Judge sentences Phillip to 25 years for murder of Kent city employee Frankel

William L. Phillip Jr. listens to Judge Andrea Darvas during his sentencing Friday in Kent for the first-degree murder of Seth Frankel in 2010. Darvas gave Phillip a 25-year prison sentence. Defense attorney Kristen Murray is on the left. - STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
William L. Phillip Jr. listens to Judge Andrea Darvas during his sentencing Friday in Kent for the first-degree murder of Seth Frankel in 2010. Darvas gave Phillip a 25-year prison sentence. Defense attorney Kristen Murray is on the left.
— image credit: STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

The two young daughters of Seth Frankel playfully moved around a hallway Friday outside of a King County Superior Courtroom in Kent where their father's killer had just been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The girls were only 8 and 4 when William L. Phillip Jr. stabbed Frankel to death on May 21, 2010 at their father's Auburn home. Frankel, 41 and divorced, worked as a city of Kent videographer.

"More than anything he loved his children," said Christina Frankel-Barton, the mother of the girls, to Judge Andrea Darvas before she sentenced Phillip. "His girls were the most important pieces of his life. He took joy in their individuality and their wonder."

Frankel-Barton gathered her girls from another room at the Maleng Regional Justice Center after the sentencing. They were the focus of her comments to the judge.

"The hardest thing I've ever done is to tell the girls that their dad died," she said.

Phillip, 33, faced a sentence of 20 to 26 years for stabbing Frankel.

"This was a violent and senseless crime," Darvas said before she issued the sentence.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of 26 years while the defense requested the minimum.

A jury convicted Phillip in April during a retrial. The first jury in December was unable to reach an unanimous verdict after a six-week trial so Darvas declared a mistrial. Darvas oversaw both trials.

Jurors from both trials attended the sentencing along with relatives and friends of Frankel and Phillip.

Prosecutors Wyman Yip and Patrick Hinds told the jury that Phillip drove from his home in Oregon to Auburn to stab Frankel to death in his Auburn home because both were in love with Bonny Johnson and Phillip wanted her back. Johnson tipped off detectives to investigate Phillip.

Auburn Police used cellphone records and DNA evidence found on a bloody towel to tie Phillip to the killing of Frankel. Defense attorney Anuradha Luthra argued that police arrested the wrong man. She said Phillip had driven to Auburn that day because he liked to take drives to deal with stress and he had recently lost a friend and a relative.

Bonnie Weymouth served on the second jury that convicted Phillip. She talked to reporters after the sentencing about what led to her guilty verdict.

"The evidence was the DNA in Seth's apartment that only could have gotten there with (Phillip) being there and the cellphone that traced him where he was all that day and when he was there," Weymouth said. "That's the two pieces of evidence I needed in my heart to put it all together."

Besides Frankel-Barton, Seth Frankel's father Richard Frankel, mother Emily Markiewicz, sister Caitlin Frankel-Rowe and girlfriend Bonny Johnson each spoke at the sentencing. No relatives or friends of Phillip spoke.

Darvas asked Phillip if he wanted to make a statement.

"No, your honor," Phillip said.

Phillip wore a red jail jumpsuit and restraints on his hands and feet because of his conviction. Five jail officers stood guard at three exits. Defense attorney Anuradha Luthra asked Darvas to permit removal of the restraints, but the judge denied the motion.

The relatives of Frankel displayed photos and a video of him as they showed the judge his love for family and life.

"He was loving, kind, funny and magical," said Markiewicz, his mother. "He just loved everybody. We all had a very close relationship."

Markiewicz brought pictures that showed her son and then duplicates of the same photo with Frankel missing, his face a white cutout.

"My life took a terrible turn and my son is gone," she said. "He's gone no matter how many memories I have, no matter how many pictures I have, I will never hear his voice again. He'll never call me up. He'll never say, 'I love you.' He'll never say, 'That's a stupid joke mom.' He'll never pick me up and carry me around the room. He will never be there again."

Johnson said it was easy to fall in love with Frankel.

"One thing that drew me to Seth was his love for this world," she said. "I could see it in his excitement for nature and music and especially his devotion to his daughters. So when he was murdered and so violently, I didn't understand how somebody in this world could do that to Seth."

Richard Frankel asked the judge to give the maximum sentence for the killer of his son.

"It's heinous that this murderer chose to take the life of a man with two young children," Frankel said. "I personally believe that this was part of his plan. He not only wanted to punish Seth and Bonny by murdering Seth. He also wanted to punish Seth by assuring that his daughters did not have his father as a part of their lives just as his father apparently did not play a significant role in his.

"We will never seen Seth again and never enjoy his warm and loving personality. All we have left are memories, photographs, loving thoughts and a handful of ashes."

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