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Attorneys argue for the release of Grays Harbor County man sentenced to life as a teen

Brian Bassett murdered his parents and 5-year-old brother when he was 16 years old in 1995. Now, he's pleading for release from prison.

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash. — Brian Bassett was 16 years old when he was convicted of killing his parents and brother in 1995.

In a Grays Harbor County courtroom Thursday, Bassett’s attorney argued he’s a poster child for rehabilitation and called for his release.

“[Bassett] committed an atrocious act when he was a boy,” said defense attorney Eric Lindell. “Since that time, he’s changed his life completely because he’s matured. In accordance with the brain science, after he got to be 25, he didn’t make childish decisions anymore. He’s not violated a prison rule in almost two decades.”

Bassett killed his mother, father, and 5-year-old brother in their McCleary home in 1995. He was 16 at the time, and after being convicted he received a life sentence. 

Twenty-four years after that murder, the Washington State Supreme court ruled life sentences for teenagers were “cruel” and thus unconstitutional.

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Thursday was Bassett’s second sentencing hearing after that Supreme Court ruling. He was re-sentenced to 60 additional years in prison in 2019, but an appeals court overturned that ruling deeming it excessive.

Bassett's attorneys are making a case for his release, arguing he's served "65 percent" of his life sentence. His defense called a clinical psychologist and a college professor who have worked with Bassett and are helping make a case for his rehabilitation.

The state called for 40 years, a move backed by his surviving family.

Stephanie Bassett, Brian’s sister, fears she would have been killed too had she been home at the time of the murders.

“Every day that he’s behind bars, I can breathe, I can feel safe, and I can live because I don’t have a doubt that the target is on my back,” Stephanie Bassett said while on the stand.

Brian Bassett was the last to take the stand Thursday and made a statement of guilt to the court.

“All I can say is how horribly sorry I am and assert that the man who stands before you today is far removed from the hurting and confused child who committed his crime nearly 30 years ago,” Brian Bassett said.

A judge is expected to issue a sentence within the next two weeks.


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