Man sentenced to more than 13 years for child rape after conviction reversed

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 22, 2014 

A Mukilteo man who sexually abused a Lynden girl was sentenced to about 13 years to life in prison Wednesday, May 21, after his case was sent back to Whatcom County Superior Court for retrial.

Larry Lee Grubb, 60, was originally sentenced to about 23 years in prison when his case first went to trial in 2009. He had been convicted of seven counts of first-degree child rape for assaulting an 8-year-old girl over a period of two and a half years when he visited her family's home.

Instead of going through the process of retrying the case, Grubb pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree child rape. He'll get credit for the more than four years that he has already served, so he'll serve a minimum of about nine years in prison. A review board will determine when he can get out after his minimum sentence is served.

His case was sent back to Whatcom County for retrial because the Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that his right to a public trial was violated during jury selection.

At the time of Lee's trial, judges would sometimes close the courtroom if jurors wanted to confide their personal history and how it might prejudice the case, especially if the crime was related to sexual assault or domestic violence. But a Washington state ruling in 2009, State v. Strode, found that kind of closure could be grounds for a retrial because defendants have a constitutional right to a public trial, according to the Court of Appeals. Exceptions are outlined in what's called the Bone-Club analysis, a five-point test named after a court case that originated in Whatcom County in the 1990s.

In Grubb's case, four potential jurors were individually questioned in judge's chambers with the judge, Grubb, his attorney and the prosecutor present.

Reach Zoe Fraley at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or 360-756-2803. Read the Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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