Statute of limitations questioned in Mandy Stavik 1989 murder case

Timothy Forrest Bass pleads not guilty at his arraignment on Dec. 22, 2017 in Bellingham. He is accused in the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik of the Acme area in Whatcom County.
Timothy Forrest Bass pleads not guilty at his arraignment on Dec. 22, 2017 in Bellingham. He is accused in the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik of the Acme area in Whatcom County.

It’s possible the rape charge against Timothy Forrest Bass, the Everson man accused in the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik of the Acme area, could be dismissed, according to new papers filed in the case.

Bass’ attorney, Shoshana L. Paige, filed a motion to dismiss the first-degree rape charge Thursday, based on an expired statute of limitations. Paige argued the statute of limitations to charge Bass expired on Nov. 27, 1999, 10 years after the alleged incident occurred.

In Washington state, the statute of limitations for first-degree rape runs 10 years from the date of the crime, or a year from when the offender is identified through DNA testing, whichever date is later.

Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney David McEachran filed the additional charge against Bass on Jan. 30. Bass was identified sometime in late 2017 through DNA found on a plastic glass and Coke can a fellow Franz Bakery employee gave to detectives, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

Bass’ DNA profile matched that of the DNA found in Stavik’s body, according the records. Investigators said the chance they would select a random, unrelated citizen in the U.S. with a matching DNA profile was 1 in 11 quadrillion.

Paige argued the charge should be dismissed because the current writing of the law that allows someone to be charged up to a year after they were identified through DNA testing didn’t go into effect until 2006 and it can’t be retroactively applied to the alleged rape of Stavik, according to the motion.

“A prosecution barred by the running of the statute of limitations cannot be revived by a later amendment of the statute,” Paige wrote in the motion.

McEachran said in an interview Friday he was reviewing the motion and would have a response to it by Monday or Tuesday.

“The statute of limitations on a case this age is always a concern,” McEachran said in reference to the rape charge, noting that there is no statute of limitations for murder.

Bass, 50, is currently facing a first-degree murder charge and the rape charge. His trial has been tentatively set for Nov. 5. Bass remains in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

The death penalty cannot be sought in this case because Bass is not charged with premeditated murder, McEachran said.

Bass was arrested Dec. 12 by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged Dec. 14 with first-degree murder. If convicted, he could be sentenced from 20 years to life in prison and face up to a $50,000 fine.

The case

Stavik went missing Nov. 24, 1989 while jogging near her home on Strand Road in Clipper, a community clustered along Highway 9 between Acme and Van Zandt. She was home for Thanksgiving break from her freshman year at Central Washington University and was last seen around 2:30 p.m. that day with her German shepherd dog, Kyra.

Stavik’s body was found three days later in the south fork of the Nooksack River, about 3 ½ miles from the family’s home. Stavik’s cause of death was drowning, according to an autopsy done by Whatcom County medical examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel.

Goldfogel also found a blood clot on the back of Stavik’s head, which was indicative of a blow to the head that could have knocked her unconscious, according to court records.

Semen was removed from her body and preserved, authorities said. No injuries were observed on her body, other than a few superficial scratches stretching from her thighs to her knees, which could have been caused by running through the brush.

A DNA profile was created from evidence taken during Stavik’s autopsy. After Bass denied to voluntarily give a sample of his DNA several times when he was asked by law enforcement, his coworker at Franz Bakery saw Bass drink out of a plastic cup and Coke can and turned in the items to authorities.

Bass’ DNA matched the DNA suspect profile, according to court records.

Franz Bakery was widely criticized on social media after reports that the company failed to cooperate during the investigation. Officials for the Oregon-based bakery company said they weren’t provided a search warrant or subpoena by the sheriff’s office to provide Bass’ DNA.

Franz said sheriff’s detectives asked for informal permission to swab a company truck that Bass drove for DNA, but didn’t provide the company with legal documentation.

Bass was a delivery driver for a Franz Bakery Outlet store at 156 Kelly Road, in an unincorporated area off Guide Meridian north of Bellingham.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt
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