Retired Seattle judge believes murder by prolific offender Travis Berge was ‘preventable’

Sep 17, 2020, 1:25 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm
A protester carries away a newly-placed park closure sign at an entrance to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone on June 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Travis Berge, a man who had at least 35 felony convictions and who was profiled in the “Seattle is Dying” documentary from KOMO, allegedly committed a murder-suicide Wednesday night at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.

Retired Seattle Judge Ed McKenna told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show that he first got word of this story late Wednesday from some police officers he knows. Basically, McKenna says, they told him that Berge killed his wife or girlfriend and then holed himself up in a water supply place in the park.

When SWAT went in, Dori clarified, Berge was at the bottom of a 12 foot tank that had 50 gallons of a 12% bleach solution. He also potentially had access to the water supply system while he was inside, as McKenna was told. But why was Berge even still walking the streets when he was a known offender?

“I’m aware that Mr. Berge has a pretty significant criminal history, and I also know that he was from another state,” McKenna said. “So I don’t know, and I’m not sure anybody really knows how many times he has been arrested or convicted because being from another state, he probably has history elsewhere as well.”

“And there’s a presumption that when a person is arrested, … that they will be released on their promise to appear,” he added. “Unless you can establish that a person is a likely danger to others, or they won’t appear. And, given Mr. Berge’s history, I think that’s highly likely in both cases and, unfortunately, found that to be the case.”

McKenna said this region can be a “magnet” for people to come from out-of-state as it is a largely drug-tolerant society and there’s readily available social services.

“I think there’s a lot of people that share your views of being disgusted by what’s happening. And, in reality, we have elected public servants who are wagering public safety on the highly unlikely chance that a person is going to be rehabilitated,” McKenna said. “And I really don’t think that anybody in their right mind would think that Travis Berge would voluntarily, or even involuntarily, engage in treatment to change his behavior. Clearly, he had a significant problem with methamphetamines, and that changes your brain structure.”

So to release him and expect he’ll make changes on his own is “unrealistic,” McKenna added.

“One of things that I’ve been an advocate for, for a long time, is an in-custody inpatient treatment facility where judges can order people to long-term treatment, where they can get the services that they need, and then only when they’re stable, should they be released,” he said. “And Mr. Berge might be alive today had we actually had something like that.”

The ideas from many of the politicians, county executives, and some judges in Seattle contribute to this, in part, McKenna said.

“I think they have some pretty extreme social ideas that, you know, you can engage in harm reduction. In other words, assist an individual while recognizing they’re still going to engage in drugs or alcohol, and continue to commit crimes,” he said. “And so long as they can reduce and lower that, that’s a success.”

“In my opinion, however, that’s continued victimization,” he added. “Somebody is going to continue to be victimized by engaging in that kind of thought process, and of course, we saw that today.”

McKenna says there is a very small number of people that are engaging in a very high number of crimes, which is contributing to the “revolving door” in the criminal justice system.

“It’s unfortunate our elected prosecutors simply are, you know, they’re engaging in that revolving door process,” he said.

“And I understand even Mr. Berge was one of the first people arrested at CHOP, and I don’t know what happened to him, but it’s unfortunate that he is still out of custody after he and many others are repeatedly arrested, prosecuted, and they are just back on the streets almost immediately,” the retired judge added.

Uncle Ike’s owner says rioters are regularly targeting his shops

McKenna agreed with Dori that this was “inevitable.”

“My heart goes out to the community because I really think this was a preventable situation, that had our elected officials simply taken a harsher stance on someone who we know can’t be rehabilitated or is unlikely to be rehabilitated without significant effort, I think it was just inevitable what happened,” he said. “And I simply have to place the blame where people had an opportunity to make some changes and they didn’t do it.”

It’s a prosecution driven system, McKenna explained.

“The prosecutors make bail recommendations to the court. They make release recommendations to the court. They make sentencing recommendations to the court. And if they’re lenient in those recommendations, then persons are going to simply walk the streets,” he said. “Granted, there’s a presumption of release, but when you have someone who you know is going to commit another crime, and probably a violent offense, judges should be looking at that differently.”

“And judges are under a lot of pressure from both prosecutors and defense,” he added. “… Judges, of course, want to keep their jobs, but really, if the prosecutor and defense are making the same recommendations, it’s really difficult for a judge to rule against them and not follow their joint recommendations.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Marysville School District...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Parent permission for Marysville school clubs becomes `hot button’ over LGTBQ issue

The intent to the proposed policy change, Atchley said, is to assure that parents “have the ability to know where their children are at all times.”
4 days ago
OlyToys, Don Wolph's toy refurbishing business in Olympia....
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Olympia Toy-Restorer ordered by County to kick disabled friend off his property

Wolph told Dori’s listeners, Thurston County officials have told him he and his wife of 47 years must evict their friend because “she cannot live on my property for more than 30 days.”
5 days ago
Sound Transit employee records video of homeless individuals on light rail. (Jason Rantz/KTTH Radio...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: The Sound Transit rolling drug den

Onboard: a series of apparently homeless drug addicts, riding the train while smoking various drugs or passed out across the seats.
7 days ago
A ferry and a tanker pass through the Puget Sound near Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market on March ...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Internal ferry system memos show PR image more important than service

The Washington State Ferry System preemptively slashed sailings rather than face ongoing negative publicity for possible service disruptions.
8 days ago
Bus driver Treva White   in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Metro driver worries about bus passengers’ exposure to secondhand drug smoke

How much secondhand smoke from drug users riding Metro Transit buses is too much? It’s something 22-year driver worries about for his passengers.
12 days ago
Marc Valladolid (Dori Monson Show)...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Mother of slain son believes justice system for teens ‘doesn’t make much sense’

The mother of a 22-year-old man shot and killed in Renton said she is nervously anticipating a court ruling involving the 14-year-old accused shooter.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Retired Seattle judge believes murder by prolific offender Travis Berge was ‘preventable’