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January 21, 2009
McKenna praises Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate convictions of accomplice in drive-by shooting

Student killed in 1994 murder at Ballard High School

OLYMPIA—Attorney General Rob McKenna today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for reinstating the murder convictions of an accomplice in a gang-related drive-by shooting at Seattle’s Ballard High School.

“Today’s decision helps brings closure to the family of a girl murdered on the steps of her high school,” McKenna said. “Our office argued, and the Supreme Court agreed, that the convictions for the accomplice in this despicable drive-by were constitutional.”

Melissa Fernandes was killed in 1994 when shots were fired from a car driven by Cesar Sarausad II, then 19. Fernandes, 16, had nothing to do with the gang rivalry that led to the shooting. The shooter, Brian Ronquillo, was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a 52-year sentence. Sarasaud received more than 27 years for his role in the crime.

Today’s 6-3 decision reverses a lower court’s ruling to throw out Sarasaud’s convictions for murder and attempted murder. It also affirms the constitutionality of the jury instructions approved by the Washington Supreme Court concerning criminal liability for accomplices. The case will now return to the US District Court for resolution of Sarausad’s remaining claims.

The case was argued by Deputy Solicitor General William Collins, supported by Assistant Attorney General John Samson, who handled the case at the district court and in the Ninth Circuit, as well as a strong team of deputy solicitors general, assistant attorneys general and support staff.



Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725



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