The tragic death of a 22-year old University of Washington student has led to first-degree murder charges for her accused killer. Katy Straalsund was allegedly beaten and strangled to death by her boyfriend, Casey Henderson. Henderson is 21-years old and also a student at the University of Washington. He had another girlfriend in addition to Straalsund, according to the Seattle Times. Neighbors in the apartment complex where the incident took place reportedly "heard Henderson yelling and threatening her for 20 minutes before beating and choking her." When officers arrived at the Straalsund's apartment one of the officers could see that Henderson had Straalsund in a chokehold through a glass door. Officers "forced their way into the apartment, pulled Henderson off his girlfriend and started performing CPR on her." The couple had been dating for six months.
Henderson allegedly told officers at the scene he had taken the drug LSD. He also told officers he had punched and kicked the victim. In addition, "[p]olice say the suspect told detectives he became paranoid and believed his girlfriend was plotting against him before he began beating her." Unfortunately, Straasland died two days later from her injuries. Henderson was subsequently charged with first-degree murder. He is currently being held on $2 million bail. The bail was originally set at $1 million, but was increased after prosecutors became concerned that Henderson might be a flight risk.
Murder is one of the most serious crimes a defendant can be charged with. In Washington, homicide is defined as " the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another, death occurring at any time, and is either (1) murder, (2) homicide by abuse, (3) manslaughter, (4) excusable homicide, or (5) justifiable homicide." See RCW 9A.32.010. First-degree murder is defined under RCW 9A.32.030 in relevant part as:
(1) A person is guilty of murder in the first degree when:
(a) With a premeditated intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of such person or of a third person; or (b) Under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life, he or she engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to any person, and thereby causes the death of a person; or (c) He or she commits or attempts to commit the crime of either (1) robbery in the first or second degree, (2) rape in the first or second degree, (3) burglary in the first degree, (4) arson in the first or second degree, or (5) kidnapping in the first or second degree, and in the course of or in furtherance of such crime or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant, causes the death of a person other than one of the participants:
First-degree murder is a class A felony in Washington. The sentence for murder in the first degree can be up to life in prison. See RCW 9A.32.040.