Northwest NEWS

March 15, 1999

Local News

First degree charges filed in Starling slaying

crime scene

King County Sheriff's officers investigated the area in Kingsgate Park where the body of Sarah Starling was found last week.

   by Chris Trujillo, staff reporter

   King County Prosecutors filed first degree murder charges against 19-year-old Thomas Mullin-Coston and 20-year-old Jason McDaniel on Friday afternoon in connection with the slaying of 15-year-old Sarah Starling, King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe said.

   Mullin-Coston, who was arrested shortly after Starling's body was found at Kingsgate Park last Wednesday night, is accused of strangling the girl until she lost consciousness while sitting in the driver's seat of her mother's 1998 Dodge Stratus. McDaniel, who was arrested in Spokane Saturday night, then dragged her body into the park and slashed her throat, leaving her to die.

   Later that night, a woman and an 8-year-old boy, who were walking through the park, found Starling's body. An autopsy report confirmed that Starling had died from a stab wound to her neck that had severed a major artery. Starling also suffered a blunt force injury to her head, resulting in injuries to her brain and a broken jaw, according to charging papers.

   "The murder of this young girl is yet another tragedy in a week of chilling and senseless crimes in King County," King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said.

   Upon arriving on the scene, police searched the park and found several drops of blood on the path. They also saw dirt and mud on the girl's clothing, which suggested that she had been dragged.

   Following the murder, the two men went to Burger King located at I-405 and NE 124th St. exit, where McDaniel washed the blood from his hands, according to a tape-recorded admission from Mullin-Coston. He went on to say that they threw the knife out near the restaurant. The following day police recovered a knife from the area, according to court papers.

   Mullin-Coston was interviewed several times the night Starling's body was found. However, his story changed on each occasion. The first time he was interviewed, he told police he had nothing to do with the murder, except that he had dropped McDaniel off at Kingsgate Park to look for Starling, who had been missing for at least a day. He told police that McDaniel called him later that evening saying, "I killed her, I killed her."

   Meanwhile, investigators were gathering statements from three women who were friends of the victim and the suspects. The three women told police McDaniel had talked about not only killing Starling, but also her entire family. According to the witnesses, who said the statements made by McDaniel came days and even weeks before the murder, McDaniel had learned that the family had some money and two brand new cars that he could steal and sell for money.

   The witnesses reported that they had also spoken to Coston-Mullin the night of the murder. It was then that he told them that he had choked Starling. Coston-Mullin said he had stayed in the car while McDaniel dragged her body into the park.

   Mullin-Costin is scheduled to be arraigned on Mar. 22. He is currently being held on $2 million bail. If convicted of murder in the first degree, both suspects could face 23 to 29 years in prison.