LEWISTON, Idaho – A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal of a man who drew national attention at his trial in 1995 when he argued that he killed two people because they molested his daughter.
The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirms an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in the case of Kenneth D. Arrasmith.
Arrasmith, 58, is serving life in prison for shooting and killing Ronald and Luella Bingham at their auto repair shop east of Lewiston. Arrasmith, a former Asotin County, Wash., sheriff's deputy, acted as his own attorney during the trial and argued that he shot the Clarkston, Wash., couple in an attempt to protect his own daughter and another young girl he feared the Binghams were grooming to rape.
He was convicted of first-degree murder of Luella Bingham — who was shot seven times in the side and back — and the second-degree murder of her husband — who was shot 23 times as he apparently lay prone under a vehicle.
In his appeal, Arrasmith claimed that prosecutors withheld evidence and that sheriff deputies lied during his trial. He said police had failed to report two weapons found at the crime scene, evidence Arrasmith claimed supported his defense that the Binghams had threatened him with the weapons.
After the trial, it was determined sheriff's deputies withheld information about two handguns found inside the auto shop. They belonged to a relative of a sheriff's captain and were returned to that deputy without testing.
U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge denied the appeal in 2006, and it was affirmed by a three-judge panel. The appellate judges rejected Arrasmith's argument that disclosure about the handguns supported the notion he acted in self-defense.
"The undisclosed handguns would not have been favorable to Arrasmith's self-defense claim because the handguns were found in closed containers away from the victims' bodies and had not been recently handled," the judicial panel wrote.
No evidence linked either victim to any handgun, according to the ruling, "and ample evidence suggests Arrasmith possessed a premeditated intent to kill."
Former Nez Perce County Prosecutor Denise Rosen said the decision upheld a verdict that was sound and proper when it was issued more than 12 years ago.
"I'm just glad to see that they upheld the proper decisions that have already been made," Rosen, who prosecuted the case, told the Lewiston Tribune.