Trial to keep murderer locked up moves forward

Trial to keep murderer locked up moves forward »Play Video
TACOMA, Wash. -- A convicted killer will stay behind bars for now, even though he's already served a 15-year sentence for murder.

Prosecutors say Joseph Nissensohn is too dangerous to be released even though he has finished serving time.

From the moment Nissensohn walked into the courtroom on Friday, he argued. First he argued with his attorney, accusing him of working for the other side. Then he argued against the judge over his identity.

When the judge asked him for his name, Nissensohn said "well, I assume you know. It's in the record."

But the judge soon put an end to his combative behavior and ruled that the state can move forward with a new trial to see whether he can be civilly committed.

"Sir, you don't know what you are talking about. Basically, you are just arguing a bunch of gobbledygook," the judge said.

Prosecutors want Nissensohn commited to McNeil Island Commitment Center, a home for violent sex offender.

But Nissensohn's attorney argued that the man's original conviction back in 1989 was not for a sex crime.

"The fact (is) that Mr. Nissensohn was convictedwith murder in the second degree, there was no sexual motivation, special finding that (indicated) that (sexual motivation) was part of that," said attorney David LaCross.

But the state attorney general's office says it does not matter what the conviction was for. The office says the murder was sexually motivated since the victim was raped before her naked body was dumped on the side of the road. That being the case, the attorney general's office says, prosecutors will be ready to prove Nissensohn's sexual motivations at trial.

"Community safety is one of the two purposes behind the statute. And so, of course, that's paramount in this case, as it is in all of these sexually violent predator cases," said Assistant Attorney General Joshua Choate.

The court date for that civil commitment trial is set for Oct. 13.

Meantime, Nissensohn is suspected of six other murders in three other states. At some point, he could be extradited to California, where he's charged with the 1989 killing of a 15-year-old girl near Lake Tahoe. Police have also linked him to the 1981 death of two teenage girls in Monterey County.