Family of murdered 13-year-old comes face to face with her accused killer
TACOMA, Wash. -- The family of murder victim Jennifer Bastian wants justice, but not any more death,
For the first time on Thursday, family members came face to face with the accused killer.
Pattie Bastian, Jennifer's mother, and Theresa Bastian, Jennifer's sister, sat in the front row of the courtroom huddled together surrounded by friends.
They were waiting for their first glimpse of the man accused of taking the life of 13-year-old Jennifer.
Robert Washburn is now accused of premeditated murder with police believing he planned the 1986 killing and even prepared a place in the woods of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma for it.
Pattie Bastian was asked if she wanted the death penalty in the case.
"No, no. Nothing is going to bring Jennifer back, and I certainly don't want to be responsible for anybody else's life. That's just not how my heart runs."
The prosecutor said he didn't charge this as a death penalty case because of the family's wishes. But it does carry a possible life sentence if Washburn is convicted.
"It's just an awesome experience that he is here," said Pattie Bastian. "He is off the streets, and he can't hurt anybody else. It's just a journey and I don't know where it's going."
They thought this day might never come, but cold-case detectives stuck with it and new DNA technology helped crack it open.
Washburn had been a man they'd wanted to take a closer look at early on since he'd been in the area. But the break in the case didn't come until law enforcement went to his apartment in Eureka, Illinois, where he'd moved several years ago, and he voluntarily gave a DNA sample. It matched DNA found on Jennifer's body.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, "This case was one of the main reasons we formed a cold-case team back in 2011 and this case is one of our biggest successes."
"I never expected this to happen," said Jennifer's sister Theresa. "I certainly didn't expect the person who committed this crime to seem so old and small and weak."
Neighbors in Illinois said Washburn was quiet and stayed home to take care of his disable daughter. Pattie Bastian said, "I guess I was thinking about his daughter, and how he's been taking care of her for so long, and then I realize what he did to my daughter, and I can't put those two together in my head."
Washburn, who pleaded not guilty, is being held on $5 million and is due back in court for a pretrial hearing June 20th.
But Jennifer's friends want to shift the focus from him to her. Toward that end they're planning a 'celebration of life' at Kandle Park, their favorite hangout, later this summer.