong man, and the evidence is going to show that man is the wrong man.″

Immediately after the attack the boy ″pretty much rambled incoherently ... at one point he said, ’I’ve been bad,‴ the prosecutor said.

But by the next day, the boy was able to identify Shriner from a photo montage that included the pictures of five other men, Roche said. The boy also identified a picture of the bicycle Shriner allegedly used to lure him into woods near the child’s home.

Blood taken from Shriner’s jacket matched the boy’s blood type, and 15 hairs found on a yellow braided cord recovered from the pocket of Shriner’s jacket also match, Roche said.

Seven of those 15 hairs showed root damage ″as if they had been pulled out of the head,″ said the prosecutor.

Sepe cautioned jurors that they had to find ″evidence for every element of every crime beyond a reasonable doubt″ to convict Shriner.

Shriner willingly let police in his house when they arrived at his door on the morning of May 21, Sepe said.

″He told them he had nothing to hide. He knew he had nothing to hide. He fully cooperated with the officers,″ Sepe said. ″He told them he had no contact with any children that night.″

Sepe said the blood and hair samples were not conclusive. ″There’s millions of people (with) that similar type of blood,″ he said.