‘I’ve done a horrendous thing’: Panther Lake man sentenced in killings of his parents

Vincent Housley at left

Vincent Housley at left

Just moments after Dennis Housley watched a judge sentence his older brother Vincent Housley on Friday to 50 years in prison for killing their parents, he told a half-dozen reporters about how much his parents had tried to help his brother.

“They were very concerned,” Dennis, 40, said of his late parents Joe and Karen Housley, as he stood outside the courtroom at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. “They wanted to make sure their son was taken care of and would not end up on the street.”

That’s the reason the Panther Lake couple had allowed Vincent Housley, 43, to move back home last year, Dennis Housley said. They wanted to help him fight his drug problem so he could get his life back together after his marriage broke up. They wanted him to be a strong father for his 8-year-old daughter.

But on Feb. 1, all of that changed forever. Vincent Housley walked into the home they shared and used two knives and a baseball bat in a cocaine-induced rage to kill Joe, 66, and Karen, 67. The attacks came, ironically, after an argument he had with them about his drug use.

Friday in court, Vincent Housley was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

“This crime is one of the most brutal and senseless crimes the state has seen,” said John Castleton, senior deputy prosecuting attorney, to King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas before the sentencing. “Their son was living at their house. They allowed him to live at their house because of their concern for his drug problem and after he separated from his wife.”

Housley even sold off cars and other belongings of his parents before and after the killings to support his drug habit, Castleton said.

Housley, who had pleaded guilty Feb. 23 to two counts of first-degree murder, on Friday acknowledged the magnitude of what he did.

“I’ve done a horrendous thing,” Housley told the judge. “It’s something I can never take back. I am very sorry for what I did. I don’t remember doing it, but I take responsibility.”

Vincent Housley then turned toward his younger brother, seated in the second row of the courtroom, between his wife and his aunt.

“Dennis, I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” he said.

Castleton recommended a sentence of 55 years, just short of the maximum 60-year sentence. Rick Lichtenstadter, defense attorney, recommended a minimum sentence of 44 years. Judge Darvas handed out the 50-year sentence.

“No matter what sentence I give, you will spend the rest of your life in prison and that’s the way it should be,” Darvas said. “I think 50 years is an appropriate sentence because two people will never walk the earth again because of the actions you took.”

According to charging papeers, detectives arrested Housley Feb. 5 at a Tukwila motel. The arrests came after Dennis Housley found his parents dead Feb. 4 in their Panther Lake home, after coming up from his home in Portland to check on them.

“I feel the sentence was fair,” Dennis Housley said Friday outside the courtroom, following the sentencing. “My brother, I love him and it’s tough to see what happened. But I won’t talk down about him. I’ll support him anyway I can. The next 50 years will be tough. But I’ll be there as much as I can to comfort him.”

Dennis Housley said his brother had battled drug problems since the age of 18, although he had about a 10-year period when he was clean. But the last five years or so, Vincent Housley fell back into his old drug habits, Dennis noted.

“He was trying really hard, but he didn’t get any better,” his younger brother said. “He tried to get clean.”

Limited reaction

Vincent Housley kept a somber expression during most of the 35-minute court proceeding as he sat without handcuffs next to his attorney. Housley nodded his head several times as the judge spoke to him. He did not look back at his relatives when he was escorted in handcuffs back to jail.

Because Housley had pleaded guilty at his arraignment in February, family members on Friday asked Judge Darvas to show some leniency.

“The sentencing today may or may not give us closure or peace,” Vincent Housley’s niece Nicole McDonald told Darvas. “We have lost Joe and Karen forever. My cousin was there at the birth of my son, and my son and his daughter are weeks apart. I ask that a little bit of leniency be given to him.”

Dennis Housley also addressed the judge before the sentencing.

“My parents were loving and caring people and they tried to help my brother,” he said. “My parents were loved by many people and we shared many good times on vacations and at car shows. This put a huge hole in a lot of people’s lives. It’s not that I don’t love my brother, but he needs to pay for what he did. I miss my parents immensely. We will never have another Thanksgiving or Christmas together again.”

Gordon Glasgow, of Renton, a friend of the family, spoke on behalf of Vincent Housley.

“You could always count on him to be at a club event and if someone had a problem with a car, he came to help,” Glasgow said, describing the family’s involvement in local car clubs, and the way Vincent Housley was when drugs weren’t distorting his personality. “He helped one of our members, a race-car driver, when he got up at 3 in the morning and drove a transmission down to Portland. That’s what he was like when he was not suffering from his addiction.”

Glasgow said he watched Vincent Housley try to overcome addiction that started to destroy his life and marriage. He said he’d spoken to Vincent after the killings.

“He understands what he has done,” Glasgow said. “He’s not a person who shares his feelings easily, but he told me after he pleaded guilty that he was not going to try to find an easy way out. I’ll continue to be his friend and support him and the rest of his family.”

Darvas, in response, said even though Vincent Housley was in a rage induced by the cocaine in his system, he had made the decision to kill his parents.

“This is a very tragic situation for everyone involved – you, your parents, family and friends,” she noted.

Outside the courtroom, Dennis Housley tried to summarize how much life has changed for himself, his brother and relatives and friends of his parents.

“It’s a huge tragedy to live with,” he said. “Life sucks for a lot of people.”


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