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Murder trial expected to start Tuesday in Kent for man accused of stabbing city employee

William L. Phillip goes on trial this week for the stabbing death of Seth Frankel, a city of Kent employee. - Kent Reporter, file photo
William L. Phillip goes on trial this week for the stabbing death of Seth Frankel, a city of Kent employee.
— image credit: Kent Reporter, file photo

The murder trial of the man accused of the 2010 stabbing death of Seth Frankel, a city of Kent employee and Auburn resident, is expected to start Tuesday in King County Superior Court in Kent.

Nearly three years after his arrest, William L. Phillip, 33, will go on trial for the first-degree murder charge. Judge Andrea Darvas will oversee the jury trial.

"Pre-trial motions and jury selection will take several days, so I wouldn’t expect opening statements until early next week," said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, in a Monday email.

Defense attorneys were granted several requests from King County Superior Court judges to continue the trial date over the last few years. Phillip waived his right to a speedy trial.

Wyman Yip, King County senior deputy prosecutor and Patrick Hinds, deputy prosecutor, will handle the state's case. Defense attorneys are Kristen Murray and Anuradha Luthra.

Phillip, of Portland, remains in custody at the county jail at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent with bail set at $1 million. He pleaded not guilty in March 2011 to a first-degree murder charge after being extradited from Portland.

The jury trial could last six weeks, according to court documents.

Frankel, 41, a city video-program coordinator, was killed May 21, 2010 inside his Auburn home. He was discovered the following day by a neighbor who was checking on his welfare, looked through a window, and saw the body.

Prosecutors allege that Phillip, a former boyfriend of the woman Frankel dated and lived with, drove to Auburn to kill Frankel because he was angry that someone else was dating the woman. Detectives connected Phillip to the murder through a blood-stained towel found at Frankel’s house as well as cellphone records that put Phillip near the home the night of Frankel's death.

Frankel's girlfriend told detectives that Phillip wanted a romantic relationship with her and spoke badly about Frankel even though he had never met him, according to charging papers. Phillip had seen a photo of Frankel that the girlfriend had and knew where he lived.

Auburn Police – with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service – arrested Phillip in December 2010 in Portland for Frankel's death.

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