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Thursday, November 28, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Conviction In Brutal Murder Of Woman -- Death Penalty Out; 2Nd Man Faces Trial

AP

MONTESANO, Grays Harbor County - A drug-crazed man who gouged a woman's eyes with a screwdriver, stabbed her then drank her blood was convicted of first-degree murder.

A Grays Harbor Superior Court jury deliberated for seven hours before finding Raymond Lee Baca guilty in the Aug. 26 killing of Virginia Barsic, 50. The jury reached the verdict Monday.

Baca, 18, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 6 but will not face the death penalty, which can be sought only after convictions of aggravated first-degree murder.

County Prosecutor Steward Menefee said he had considered filing an aggravated first-degree murder charge against Baca but could not find evidence to support it.

Menefee said Tuesday he would either ask for a sentence at the high end of the standard range or seek an exceptional sentence.

The standard sentencing range for first offenders convicted of first-degree murder is 20 years to 26 years and eight months in prison. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

Jim Heard, the court-appointed attorney for Baca, asked jurors to convict Baca of second-degree murder. Heard argued that Baca was not entirely responsible for his actions because he had "just flipped" into a near psychotic state.

Baca admitted killing Barsic but said he was tripping on LSD and "just snapped."

Baca and five other young people had partied at her home near Ocean Shores over the weekend of the killing.

Another young man, Derek Erben, 18, of Quinault, goes on trial for first-degree murder Jan. 7. He's accused of helping Baca, including holding Barsic down and taking his turn at stabbing her.

In all, Barsic was stabbed about 30 times.

Deputy Prosecutor Jerry Fuller said Baca planned the murder for the thrill of it.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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