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Tuesday, July 30, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Man sentenced to life in prison for 1973 murder

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — A man convicted of a murder once attributed to serial killer Ted Bundy was sentenced to life in prison today, after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

A Thurston County Superior Court jury yesterday convicted William Cosden Jr., 55, of first-degree murder in the 1973 killing of a Seattle-area teenager, after deliberating for about a day and a half.

Judge Daniel Berschauer said at the sentencing that Cosden is a danger to society and should never be released.

Cosden has maintained his innocence in the stabbing death of Katherine M. Devine, 14, and will appeal the conviction, defense lawyer John Sinclair said.

Cosden was sent to a mental hospital in Maryland for killing a woman in 1967 and is serving a 48-year term at the McNeil Island Corrections Center near Tacoma for a 1976 rape conviction.

"He is an obvious danger to society," Deputy Prosecutor Philip Harju said.

Relatives of Devine, seated a few feet behind Cosden, sighed as the verdict was announced on yesterday, then sobbed quietly and hugged each other as the jurors were polled.

"For us, it’s been 28 years of thoughts and thoughts and thoughts. It’s finished. There’s a justice system, and it works," said Bill Devine, Katherine’s father.

His daughter was last seen getting into a stranger’s vehicle while hitchhiking to Rockaway Beach, Ore., on Nov. 25, 1973. For many years, Bill Devine said, the family thought she was an early victim of serial killer Ted Bundy.

"I clung to that, because we needed to think it was somebody," he said. "Now I’m convinced it’s the right man. It doesn’t bring Kathy back, but it sure does help."

A caretaker who was picking up trash in the Capitol State Forest near Olympia found Devine’s body in December 1973.

Last year investigators sent evidence from the girl’s body to the Washington State Patrol crime laboratory, which matched DNA to that of Cosden, one of the early subjects of the investigation.

Confronted with the DNA evidence, Cosden told investigators he had sex with Devine but did not kill her.

Thurston County sheriff’s Capt. Mark Curtis photographed marks on Devine’s body in 1973, and worked on the case in the 1980s and 1990s. With a year and a half left until his retirement, he said he’s glad the case is resolved.

"You just can’t get it out of your mind," Curtis said. "That poor little girl."

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