Northwest NEWS

July 13, 1998

Local News

Ackley murder trial begins again

   by Woodinville Weekly staff

   SEATTLE--A Clearview man's double-murder trial got underway, again, with opening statements and testimony taken from several witnesses last week.
  
   King County prosecutors say Gary Dean Ackley, 28, killed his girlfriend's mother because he believed she was trying to take his children away from him and then killed a friend he confessed the murder to.
  
   But Ackley's attorneys say the state's case and evidence is "a lot of things which add up to nothing."
  
   Ackley is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Arlene Jensen, 53 and aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Stephanie Dittrick, 29.
  
   Family and friends of Jensen took the witness stand last Thursday, including her son, David Jensen, and mother, Alice Vermillion.
  
   Jensen's body was found in Woodinville in June, 1997 nearly a month after she disappeared from her Kingsgate condo. David Jensen testified he wished he'd taken the death threats Ackley made against his mother more seriously. Prosecutors say that Ackley threatened to kill Jensen in December, 1996 when she was helping care for his two children while his girlfriend, and Jensen's daughter, Julie Jensen, was sick.
  
   Vermillion told jurors that the defendant, a machinist, had a key to Jensen's home. David Jensen found the door to her home ajar May 27.
  
   Prosecutors say that cigarettes, clothing fibers and metal shavings found inside the residence, Ackley's car and where Jensen's body was found link the suspect to both crime scenes.
  
   But Ackley's attorneys, Jeff Ellis and Leo Hamaji, say he and Jensen made up for past difficulties in the days prior to her disappearance. They also say he was elsewhere when the murders occured.
  
   This is the second start to the trial which derailed in June during opening statements. Judge Norma Huggins declared a mistrial after ruling that comments Deputy Prosecutor Roger Davidheiser made violated Ackley's right to silence.
  
   The trial is expected to last six weeks.