A Snohomish County jury convicted Erick Walker of manslaughter and 9 other charges on March 30 for going on a random shooting spree in June 2013 during which he shot and killed 15-year-old Molly Conley while she was walking along a road in Lake Stevens with 5 friends. Yesterday he was sentenced to 91 years in prison.
Lucy is a three-year old Golden Retriever/Lab mix whose official title is Court and Facility Dog for the Snohomish County’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. She started work there in 2014.
Snohomish County began using dogs like Lucy due to the work of Courthouse Dog Foundation founder Ellen O’Neill-Stevens who used to work in the King County Prosecutor’s Office. The group’s mission is “promoting justice through the use of professionally-trained dogs to provide emotional support for everyone in our criminal justice system.”
After convincing former King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng to allow courthouse dogs to help crime and abuse victims in 2003, O’Neill Stevens brought in a lab mix named Ellie, making her the first assistance dog in the country to work full time in a prosecutor’s office. She convinced the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s office to start using courthouse dogs in 2006.
Lucy and many other courthouse dogs were trained by Canine Companions for Independence.
Regarding the trial for Molly’s killer, the Courthouse Dog Foundation wrote on its Facebook page that Lucy “was present for this entire tragic homicide trial, providing emotional support for the victim’s family.”
And Lucy’s handler wrote that Molly Conley’s grandfather “was thrilled to have Lucy with him in the front row. After the ruling he put a flag on her vest to remember Molly by. She will wear it with honor for years to come. RIP.”
I can’t think of a more fitting way to exemplify the tremendous amount of comfort and support that courthouse dogs provide to victims and their families.
While I can’t begin to understand the staggering amount of pain and grief Molly’s family suffered during the trial of Molly’s killer, I’m glad Lucy was there to help them endure it.