A man accused of fatally stabbing a Walla Walla woman last March and stealing her car pleaded guilty to murder this morning in Walla Walla County Superior Court.
Brandon J. Crispi, 24, who remained in shackles throughout, was ushered into the courtroom and watched closely by a Walla Walla County Jail officer.
His change of plea hearing came after the other jail inmates’ cases were heard, and they were dismissed during the morning’s first appearances.
Crispi’s attorney, Robin Olson, read Crispi’s guilty statement on his behalf, after which Crispi pleaded guilty to first-degree murder — admitting he stabbed Lorelie Carver, 56, on March 1, 2019, in her home at 1250 The Dalles Military Road.
He then drove her car to Oregon, where he surrendered to authorities and was extradited to Walla Walla.
Crispi remained calm and said very little during the change of plea hearing before being ushered out.
His competency had been in question, but he was deemed competent for trial after numerous mental examinations and pleaded not guilty to the murder and vehicle theft charges in January.
However, he made a plea agreement, Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said.
Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 20 years in prison, the low end of the standard sentencing range, and dismiss his vehicle theft charge in exchange for his guilty plea, Nagle said.
The reason was simple, he said.
“One word: Closure,” Nagle said just after the plea.
Police found Carver dead in her home at about 1:50 p.m. on March 1. Her employer had asked police to check on her after she failed to show up for work, according to court records.
Officers found her on a bed in a back room of the house. An autopsy confirmed she had been stabbed multiple times in the head, neck and chest.
Crispi had allegedly been living with Carver after meeting the woman online, as he was recently homeless in San Francisco and she was trying to help him, police and records stated.
He surrendered to Oregon State Police in Ontario around the same time police found Carver’s body.
He was driving Carver’s 2016 Toyota Camry, according to records. He also had a red-handled, serrated knife with him and had cuts on his hands and blood on his pants, records stated.
He told police “God told him to kill (Carver) because she was a Wiccan,” according to court records.
Crispi has been in the Walla Walla County Jail since his extradition March 4 with a $500,000 bond.
Nagle said this morning guilty pleas to murder have happened previously, but the most recent he recalled was one in the 1980s involving a Washington State Penitentiary inmate killing another convict. The suspect in that case faced the death penalty then, he added.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Holce said Crispi’s offender score was zero, but it would have been one with the theft charge, giving him an additional year behind bars. State law gives a standard range for his score as 240-320 months in prison and 36 months of community custody. The maximum is life imprisonment and/or $50,000 fine.
Olson asked Judge Scott Wolfram for about a month before sentencing, as attorneys had to “coordinate a lot of people coming.”
Nagle added a presentence investigation report by the Department of Corrections also had to happen beforehand, as in all “serious” offense cases.