News

Trial to start in kidnap, rape case

By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

The case is now under way against a Black Diamond man who was first charged with kidnapping and raping a female acquaintance, and now faces added charges stemming from his alleged attempts to have the woman killed.

Soon to go on trial is Randy Palmer, 45, who could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted on all counts.

"Right now, he's facing a plethora of charges," according to Christopher Hurst of the Black Diamond Police Department. "If he's convicted, he'll never get out."

Pretrial motions, to determine what evidence will be allowed once the trial begins, have been heard the past two weeks. Jury selection is slated to begin Jan. 5 and the trial will begin immediately after that process is wrapped up. Jury selection could take a couple of days and a King County Superior Court judge has set aside 15 days for the trial.

Hurst said prosecutors scored a couple of victories in early pretrial motions. First, the judge ruled that all charges against Palmer would be heard simultaneously; Palmer's attorneys had argued that charges should be dealt with separately, thus keeping a jury from knowing the extent of Palmer's legal difficulties.

Also, the judge ruled that certain evidence - which the defense had hoped to keep away from the jury's ears - will be admitted.

Palmer sits in Kent at the Regional Justice Center, awaiting trial. Bail was originally set at $750,000, but was increased to $2 million when the additional charges came.

While incarcerated, Palmer has twice contacted other inmates, proposing they do whatever necessary to make the victim disappear, according to charges filed by the county prosecutor. On both those occasions, inmates contacted authorities and cooperated, turning against Palmer, it is alleged.

Palmer originally ended up at the Regional Justice Center after being charged with first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping. He was arrested May 28, 2002.

That case started when a 38-year-old Black Diamond woman walked into Enumclaw Community Hospital, claiming she had been raped and beaten. Enumclaw police responded and, after learning details, turned the case over to Black Diamond authorities.

The victim alleged Palmer had held her at knifepoint, repeatedly raping and beating her. She was only allowed to leave Palmer's residence when her 19-year-old son went to Palmer's home, banged on the door and demanded to see his mother, according to papers filed by the county prosecutor.

Police then made plans to arrest Palmer. Due to his criminal past, and the statements he had made to the victim about shooting any officers who came to his home, Black Diamond police sought outside assistance. They called upon the Valley Cities Special Response Team, a trained SWAT team consisting of officers from the cities of Auburn, Kent, Federal Way and Tukwila, plus the Port of Seattle,

That group made contact with Palmer, who surrendered and was taken into custody with incident.

At that time, Palmer had been arrested more than 20 times. Past convictions include fourth-degree assault (1995 and 1999), unlawful possession of a firearm (1995), second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment (1992). While living in the Grays Harbor area, Palmer was involved in the beating and kidnapping of a man, according to a Black Diamond police spokesman.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com

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