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Life sentence reduced for Grays Harbor County teen who killed family in 1995

Brian Bassett was 16 when he killed his family in 1995, and was originally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

MONTESANO, Washington — Stephanie Bassett hadn’t been in the same room with her brother Brian Bassett for 26 years. However, she felt she had to face him in court to make sure he would not be released from prison.

Brian Bassett killed his mother, father, and five-year-old brother in their McCleary home in 1995. 

He was 16 at the time, and after being convicted he received a life sentence.

“I can’t imagine ever feeling safe if he’s out,” said Stephanie Bassett.

Last fall, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled life sentences for a 16 or 17-year-old was cruel, and therefore unconstitutional. The ruling meant offenders like Brian Bassett need to be re-sentenced.

At his hearing Thursday, a forensic psychologist testified a 16-year-old's brain hasn’t fully matured, so someone of that age cannot understand the impact of their actions.

Whether or not they will re-offend cannot accurately be determined either, Dr. Mark Cunningham said.

Brian Bassett’s wife, who did not want her name released, said she trusts him and thinks he would make a good mentor to troubled youth, if released.

Brian Bassett’s attorney, Eric Lindell, requested a sentence of 25 years.

Since he’s been in custody since 1995, Lindell hoped Brian Bassett might be released soon.

Prosecutors hoped he would receive a 75-year sentence.

Stephanie Bassett, who fears she would have been killed too had she been home at the time of the killings, said the potential of her brother's release scares her.

“I’ve gone on to be married and have children, create a really good life because I knew he was gone forever,” Stephanie Bassett said in court.

In the end Grays Harbor County Judge David Edwards sentenced Bassett to 60 years based on his “moral culpability.”

Lindell said he still considers that sentence cruel, and he would be appealing. He said if the sentence were to stand, Bassett would be released in his 70s.

Stephanie Bassett said she thought the new sentence was fair. She was relieved she wouldn’t be seeing her brother again for a while.

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