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Tuesday, September 12, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teenager, 16, Gets 63 Years In Jail For Suffocations -- Plastic Bags Used To Murder Sister, Friend

AP

WALLA WALLA - A College Place, Walla Walla County, teenager who tied up his younger sister and her best friend and suffocated them with plastic bags has been sentenced to 63 years and four months in prison.

The sentence for Daniel Betournay, 16, was more than 10 years longer than the standard range for two counts of first-degree murder.

A jury convicted him last month in the Dec. 14, 1994, deaths of his sister, April, and Beth Garbe, both 14.

Walla Walla County deputy prosecutor Joe Golden said the sentence issued Friday was less than the 80 years the prosecution requested.

"But it will still achieve what we set out to do, which is punish him and protect the community," Golden said.

Even if Betournay gets a 15 percent reduction in the sentence for good behavior, he will be about 70 years old when released.

Defense attorney William McCool had asked for an exceptionally low sentence because of Betournay's mental illness.

He said he plans to appeal.

"I don't think there's any valid basis for it," McCool said.

Betournay's parents, James and Judith Betournay, declined comment on the sentence.

Beth Garbe's parents, Duane and Carol Garbe, did not attend the sentencing, but sent a letter to Superior Court Judge Yancey Reser pleading that Betournay never be released.

"Danny did not acknowledge Beth's and April's pleas for life as he placed plastic bags over their heads. They were not allowed time off for good behavior or freedom for conforming to his demands.

"We request that Danny never be allowed to return to society, where he has an opportunity to harm others," the letter said.

Reser pointed out that "few people have survived 40 years of incarceration," which was the mandatory minimum sentence for Betournay's crimes.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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