A hearing to have a juvenile murder conviction vacated was not held in court Thursday as planned, and it is unclear if – or when – the motion will be brought before a judge.
Steven Rickards, who is now 29, pleaded guilty in 2002 to the 2001 murder of his 8-year-old sister Samantha by way of an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit to the criminal act but admits that the evidence would be likely to convict.
Rickards was 13 when he reportedly stabbed his sister more than 20 times before attempting to hide her body in a freezer in the family’s Mount Vernon home.
Rickards was sentenced to eight years in detention, the maximum sentence that was allowed.
Last month, at Rickards’ request, Skagit County Superior Court Judge Dave Svaren sealed Rickards’ juvenile file – and with it information about future court dates.
State law allows juveniles who are convicted of certain crimes – including murder but excluding ones of a sexual nature – who have served their time and gone a span of eight years without committing any other crimes to have their court records sealed, meaning those records are no longer available to the public.
At the time the records were sealed, Rickards’ lawyer, Corbin Volluz, had intended to bring the motion to vacate the murder conviction – meaning the conviction would not appear on a background check – before Svaren, but then requested it be delayed until Thursday.
Volluz, however, apparently had the motion stricken Thursday without informing the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office, which previously stated it is opposed to vacating the conviction.
While the matter might be rescheduled, any future court dates will likely fall under Svaren’s previous seal, meaning the public will likely not know when, or if, the conviction is vacated.