Why Mukilteo shooter’s lawyer released suspect’s ‘suicide’ note

Aug 3, 2016, 6:28 AM | Updated: 8:52 am

The 19-year-old accused of murdering three people at a party in Mukilteo wrote a letter. His former attorney released that letter — with consent from the man’s family — to police because of concerns that it was a suicide note.

Allen Ivanov allegedly went to a Mukilteo party July 30 with an AR-15 rifle and opened fire. Three people, including his ex-girlfriend, were killed. A fourth person remains in serious condition. He reportedly wrote a note that included messages to his relatives and friends.

To his mom, he wrote “I wish I was everything you wanted. You’re such a strong, independent women who knows exactly what she wants and where to get it.” To his father: “I wish I could have helped you around the house more. I looked up to you because you had a solution for everything. I asked too many questions when we worked together and I figured you became tired of answering them. I never wanted to stop learning. Sorry for breaking promises.” He also allegedly wrote: “If you weren’t on this list, you never wanted the best for me. I don’t [redacted] with you, I’ll see you in the next life.”

Related: Mukilteo shooter’s lawyer says tragedy was ‘compounded by the tools’ available

This letter was released by Steven Kim, who was the attorney hired by Ivanov’s family after the shooting. Kim is no longer working with the family. He told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that he met the family through other attorney references and was retained at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

“For reasons that I obviously cannot express for the rules of professional conduct, I was dismissed of my duties as of, I believe, Monday at about 11:35 a.m.,” he said.

Kim said the letter was given to him by Ivanov’s mother.

“She wanted me to hold onto it,” he said. “I read it and because of the rules of professional conduct, I felt that I needed to disclose this to the police because I thought that the letter showed that he was explicitly suicidal.

“On top of that, I received consent from my client’s father to release the letter to the police on Sunday morning as well.”

Kim explained to Dori that rules of client-attorney privilege are sacred, but that he is required to disclose information that he feels requires safety concerns for the client or others.

“When I read the letter, I had no choice but to disclose that to law enforcement,” he said.

Kim said he could not comment on whether the family was upset about the decision. Kim said he’d already started formulating a strategy when he was on his way to meet Ivanov, though he wouldn’t say what that was.

“As a prosecutor for 15 years at King County, and having just left six months ago, this was a pretty serious case,” he said. “But having prosecuted a lot of cases like this, I kind of understand where you need to go on the defense angle and I did go on a certain angle that I was pretty much committed to doing. In fact, I had made multiple phone calls to certain experts that I have worked with in the past to prepare for this type of defense. I’m not going to tell you what that was because I don’t know what this new team is planning on doing.”

Speaking hypothetically, Kim said defense teams have multiple potential defenses for defending a guilty client – starting with whether the state can prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. That includes the state being able to identify the suspect and being able to disprove self-defense.

“There is obviously mental defense,” he said. “I recently worked on a case where I got a not guilty by reason of insanity where expert witnesses rendered the opinion that my client was insane at the time of this incident and could not have formed the intent to commit the crime because of his mental state. There is also diminished capacity – I was too drunk or too high to really know what I was doing, therefore, I couldn’t have committed premeditated murder or committed attempted robbery, couldn’t have committed rape. So you can kind of go down the list of all these defenses.”

He added that not every case should be pleaded not guilty.

“They need to have a good-faith belief that they have a legitimate defense before you go,” he said. “There are plenty of clients where defense attorneys have to go back and say, ‘Dude, you’ve got to plead guilty, there’s no defense.’”

Kim added that, even after his years as a prosecutor dealing with victims and victims’ families, that he couldn’t imagine being on the other end of a case like the one in Mukilteo.

“I just can’t imagine. Having two children myself, to have a child taken away from you in the manner that it was is absolutely heartbreaking,” he said. “And I can’t even pretend to know what that feels like.

“I had a tough time with the story, I actually had a tough time with actually taking the case,” he added. “I consulted multiple sources and multiple people in my life before I decided to agree to take the case but my heart goes out to them.”

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