Kevin Harper won't do time for murder in West Valley slayings

Kevin Harper won't do time for murder in West Valley slayings »Play Video
Photo by Michael Spears, Action News

YAKIMA, Wash.  -- The triple murder trial took its final unexpected turn, when it was revealed Kevin Harper would walk away from the case, free of murder charges.

Friends of the Goggins left the Yakima courtroom stunned and frustrated after the details of Kevin Harper's plea agreement were announced.

Harper pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing a firearm. And, possession of stolen property, for having the Goggins' stolen credit cards.

"Two weeks ago, we were provided additional information with regard to the investigation," said Yakima County Deputy Prosecutor Ken Ramm.

Ramm said that new information came from a witness. And, it changed the time prosecutors originally thought the murders happened by several hours.

"Which made a huge different in terms of Mr. Harper's, both his alibi and his ability to having to committed the crimes," said Ramm.

Prosecutors said they couldn't get a conviction.

Harper's lawyer says they had no choice.

"I would say impossible for Kevin Harper to have committed these offenses; that is the murder of the Goggins," said Harper's defense attorney Pete Mazzone.

With that, the aggravated murder charges for the deaths Bill, Pauline and Elizabeth Goggin were dropped. And, the prospect of a life sentence went away.

Now, the combined maximum sentence for the gun and stolen property charges is 15 years.

Prosecutors recommend a seven-year sentence with a chance to serve more than a year of that outside of jail. That recommendation comes in light of Harper's plea.

KIMA tried to speak with prosecutors but both Ken Ramm and Steven Jackson left the courtroom using a side entrance.

That leaves friends of the Goggins once again looking for answers.

"I'm stunned," said Rocky Faulconer. "Because it's been 18 months and we're back to ground zero. We have no idea, no direction, no people. You know? What went wrong? Where's our prosecuting attorney? Where's our sheriff's department?"

A deal no one saw coming is now done.

Kevin Harper will be sentenced at the beginning of January.