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Youth, Friend Charged With Drowning Young Brother, Shooting Parents

August 15, 1995 GMT

McCLEARY, Wash. (AP) _ Kicked out of the house by his parents because of his increasingly violent behavior, Brian Bassett returned with a friend and a rifle and got revenge, prosecutors say.

The two teen-agers shot Bassett’s parents to death, then drowned his 5-year-old brother in the bathtub, according to Grays Harbor County prosecutors.

Bassett, 16, and Nicholaus McDonald, 17, were charged Monday with three counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, they will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Attorneys were appointed for them, bail was continued at $500,000 each and arraignment was scheduled for Monday.

Wendy Bassett, 40, and Michael Bassett, 42, died of multiple gunshot wounds in their home late Thursday night, Coroner John Bebich said. Their daughter, Stephanie, was reportedly out of town at a softball tournament at the time.

Friends and relatives said Brian had been quiet and shy, an average student, until about a year ago. That’s when he started ``hanging out with the wrong crowd,″ including McDonald, said Mrs. Bassett’s brother-in-law, Ed Olson.

Family friend Pat Bodine called McDonald ``a strange kid with a bad reputation in town.″

Michelle Brown said she dated Bassett for about a month last fall but broke it off when he ``got into alcohol so bad he had to be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.″

``He always had a lot of anger toward his parents,″ she said.

Olson said Bassett had become so violent lately that his mother began sleeping with a baseball bat next to her bed.

``They tried to get help,″ said Barb Lamb, Mrs. Bassett’s mother. ``They tried counseling and even asked the sheriff’s department if they could put him in juvenile hall. Nothing worked.″ Finally, the Bassetts told their son to move out.

At Elma High School, however, faculty members said they saw no evidence of the anger.

``I checked his records and found no disciplinary problems other than truancy,″ said Principal Bill Myhr. ``He didn’t seem to enjoy school and dropped out last April.″

Biology teacher Mark Keating said Bassett had been a decent student. ``I was amazed he could keep up with his studies despite his truancy problems,″ he said.

Keating said McDonald had gone to an alternative school and earned a high school equivalency diploma. ``He was a good kid and I liked him.″ he said. ``I saw him about a month ago and he had a job in a local restaurant and talked about saving money to buy a car. He seemed happy.″

According to court papers, late Thursday night, Bassett and McDonald returned to the home near McCleary, about 70 miles southwest of Seattle, ostensibly to pick up Bassett’s belongings, including a .22-caliber rifle.

Carrying a silencer they had made for Bassett’s rifle, they cut the telephone line to the house, prosecutors said.

While McDonald waited outside, Bassett crawled through the window of his second-floor bedroom, where he was confronted by his father, the papers said.

``An argument followed and Brian Bassett shot his father several times with the .22-caliber rifle. The father staggered out of Brian’s room,″ the documents said.

Mrs. Bassett heard the shots and began climbing the stairs with her bat. She was shot several times, the documents said. Bassett then went outside and told McDonald his dad was still alive and McDonald would ``have to finish him off.″

McDonald allegedly found the elder Bassett still breathing, ``placed the rifle against (his) head and fired at least one shot into Michael Bassett’s head.″

Brian Bassett was ``yelling and screaming at his parents and kicking at their bodies,″ the documents said.

Austin, awakened by the noise, sought out his parents and was lying against the bodies.

``It was decided that the boy should be drowned ... A bath was drawn and Austin was told to take off his clothes and take a bath.″ When he did so, McDonald drowned him, according to the court papers.

The killings weren’t discovered until Friday afternoon, when McDonald turned himself in to police in Grants Pass, Ore., about 350 miles to the south, and led officers to a van where Bassett was sleeping.

The bodies of the father and the little boy were found near a logging road about three miles from the Bassett home. Wendy Bassett’s body was found behind the house.