Teen Changes Plea To Guilty In Ephrata Murder

Teen Changes Plea To Guilty In Ephrata Murder
EPHRATA - Jake Lee Eakin, one of two boys who were believed to be the youngest murder defendants to be charged as adults in state history, pleaded guilty Thursday in Grant County Superior Court to second-degree murder by complicity.

Eakin and Evan Drake Savoie, both 14, were accused in the Feb. 15, 2003, slaying of Craig Sorger, a special education student who was beaten and stabbed repeatedly at a recreational vehicle park here. Both boys, who were 12 at the time of the killing, had originally pleaded innocent to first-degree murder.

Eakin also gave a statement admitting his involvement in the crime he says was committed by Evan Savoi.

In his statement to the court, Eakin says that he went to Oasis Park in Ephrata on Feb. 15, 2003 to play. Earlier that day, Savoi had told him he was thinking of going on a killing spree, perhaps killing the owner of the store at Oasis Park.

Eakin's attorneys say their client, who was then 12, could not read, could not write, and believed it was just Savoi talking.

Later, the boys went to he park after stopping at the home of Craig Sorger, who was 13.

Eakin's attorney, Michele Shaw, told the court that Eakin and Sorger were playing on the ground when Sorger heard Eakin say something like, "it starts now."

Shaw said at that point, Savoi was carrying a large rock, saying he was trying to "build up his strength."

Moments later, Shaw said Savoi told Sorger to count to 10. At the count of 9, he brought the rock down somewhere where near Sorger's neck.

Sorger reportedly tried to run twice from the park. But before Sorger escaped, Eakin told his attorney he thought he saw Savoi punching Sorger repeatedly. But then he saw blood and realized he must have been using the knife he had shown Eakin earlier.

When Eakin tried to leave, he said Savoi called after him using expletives. Eakin said he returned, hitting Sorger about a dozen times with a stick.

Shaw says she believes Sorger was already dead at that time.

Eakin has agreed to testify against Savoi. Prosecutors and defense attorneys both recommend an 8 year sentence so that Eakin would be released when he was 21. But judge Ken Jorgensen imposed a 14-year sentence with two years credit for time served, adding he didn't think the defense claim that Eakin struggled in school should factor into his decision.

"My exposure to Jake has not convinced me that he is, I think he's fairly bright to be honest with you," Jorgensen said.

Before being sentenced he apologized to the Sorger's family.

"I'm sorry that I brought so much pain and broken hearts to your family. I just wish that I could do something to fill the missing hole in your family. I made a mistake and caused that hole," he said.

Eakin's family left the courtroom in tears; his mother, who declined comment, cried repeatedly, "My poor child; my poor child."

Lawyers for Savoi have filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge against him. A hearing on that motion has been tentatively set for May 5.

Eakin and Savoie have been in custody since their arrests days after the killing. They were scheduled to stand trial May 16.

In February, the state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on the ruling to try them as adults.

A first-degree murder conviction for an adult carries a standard sentencing range of 20 to 26 years in prison. A juvenile conviction would allow a defendant to be released at age 21.

KOMO 4 News' Bryan Johnson contributed to this report.