Trial To Begin for Man Charged in Goldmark Family Deaths
SEATTLE (AP) _ A self-proclaimed anti-communist warrior accused in the Christmas Eve bludgeoning deaths of a politically prominent family of four goes on trial for his life Tuesday.
David Lewis Rice, a one-time steelworker, will be tried in King County Superior Court on four counts of aggravated first-degree murder, the only crime in Washington punishable by death.
If convicted, Rice, 27, could face either death or life in prison without parole.
In a long confession to police and in rambling jailhouse interviews, Rice has acknowledged he used a toy gun to force his way into the home of lawyer Charles Goldmark on Dec. 24 as the family prepared a holiday celebration.
Prosecutors say Rice used chloroform and handcuffs to subdue Charles and Annie Goldmark and their sons, Colin, 10, and Derek, 12, before attacking the family with a knife and a steam iron.
Mrs. Goldmark, 43, died immediately. Her husband, 41, and their sons died in the following weeks.
Rice told interviewers he went to the Goldmark home to collect information from the lawyer, who he mistakenly believed was a communist.
″I considered myself a soldier in the fight against communism,″ he said, ″and sometimes soldiers have to kill.″
But Rice said he would have changed his plans had he known the Goldmark children were home.
″The kids were not my enemy,″ he said. ″They weren’t supposed to be there. I know now that what happened was a big, terrible blunder. What I have done was against my principles.″
Bill Downing and Bob Lasnik, two deputy King County prosecutors who teamed to win convictions against the three men charged in the 1983 Seattle Chinatown massacre of 13 people, are pressing the case against Rice.
The trial, before Judge Jim Bates, is expected to last about three weeks.
Rice is defended by Bill Lanning and Tony Savage, two veteran defense lawyers drawn together in this case by their opposition to the death penalty.
Lanning has pleaded his client innocent and innocent by reason of insanity and says he’ll press ahead with the insanity defense.
Lanning said in a weekend interview from his Whidbey Island farm that he’s unsure whether Rice will testify.
Much of the trial is expected to focus on Rice’s political beliefs, which are believed to have been a major motivation for the killings.
A prime topic may be the extent to which Rice’s thoughts were influenced by an ultraconservative, anti-tax organization called the Duck Club, based in Florida. He attended occasional meetings and has said a fellow member told him about Goldmark.
Goldmark was active in the Democratic Party and a leader in Sen. Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign in Washington state.
Goldmark’s father and mother, the late John and Sally Goldmark, were the victims of a right-wing attack in the 1950s. Accused of communist leanings during a political campaign, the elder Goldmark, who had served in the Legislature, sued for libel. In a celebrated case against newspaper publisher Ashley Holden, he won a $40,000 judgment.
Sally Goldmark was a communist at one time but renounced the party shortly after joining it.
Lanning is pressing his insanity defense, although Kenneth Muscatel, a clinical psychologist who examined Rice in January, said Rice clearly has ″schizoid and paranoid features″ and heard voices from outer space but was legally sane at the time of the slayings.