Fauntleroy murder suspect Angelo Felice pleads not guilty

From WSB contributor Katie Meyer at the King County Courthouse: Arraignment has just concluded for 19-year-old Angelo Felice, charged with first-degree murder for last month’s fatal stabbing of the Fauntleroy-residing entertainer best known as Hokum W. Jeebs. Felice pleaded not guilty; his bail remains at $1 million, and his next hearing is set for (updated) April 6th at 1 pm. He was arrested at 16th/Holden after police started searching for a man seen climbing out of a ravine near the murder scene hours afterward (as reported by a commenter here). More details, and a photo (the judge denied the defense’s request to stop the media from photographing Felice’s face) to come. ADDED 11:58 AM: Photo of the suspect in court today, photographed for WSB by Jill Schmieder of Altena Photography. Here’s her image of the entire scene at the bench, including Judge Theresa Doyle:

5 Replies to "Fauntleroy murder suspect Angelo Felice pleads not guilty"

  • Cheryl March 8, 2011 (3:57 pm)

    I’m always curious as to why someone pleads “not guilty”, unless of course, they’re not. Which doesn’t seem to be the case here. Thanks for the update, and the photo. Hope they wrap up this case quickly and that the victim’s family can find some measure of peace.

  • DP March 8, 2011 (6:29 pm)

    Cheryl, the law on this may vary from state to state, but I believe that in Washington, whenever a capital crime is charged, the defendant’s plea is automatically entered as “not guilty.”
    One of the legal experts on the Blog may have a more definitive answer for you . . .

  • Anton Zafereo March 8, 2011 (6:57 pm)

    As sorry as I am about what happened, at least this rodent is not on the loose to commit more of the “house licks” (home invasion robberies) he was planning. Thanks again, WSB…

  • waterworld March 9, 2011 (1:21 pm)

    Cheryl (and DP): I can understand that it doesn’t sit well with folks that defendants always enter a “not guilty” plea at arraignment. There are a few different reasons. DP is correct that if a capital crime is charged, the defendant is not permitted to plead guilty at arraignment. The state does not make the decision about whether to seek the death penalty until weeks or months after arraignment. If a defendant entered a guilty plea at arraignment, he might escape the death penalty altogether. The state does not want that to happen, so there’s a court rule prohibiting a guilty plea at arraignment if the case is death-penalty eligible.

    That answer applies only to aggravated first degree murder charges, though, and those are a tiny percentage of what is prosecuted. I didn’t pay attention, but I don’t think that this defendant is charged with first degree aggravated murder.

    For other crimes, one reason that defendants do not plead guilty at this hearing is that the defense lawyer virtually always advises against it. It’s a bad decision. Let’s say DP was charged with a crime. Even if he was in fact guilty and even if he wanted to plead guilty, his lawyer would advise him to take the time to (a) see what the evidence is, and (b) negotiate an appropriate plea agreement. Just to give you one example of why the defense lawyer won’t want DP to plead guilty at arraignment, suppose that DP is mentally incompetent and was legally insane at the time of the crime. It takes time to even find out this kind of information. Also, DP might take a look at the evidence the state has against him and change his mind. He might find out that he has a strong legal defense (such as self-defense or duress) and want to pursue that. At the time of arraignment, neither DP nor his lawyer have enough information to evaluate all this. Also, during the negotiation process, DP will have other decisions to make, and he may want to take advantage of options that will reduce the ultimate sentence or allow him to take advantage of work-release. Again, just examples of the issues that come up.

    Finally, if the defendant does enter a guilty plea and it turns out the lawyer should have realized there was a big problem with that (such as insanity or mental incompetence) then later on, some court may say the lawyer’s representation was ineffective from a legal standpoint and that therefore the conviction of the defendant must be overturned. That’s a bad outcome for everyone.

    I understand why the media reports that a defendant has entered a plea of not guilty at the arraignment hearing, but I wish that it was also more commonly understood that this is a standard part of the legal process, whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. Legally, it is not a declaration by the defendant that he did not commit the crime; it’s more akin to an assertion that the defendant intends to move forward with the legal process.

    • WSB March 9, 2011 (1:29 pm)

      WW, yes, this is not an aggravated-murder case – “just” first-degree. Thanks for the extra info. To be honest, I didn’t remember that this is a standard plea, and while I hope we don’t have any more murders ever, somehow I suspect that’s unrealistic, so next time we’ll be sure to include that. Maybe the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office could get on board with that, as they write up cases now routinely, and for media who do NOT go to court (we go to as many of the appearances related to major West Seattle cases as we can, and had 2 people covering this one, including the photographer), they tend to quote the Daily Docket almost verbatim –

Sorry, comment time is over.