|Name:||Robert Lee Yates|
|Birth Day:||May 27, 1952|
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He served in the U.S. military for over 18 years and earned 11 medals.
Yates was born on May 27, 1952 and grew up in Oak Harbor, Washington in a middle-class family that attended a local Seventh-day Adventist church. Before his birth, his grandmother murdered his grandfather with an axe in 1945.
Yates graduated from Oak Harbor High School in 1970. In 1975, he was hired by the Washington State Department of Corrections to work as a correction officer at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.
He has five children (four daughters and one son) with second wife Linda, whom he married in 1976. The children's birth years range from 1974 to 1989.
In October 1977, Yates enlisted in the United States Army, in which he became certified to fly civilian transport airplanes and helicopters. Yates was stationed in various countries outside the continental United States, including Germany and later Somalia and Haiti during the United Nations peacekeeping missions of the 1990s. Yates also served three years in the Army National Guard as a Helicopter Pilot from April 1997 through April 2000. He earned several commendation and service medals during his military career, including the US Army Master Aviator Badge.
The murders Yates committed between 1975 and 1998 in Spokane all involved sex workers who worked along Spokane's East Sprague Avenue. The victims were initially solicited for sex work by Yates, who would have sex with them (often in his 1979 Ford van), sometimes do drugs with them, then kill them and dump their bodies in rural locations. All of his victims died of gunshot wounds to the head. Eight of the murders were committed with a Raven .25-caliber handgun, and one attempted murder was linked to the same model of handgun.
Yates left the Army in April 1996, apparently a year and a half short of being eligible for his full retirement benefits and pension. At this time, the military was reducing its numbers, so he got his full retirement despite being short of the customary 20 years served.
On August 1, 1998, Yates picked up sex worker Christine Smith, who managed to escape after being shot, assaulted and robbed. She is Yates' only known attempted murder survivor. On September 19, 1998, Yates was asked to give a DNA sample to Spokane police after being stopped. He refused, stating that it was too extreme of a request for a "family man."
Yates was arrested on April 18, 2000, for the murder of Jennifer Joseph. After his arrest, a search warrant was executed on a 1977 white Corvette that he had previously owned. A white Corvette had been identified as the vehicle in which one of the victims had last been seen. Coincidentally, Yates had been pulled over in this vehicle while the Task Force was searching for it, but the field interview report was misread as saying "Camaro" not "Corvette," thus the incident was not realized until after Yates had been arrested.
After searching the Corvette, police discovered blood that they linked to Jennifer Joseph and DNA from Yates that they then tied to 12 other victims. In 2000, he was charged with 13 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder in Spokane County Superior Court. As part of a plea bargain in which Yates confessed to the murders to avoid the death penalty, he was sentenced to 408 years in prison. Charges were dropped in the murder of Shawn McClenahan, however in a statement made by Yates, he apologized to her family and the other victims.
In 2001 Yates was charged in Pierce County with the murders of two additional women. The prosecution sought the death penalty for the deaths of Melinda L. Mercer in 1997 and Connie Ellis in 1998, which were thought to be linked to the killings in Spokane County. On September 19, 2002, Yates was convicted of those murders and subsequently sentenced to death by lethal injection on October 3, 2002.
The 2002 death sentence was appealed on grounds that Yates believed his 2000 plea bargain to be "all-encompassing" and that a life sentence for 13 murders and a death sentence for two constituted "disproportionate, freakish, wanton and random" application of the death penalty. The arguments were rejected in 2007 by the Washington Supreme Court. A September 19, 2008 execution date was stayed by Chief Justice Gerry L. Alexander pending additional appeals.
In 2013, Yates's attorneys filed a habeas corpus petition in federal district court, stating that Yates is mentally ill and, "through no fault of his own ... suffers from a severe paraphilic disorder" that predisposed him to commit murder. The still-pending motion is regarded as a "long shot" by most observers. "I don't think Mr. Yates helps his cause by relying on the fact that he's a necrophiliac," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
In July 2015, the Washington Supreme Court once again rejected an effort by Yates to overturn his conviction and death sentence. After the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the death penalty violated the state constitution, Yates's death sentence, as well as that of Washington's other death row inmates, was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Currently, Robert Lee Yates is 70 years, 9 months and 22 days old. Robert Lee Yates will celebrate 71st birthday on a Saturday 27th of May 2023.
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