Athan Found Guilty Of Murder In 22-Year-Old Case

Athan Found Guilty Of Murder In 22-Year-Old Case »Play Video
SEATTLE - Wednesday was a chaotic day in a Seattle courtroom, and a day of closure for the family of 13-year-old Kristen Sumstad.

Kristen's body was found stuffed in a cardboard box in Magnolia nearly 22 years ago.

Wednesday afternoon, it took a jury just 3 hours to convict John Athen of second degree murder. But by not finding him guilty of first-degree murder, they said in essence that the murder of Kristen was not pre-meditated.

But Athen will go to prison on the second-degree murder charge. And while family members were clearly disappointed Athen wasn't convicted of first-degree murder, prosecutors say they're pleased Athen will remain behind bars for years to come.

"I think justice has been done today," said prosecuting attorney Timothy Bradshaw.

Athen was just 14 at the time he strangled Kristen with a bathrobe belt. His arrest came 21 years later after a DNA match with semen. Seattle detectives reopened the case after they tricked Athen and got a sample of his DNA from an envelope he licked and sealed. Athens thought he was responding to a class-action lawsuit over parking tickets.

"We had to find some way creative and we decided to try it," said Seattle police detective Richard Gagnon. "We were out 74 cents, but it worked."

On the way out of the courtroom, Athen expressed his displeasure with the ruling by running and kicking at a television cameraman from a national news magazine, telling all cameramen to "get out of his face" before police led him away.

It's not clear yet how many years Athen will serve because the murder happened before sentencing guidelines went into effect.