Pat and Janice Yarr were murdered in their Quilcene home March 18, 2009. Five years later Michael J. Pierce of Sequim was convicted and sentenced for the murders, arson, and other charges. After his first appeal failed, Mr. Pierce filed a second appeal in November of 2018. Mr. Pierce argued insufficient evidence proved he committed the crimes and his double jeopardy rights had been violated by two mistrials. The Court of Appeals summarily rejected his claims.
In rejecting the appeal, the Court noted Mr. Pierce missed the filing deadline and needed to prove insufficient evidence, which he could not do. “Pierce’s statements to others and actions after the crimes are sufficient evidence.” “The disappearance of Pat Yarr’s .25-06 rifle following [the] murders and arson is sufficient evidence of theft of a firearm.” Ultimately, “Pierce’s entry into the Yarrs’ home to collect a debt while armed with a pellet pistol, shooting the Yarrs in their home, and subsequently taking items from the Yarrs is sufficient evidence of both burglary and robbery.”
The Court also rejected Mr. Pierce’s double jeopardy claims. “He was not sentenced for both murder and robbery, and there was evidence of an independent purpose of the robbery from the murder, so double jeopardy was not violated.” Likewise, his other claims failed as well because he consented to the first mistrial so he could get a Kitsap County jury, and the second mistrial was due to a manifest necessity. The Court concluded that “Pierce fails to show double jeopardy. Thus, his petition must be dismissed as time-barred.”
Prosecutor James Kennedy stated: “I hope this result brings a measure of peace to the surviving family. I thank the Court for making the right ruling and appreciate the hard work put in by Laura Mikelson, Phil Hunsucker, and Chris Ashcraft who all collaborated to achieve what I believe is a just result.”
Pierce, who had fourteen prior felony convictions at the time he committed the murders, was sentenced to 117 years in prison and ordered to pay $222,601.57 in restitution. He is currently housed in Walla Walla State Penitentiary.