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Killer of Family of Four Senteced to Death

June 10, 1986 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) _ A jury Tuesday sentenced to death a drifter who bludgeoned and knifed to death a lawyer, his wife and their two sons and claimed he killed the family because he thought the lawyer was a communist.

David L. Rice, 27, an unemployed steelworker, was sentenced by the same King County Superior Court jury that convicted him Thursday in the Christmas Eve attacks in the home of Charles Goldmark, 41, his wife, Annie, 43, and their sons, Colin and Derek.

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The jury deliberated about four hours over two days, pausing Tuesday to listen to a grisly taped confession in which Rice explained how he killed the family, before condemning Rice to die by his choice of hanging or lethal injection.

It had convicted him of four counts of aggravated first-degree murder, the only crime punishable by death in Washington state.

″I’m very disappointed, what can I say?″ said defense lawyer Tony Savage, who had tears in his eyes as he stood outside the courtroom. Savage said that an appeal is automatic and that he assumed he would be the one handling it.

Robert Lasnik, one of two prosecuting attorneys, saluted the jurors for having the courage to impose the death penalty, but said that nothing that had happened in court could ever compensate for the family’s deaths.

Earlier Tuesday Rice was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where his stomach was to be pumped. Court officials said Rice apparently swallowed tobacco but his vital signs were stable.

In the taped confession given to police shortly after his December arrest, Rice calmly and clearly described how he targeted the Goldmark family, bluffed his way into their home with a $3 toy pistol and attacked them with a steam iron and carving knife.

Rice told police he stalked Goldmark because he mistakenly believed the Seattle lawyer, active in the Democratic party, was a top communist.

But Rice also acknowledged that financial pressure was a prime motive. He admitted he stole the Goldmarks’ available cash - $14 - and Goldmark’s bank card, which he attempted to use after he left the mortally wounded family.

Defense lawyers argued that Rice was mentally ill and had heard voices in his head.

Jurors deliberating in the penalty phase of the trial heard brief testimony from four members of Rice’s family, who said he had been abused as a child but had never before been violent.

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Jurors then asked to hear the confession tape once again.

At one point in the tape, Rice described how his victims were still alive after he chloroformed them, then bashed their skulls open with the tip of the steam iron.

″So I decided to complete the job with a knife,″ he said. ″I inserted the point of the knife in the skull where it was broken from the iron ... and stirred it around.″

Mrs. Goldmark, bludgeoned in the head and stabbed in the chest, died immediately. The others, comatose, died one by one over the next 37 days.

The family was found in an upstairs bedroom of their home, where they had planned to entertain friends at a Christmas Eve dinner.