A King County Superior Court judge on Friday tossed out the death penalty in the case against accused cop-killer Christopher Monfort, but ruled the case could proceed as a capital case so as not to delay his trial.

Chief Criminal Judge Ronald Kessler ruled that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg abused his discretion by conducting a flawed and minimalist investigation into mitigating factors that could have merited leniency for Monfort a life sentence instead of death.

According to court records, the mitigation investigator hired by the prosecutor s officeconducted 25 interviews by phone and email with some of Monfort s associates, including some with limited contact with him, before Satterberg decided to seek the death penalty.

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