Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson

WEEKEND REWIND: Port Ludlow man, 34, sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing of girlfriend

PORT TOWNSEND — A 34-year-old Port Ludlow man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on manslaughter charges stemming from the July killing of his 20-year-old girlfriend.

Evan Daniel Thompson, who pleaded guilty to killing Virginia Castaneda, was taken to Shelton for intake into the state prison system immediately after the sentence was announced Friday.

After the sentencing, more than 30 of Castaneda’s friends, fellow tribal members and family paid tribute to her with a prayer circle on the front lawn of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Miss her

“We will always miss Virginia,” one person said of Castaneda, who was a Quileute tribal member who grew up in La Push.

“But she is now in a better place.”

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper said he chose the upper middle area of the 10-to-18-year sentencing range on the recommendation of the prosecutor and the state Department of Corrections.

“I have seen no basis to go above or below the middle range here,” Harper said.

“I have considered all the evidence and think this is a fair balance.”

Castaneda’s family members asked that Thompson receive the maximum while Scott Charlton, Thompson’s attorney, recommended the lower range due to Thompson’s mental condition.

Mental condition

Michael Haas, Jefferson County prosecuting attorney, said Thompson was evaluated at Western State Hospital, by the Department of Corrections and by Dr. Kenneth Muscatel, who was hired by the defense.

Haas said evaluators found “specific signs of paranoia and delusional thinking” along with excessive cannabis use, although its influence on Thompson’s actions was not addressed.

According to Charlton: “Dr. Muscatel’s assessment is that Evan was suffering from a psychotic disorder at the time of the murder which affected his thinking, his judgment, his perceptions and his sense of reality.

“From the outset, Mr. Thompson has co-operated with law enforcement,” he continued.

“By acknowledging his guilt, he has shown a willingness to accept responsibility for his conduct.”

The courtroom was full. More than 40 of Castaneda’s family and friends sat on one side while the other held about 14 of Thompson’s supporters.

Thompson was wearing a bright-orange jumpsuit and was in chains during the hearing.

Thompson was accused of killing Castaneda on July 23 at his parents’ home at 1771 Swansonville Road in Port Ludlow.

Deputies arrived after a 5:32 a.m. call to find Castaneda dead inside the house and Thompson lying in the backyard with cuts on his wrists and a gunshot wound to his head that investigators said was self-inflicted.

He was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment and then transferred to the Jefferson County jail.

Thompson never denied his guilt but told deputies that Castaneda was working with a government agency to form a case against him.

Two of Castaneda’s family members, her grandmother Shelly Black and her sister, Charlotte Jackson, delivered statements that were alternately mournful and angry.

Smile lit up room

“Virginia was the kind of person who could talk to everybody, and her smile lit up the room,” Jackson said.

“Virginia touched many lives,” Black said.

“She was an innocent young woman who led a very simple life, and she was a loyal auntie to her niece and nephew.

“We as adults can barely fathom how she isn’t coming home anymore, but these children’s lives have been shattered.”

Speaking directly to Thompson, Black criticized him for constantly saying she wasn’t taking good care of him when it was he who should have taken care of her.

“There is no excuse for what you’ve done,” Black said.

“She loved you and trusted you with her life, and you took that love and abused it.

“This wasn’t just murder; it was child abuse.”

Black said the proscribed penalty range wasn’t enough punishment for the crime, that Thompson should serve the maximum that the law allows.

“Virginia will never get to go home,” she said. “Why should you?”

Mental health issues

Thompson spoke for about five minutes on his own behalf, saying he has read several books on mental health issues “to try to figure out what’s wrong with me.”

Thompson’s statement was inaudible to all in the gallery but was picked up by the courtroom microphones, meaning that only those with court-supplied headphones could hear what he was saying.

Thompson said he needs to change but can’t change by himself.

“Remorse is a word with a literal burden. You say it out loud and feel your heart cry out for mercy,” he said.

Thompson said Castaneda was beautiful, intelligent, honest, kind, caring and devout.

“I miss her and I love her and I need to stand up for what I have done in the name of the Lord,” he said.

“I pray for her family and hope that one day they can forgive me.”

After the courtroom emptied and a prayer circle was completed, Black passed by a group that included Tracy Thompson, Evan Thompson’s mother.

“I didn’t want to talk to you before,” Black said, acknowledging that she had been avoiding any contact with the Thompsons.

“I didn’t want to say something really mean.”

________

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or [email protected]

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