The rape charge in the Mandy Stavik murder case was dismissed. Here’s why

Timothy Bass enters not guilty plea in 1989 murder case

Timothy Forrest Bass pleads not guilty at his arraignment on Friday, Dec. 22, in Bellingham. Bass is charged with first-degree murder.
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Timothy Forrest Bass pleads not guilty at his arraignment on Friday, Dec. 22, in Bellingham. Bass is charged with first-degree murder.

The first-degree rape charge in the 28-year-old murder case against Timothy Forrest Bass will be dismissed due to statute of limitations concerns.

Bass, 50, of Everson is accused of the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik of the Acme area.

Bass’ attorney, Shoshana L. Paige, filed a motion May 10 in Whatcom County Superior Court to dismiss the first-degree rape charge. Paige argued the statute of limitations to charge Bass expired on Nov. 27, 1999, 10 years after the alleged incident occurred, according to court records.

“We have always viewed the evidence of sexual assault in this case as weak, and we’ve maintained Bass’ innocence on all charges in this case. The statute of limitations was a procedural way to dismiss that charge,” Paige, a senior deputy public defender, said Thursday. “We are very gratified the charge has appropriately been dismissed.”

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. Bass was identified sometime in late 2017 through DNA found on evidence a fellow employee turned over to detectives.

Paige argued in the motion 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 in 1989.

Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney David McEachran said when he looked at the case he thought there was an argument around the statute of limitations, and filed the additional charge against Bass on Jan. 30. Ultimately he said the charge had to be put in perspective and agreed the law can’t be retroactively applied.

A judge is expected to sign the order of dismissal sometime Thursday.

Bass, who was arrested Dec. 12 by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, still faces a first-degree murder charge. Suspects can be charged with first-degree murder in Washington state if they either attempted to commit or did commit the crime of rape or kidnapping and then fled, which resulted in the victim’s death. There is no statute of limitations for murder.

Bass’ trial has been tentatively set for Nov. 5, and he remains in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

If convicted, he could face 20 years to life in prison, with a $50,000 fine. The death penalty cannot be sought in this case because Bass is not charged with premeditated murder, McEachran said.

Bass Arraignment 1
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.

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 3½ 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 indicated a blow to the head that could have knocked her unconscious, according to court records. 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.

Semen was removed from Stavik’s body and preserved, and a DNA profile was created from the evidence taken from her autopsy. After Bass denied to voluntarily give a sample of his DNA several times when asked by law enforcement, his coworker at Franz Bakery north of Bellingham saw Bass drink out of a plastic cup and Coke can and turned the items in to authorities. Bass’ DNA matched the suspect profile, the records state.

The chance investigators would select a random, unrelated citizen in the U.S. with a matching DNA profile is 1 in 11 quadrillion, the records state.

When Bass was interviewed by investigators in December, he initially denied any contact or sexual relations with Stavik. After he was told about the matching DNA profile, Bass indicated he had a consensual intimate relationship with Stavik prior to her disappearance, according to court records.

ABC’s investigative series “20/20” will premiere “30 Years Searching,” a two-hour special on this case at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt
Follow more of our reporting on Timothy Bass on trial for Mandy Stavik’s death

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