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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

December 14, 2009 at 9:15 AM

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Monfort pleads not guilty to slaying of SPD officer

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

In a courtroom packed with police, Christopher Monfort pleaded not guilty this morning to killing Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton on Oct. 31.

Among those in the Seattle courtroom was Lisa Brenton, widow of the slain officer, and Officer Britt Sweeney, who was wounded in the Halloween night shooting in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood. Monfort's family, including his mother, sat next to Lisa Brenton and her family.

Monfort is charged with one count of aggravated murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson. The arson charge and one of the counts of attempted murder stem from the Oct. 22 firebombing of four Seattle police vehicles at a city maintenance yard.

He was arrested Nov. 6 after he was shot by Seattle police detectives outside his Tukwila apartment. The shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Monfort, who was in a wheelchair, pleaded not guilty to all five charges this morning. He was ordered held without bail.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Monfort waged a "one-man war" against the Seattle Police Department that began with the Oct. 22 firebombing and ended with the shooting death of Brenton nine days later. Police say a note left behind at the arson railed against police brutality.

Brenton, 39, and officer trainee Sweeney, 33, were seated in their parked patrol car shortly after 10 on Halloween night when police say that Monfort drove up next to them and opened fire. Brenton was killed immediately, and Sweeney suffered minor injuries.

After the arraignment, Lisa Brenton read from a written statement, in which she referred to the slaying of her husband as well as the deaths of four Lakewood police officers on Nov. 29.

"From the family of the one to the family of the four, these deaths are not going to be tolerated," she said. "My husband is not here any more to protect his family, however we, the Brenton family, are here to protect and defend his memory."

To read the full statement, click here.

Monfort's mother, Suzan Monfort offered her condolences to the Brenton family after the hearing.

"We're heartbroken for the families. We're heartbroken for my son," she said. "It's a tragedy for everyone."

Now that the arraignment has taken place, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg has 30 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty, but the decision is likely to be delayed to give defense attorneys more time to prepare.

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