Man tries to plead no contest in teen's killing

Man tries to plead no contest in teen's killing
Clarence E. Williams is seen during his arraignment hearing in King County Superior Court on Tuesday, November 20, 2007.
SEATTLE -- A man charged with the 1978 rape and murder of a 15-year-old Seattle girl tried to plead no contest at his arraignment on Tuesday.

Clarence E. Williams stood in a prison jump suit in King County Superior court and appeared to catch his lawyer off guard as he told the judge he wanted to enter a plea of "no contest" for the killing of Sara Beth Lundquist.

Williams' lawyer intervened and the judge agreed to enter no plea so Williams and his lawyer can discuss the situation.

A no contest plea is not technically an admission of guilt, but it could allow a judge to find a defendant guilty of the charges.

Sara Beth Lundquist

Lundquist's body was found inside a bathroom at a tire shop in North Seattle after her mother reported her missing, but the case remained unsolved for nearly 30 years.

In 2005, Seattle Police Detective Michael Ciesynski, reviewed the case and submitted DNA samples taken from the crime scene to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.

According to a statement of probable cause filed with the charges, the DNA was a match for Williams, who was already serving a life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of Laura Ann Baylis, who was killed two months after Lundquist.

Williams, 62, was found guilty of stabbing 21-year-old Baylis 19 times, then leaving her body inside the closet of a boarded-up house in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

When detectives interviewed Williams in jail, court documents say he responded, "You're asking me to remember something that happened 30 years ago."

Confronted with the report matching his DNA to evidence from the murder scene, Williams allegedly shrugged and said, "What can I say?"

In court on Tuesday, Lundquist's uncle said his family was hopeful that the situation could be resolved without having to put Sara's mother through a trial.

"It's some relief to know that he's been incarcerated since October 1978," Jim Abbot said. "Our family's really grateful to detective Mike Ciesynski and the Seattle Police Department."

John Abbott, another uncle, said the family was surprised upon learning of the arrest after so many years, but pleased that Sara's killer may finally be brought to justice.

"Hopefully we'll get kind of solution we need for him never to see the light of day again," John said. "That would be our wish."