Orville Moen appeals his conviction for aggravated first
degree murder and his sentence to mandatory life imprisonment
without the possibility of parole. Moen argues that the trial
court abused its discretion by denying his midtrial motion to
excuse a juror and that his sentence under RCW 10.95.030(1)
violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel
punishment. Moen raises several additional issues in his
Statement of Additional Grounds (SAG) for Review. We affirm
Moen's conviction and sentence.
2014, Moen was charged with fourth degree assault against his
wife, Michelle.Michelle testified at the trial. The trial
resulted in a hung jury. Immediately after the trial, Moen
attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head
with a shotgun in the courthouse parking lot. Moen sustained
a number of injuries as a result of the gunshot.
after, Moen filed for divorce and moved out of the residence
he shared with Michelle. Later, Michelle filed a motion to
hold Moen in contempt for failing to make required property
and maintenance payments. After Moen was served with notice
of Michelle's motion, he hid in a trailer located on
Michelle's property. Moen waited for Michelle to leave
the home and broke into the residence. When Michelle
returned, Moen struck her in the head with an axe. A struggle
ensued, and Moen strangled Michelle to death with an
strangling Michelle, Moen attempted to commit suicide by
asphyxiating himself. The police apprehended Moen, and the
State charged him with aggravated first degree
murder.Moen was 73 years old.
trial, witnesses testified to the above facts. During a break
on the first day of trial, juror 4 notified the bailiff that
Moen's family had contacted her to establish long-term
care for Moen after his gunshot injuries. Juror 4 was the
executive director of an assisted living facility. The trial
court questioned juror 4:
THE COURT: Okay. So why don't you tell us what happened
or what information you learned . . . .
JUROR: I don't recall if it was the family that first
came to us or if we received paperwork from the hospital with
medical information about the gunshot wound. I didn't
realize that until it was mentioned this morning that there
was a gunshot wound. And the family did come in shortly after
that looking for placement. I only met family. We did not
take him. We didn't feel that that was the right care for
THE COURT: Okay. So the family that came in, do you remember
who the family members were?
JUROR: I don't, no.
THE COURT: How many people, any idea?
JUROR: I want to say it was one, maybe two.
THE COURT: Maybe two people? And do you have an estimate
about the time that you spent with them?
JUROR: Maybe a half-hour, if that.
THE COURT: Okay. And do you recall any information that they
may have shared related to why the care needed to be or just
any background information?
JUROR: The only thing that I recall is that the family was
looking for placement because of the gunshot wound.
THE COURT: . . . [D]id you gain information or learn any
information about Mr. Moen, the circumstances of how the
gunshot was inflicted or the circumstances surrounding it?
JUROR: Just that it happened outside the courthouse.
[MOEN]: . . . Because it was Mr. Moen's family members, I
mean, would you feel now that you'd have to convict him
because you'd have to bend ...