Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA -October 1, 1998 -The Washington Supreme Court today denied a motion to delay the scheduled Oct. 13 execution of triple murderer Jeremy Vargas Sagastegui.

A petition filed by Sagastegui's mother, Katie Vargas, asked the Supreme Court to delay the execution and to allow her to participate in the case on behalf of her son. The petition claimed that Sagastegui was not mentally competent to make his own decisions concerning legal issues in the case.

After considering Ms. Vargas' petition today, the Court issued an order denying her motions.

In a memorandum filed Tuesday, members of the Attorney General's Office, acting as special deputy prosecuting attorneys for Benton County, asked the court to dismiss Vargas' petition. They argued that Sagastegui was mentally competent, adding that he previously had been found competent by both the state Supreme Court and the Benton County Superior Court where he was sentenced. Sagastegui also was examined by a forensic psychiatrist on Sept. 26 and found to be competent.

Because the courts have found him to be competent, no third party, including his mother, may assert rights on his behalf, the state said.

“Mr. Sagastegui has repeatedly and emphatically asserted that he accepts his death sentence, does not want to spend his life in prison, and does not want any person to intervene on his behalf and seek a stay of his execution,” the state's memorandum said.

With the assistance of a standby counsel, Sagastegui also filed papers stating that he opposed any appeals on his behalf and that he is competent.

In February 1996, Sagastegui pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the 1995 deaths of 3-year-old Kievan Sarbacher, his mother, Melissa Sarbacher, and her

friend, Lisa Vera-Acevado. Sagastegui sexually abused, beat, stabbed and then drowned Kievan, whom he was babysitting, before shooting his mother and her friend when they returned to Sarbacher's home in Finley, Benton County.

Sagastegui, 27, chose not to be represented by an attorney at his trial and declined to appeal his convictions and death sentence. However, standby counsel was appointed to assist Sagastegui if he requested it.