The father of Kirkland’s Scarlett Paxton urged Monday that sentences for murder be stiffened after former soldier Dakota Miles Wolf, also of Kirkland, pleaded not guilty to the stabbing death of his daughter in the early morning of Nov. 30.
“This coward if convicted will be walking the streets while we are still alive,” said Ernst Paxton after Wolf’s arraignment at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. “I’ve been told the maximum for this brutal crime is 28 years. People convicted of financial crimes serve longer sentences.”
Paxton said he had been told that the murder of his 19-year-old daughter is not a death penalty case but added, “I don’t think the death penalty is too much.”
Wolf, 19 and a private in the Army at the time of the murder, is now 20 and is being held in the King County Jail on $2 million bail after being court-martialed and kicked out of the service for being repeatedly AWOL and assault.
He pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder with a knife, and Judge Ronald Kessler set a date of Aug. 29 for his next court appearance. The standard sentencing range for the crime is 22 to 28 years. The judge also approved a motion by prosecutors that Wolf have no contact with the family of Scarlett Paxton.
Wolf’s attorney, Ramona Brandes from the Northwest Defenders Association, asked the judge to bar the media from taking and/or publishing any photographs of Wolf’s face, to the dismay of some of Paxton’s friends and family who attended the arraignment. “That’s not right!” said someone in the audience. Prosecutors argued against the motion, saying it was not an eyewitness case, and the judge denied it.
Paxton, a student at Kirkland’s BEST High School described by her father as “an artist, a beautiful human and a wonderful daughter,” was brutally stabbed to death early on the morning of Nov. 30 just outside her north Juanita apartment.
Wolf was arrested by Kirkland Police on Dec. 1, and according to charging documents he told them that he was addicted to the herbal/synthetic marijuana substitute known as spice and was suffering from anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.
The documents indicate Wolf had been staying at a home in north Juanita not far from the murder scene, owned by the parents of a friend. They allege a bloody palm print and fingerprint found in an alley near the apartment complex, the Hidden Firs along 100th Avenue Northeast, matched Wolf’s. The documents also state that a butcher knife found at the murder scene was the same brand as several knives found at the home where Wolf was staying.
The King County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Paxton died of wounds to her neck, and the charging documents indicate she also suffered cuts to her leg, chin and left hand, the latter consistent with defensive wounds.
Ernst Paxton said he thinks about his daughter “about a million times a day” and when asked what he knew of the actual murder said “that is still not clear to me.”
He said attending the arraignment “wasn’t difficult at all,” although at times during the arraignment he wiped tears from his face, as did several of Paxton’s friends and family, one of them apparently her mother.
He paused to compose himself when asked by Kirkland Patch to share his thoughts, then said, “There is no justice here. There is not going to be a good ending, unless we change these laws.”
He expressed concern that Wolf could be back on the street in his lifetime "to commit more crimes."
Later in front of a semi-circle of televisions cameras, Paxton said police and prosecutors sympathize with his anger that the penalties for murder are not severe enough. “Everyone from the paramedic who tried to revive my daughter, to the police and detectives who investigated the case to the prosecutors have to live with this like I do,” he said.
Wolf was transferred from U.S. Army custody at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma earlier this month after serving a nine-month sentences of the military charges and receiving a bad conduct discharge.
For previous Kirkland Patch coverage of this story, click here.