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February 2, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 05
 
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Shaw murderer sentenced to nearly 48 years in prison
Shaw murderer sentenced to nearly 48 years in prison
Friends, family express their loss at sentencing

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Michael Saga Maiava was sentenced to nearly 48 years on Monday for the October 2004 death of Kevin Patrick Shaw, a 44-year-old Gay Seattle businessman. Last month, a jury found Maiava guilty of first-degree murder and the use a deadly weapon while carrying out his crime.

On the morning of on October 21, 2004, Shaw's naked and battered body was found slumped over the front passenger seat inside his parked red Porsche Boxster. He had been wrapped inside two bed sheets and a garbage bag. A fire had also been started within the vehicle in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.

The pair is believed to have met each other through a Gay chat-line. Phone records, DNA evidence, and items recovered from Maiava's residence had linked the defendant to the crime. Witnesses also reported seeing a red Porsche Boxster parked near the suspect's home around the time of the murder.

Judge Theresa Doyle heard moving and -- at times -- emotional statements from Ed Shaw, the victim's father, and Larry Woodin, a close friend and family spokesperson. Kevin's brother, Tom Shaw, joined friends of the victim who were seated in the courtroom.

"We lost our Kevin three years ago. No one could ask for a better son," said Ed Shaw. "His death was senseless and tragic. I just can't believe it happened.

"We will never know why this happened to Kevin, but his death leaves an empty place in our hearts that will always be with us."

Shaw, a Montana native, moved to the Seattle area in the early 1980s after graduating from Gonzaga University in Spokane. He owned an executive-recruiting business and lived in a penthouse condominium on First Hill. Shaw once worked as the chief financial officer for the Spot Bagel Bakery in Seattle.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Baird, who had worked on the case since the day Shaw's body was discovered, asked for "a sentence at the high end of the range" under state guidelines.

"The state's recommendation is based on the standard range for what is - in my estimation -- a crime that was not only senseless, but calculated. It was not only callus, but deliberately cruel," Baird told the judge.

Doyle agreed, giving the defendant the maximum sentence allowable. "What concerns me is public safety. It is my job here to ensure that this doesn't happen to anybody else," she said. "For those reasons, I think the longest sentence possible, within the standard range, is appropriate - to protect society from future violence."

According to the King County Medical Examiner's Office, Shaw's death was caused by a penetrating wound to his head. However, before he died, he was stabbed with an ice pick or similar tool, was strangled, had his back broken and suffered blunt force trauma and lacerations to his body.

"On October 18, 2004, Michael Maiava had the opportunity of a lifetime. He met a man who was one of the finest people he could ever hope to encounter. And, at that moment, he had a choice," said Woodin. "He could have looked for a way to get to know the light and the love that Kevin was and is. Instead, he decided that he was not worthy to experience that brilliant light and chose murder as his means to extinguish that life."

Woodin said he would forgive Maiava for his crime and would be available to him if the day comes when he "truly want[s] to atone for [his] actions or find forgiveness." Otherwise, Woodin said, he would not give the defendant another thought.

"I forgive you," he said. "I hope you will seek ways to resolve the issues that torment you. I will say an occasional prayer that you might discover the desire to find redemption and to experience...some profound quality in life that you abused."

Julie Lawry, Maiava's public defender from the Associated Council for the Accused, had asked for 23-year prison, in part, because her client suffered childhood abuse and the loss of a parent. She also questioned whether some of his juvenile offences should have been included in the sentencing determination.

Woodin urged the judge not to give weight to her claims. "I know that there will be those making excuses for the offender, saying that he had a terrible childhood, etc. But I'm sorry. I have personally known too many people that have had terribly difficult childhoods but made a choice and stepped up in life, despite those influences," said Woodin. "They sought role models to show them a better way. ... They lead good solid productive lives and I am proud and humbled to include several of these people as my close friends."

The defense offered the jury two arguments at trial. The first was that Maiava did not commit the crime. However - if he did - he didn't have the mental state of pre-mediation. However, the prosecution pointed out that the defendant was much heavier than Shaw, who struggled with the affects of AIDS.

According to charging papers, Maiava had made admissions to friends and relatives about the crime and, later, admitted to playing a role in Shaw's death during police questioning. Lawry told the SGN Monday that her client said he acted in self-defense after he was attacked by Shaw over a dispute about marijuana.

Not the judge, nor jury, agreed with the defense. "I don't believe you acted in self-defense," said Doyle. "By all accounts, Mr. Shaw was a non-violent person. I can't imagine that he would have brought the murder weapon to your encounter with him and I also can't believe that he would have been the first to strike out."

"The crime here was an unprovoked, cruel and -- in this court's opinion -- senseless murder of a man who, by all accounts, was really a lovely person."

Woodin said he fears what may happen if Maiava fails to receive rehabilitation in prison before being released into society. "I would hope that a murderer would be forced into a situation where he would have some kind of counseling that would crack the ridiculous veneer that masks the pain ... that torments his soul," he said. "If the system is not going to jump start that process, than we can look forward to some future time when the moment will come that he realizes what he has done and asks for help and forgiveness. Otherwise he will serve his time and - presuming he survives the system - society will find him back on the street with future accumulation of the self-hatred that brought him and us to this moment. I shudder to think he might leave the system an even greater diseased and hate-filled person we have come to know through this brutal crime and see in this court."

Miava had a long criminal history, which began at the age of 11. He has more than a dozen felony convictions that include burglary, robbery and car theft.

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