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Fatal stabbing at Seattle City Hall park stirs questions about suspect's release on bond

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 6/22/2021 Matt Markovich, KOMO News reporter
Fatal stabbing at Seattle City Hall park stirs questions about suspect's release on bond
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Questions are being raised about the man who admitted to police that he had killed another homeless man at an encampment located in the park next to the King County Courthouse. 

Michael Sedejo had been accused of assaulting another man at City Hall Park in April but was released from jail after a bail reform group paid his bail.

According to court documents, Sedejo admitted to police after his arrest Thursday that he killed Bradley Arable after the two men had fought. He allegedly told police that he was trying to strangle Arable when the victim possibly used a box cutter to slash at Sedejo’ s back and neck.

Sedejo told police he pulled a knife from his sock and stabbed Arable multiple times including what Sedejo believed was a fatal thrust into the victim’s chest.

Police said in the documents that Sedejo showed “no remorse for his actions and that only God could judge him."

But that was not the first assault Sedejo had been accused of committing at the camp in the park.

On April 21, he was arrested for assaulting Richard Weisgerber, who was homeless himself but was taking pictures of tents at the park to document the plight of the unsheltered.

Caption: A man whose bail was paid for by a non-profit group was released from jail before slaying a man who lived at the same homeless encampment.

“He threw me on the ground," Weisgerber said of the assault that left him bloodied with a swollen face. “He’s punching me in the eye and even though he's punching me in the eye, a second guy came up and between the two of them they stole my camera.”

Later, Sedejo allegedly struck Weisgerber’ s legs with a stick when he tried to get his camera back.

What followed has some raising questions about the state of our current criminal justice system. 

Sedejo would be eventually be released from jail after judges reduced the bail amount prosecutors wanted.

“What we asked for is for this person to be held in jail because we believed he was going to commit another violent act," said Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s office. "Folks didn't agree with us (and) unfortunately he got out an killed a guy.” 

Prosecutors had asked for Sedejo to remain in jail with bail set at $50,000. 

 Sedejo is homeless and told police he had been living at the camp for a year. King County District Court Judge Joe Campa reduced this bail to $20,000.

During his arraignment for second-degree robbery and fourth-degree assault, King County Superior Court Judge Melinda Young reduced the bail to $5,000.

The next day on May 6, Northwest Community Bail Fund, a non-profit organization, posted the $5,000 cash bail and Sedejo was released from jail. 

No one from the group behind the fund responded to inquiries from KOMO News about their involvement.

According to their website, the organization said it is a non-profit group  that advocates for bail reform and covers the bail expense for poor people who would otherwise spend pre-trial time in jail.

“This is our worst nightmare," said Jim Rogers, the presiding judge for King County Superior Court. "Really we just need action now.” 

For months, judges and court staff have been complaining about the camp as a source of crime, drug dealing, prostitution and assault both physical and verbal on court staff and jurors.

Because the camp is located at City Hall Park and is the responsibility of Seattle City Hall, Rogers wants the city to immediately clear the camp.

“It needs to happen right now before somebody else is killed,” he said.

Email requests about the camp’s immediate future to the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan were not immeditely answered.

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