MOUNT VERNON — After about a day and a half of testimony, the case of a Mount Vernon woman accused of asking her 10-year-old son to kill his father has gone to a jury.
Vanessa Valdiglesias-Lavalle, 37, is charged in Skagit County Superior Court with solicitation to commit murder and solicitation to commit first-degree assault with a noxious substance after she allegedly tried to convince her 10-year-old son to kill his father by tainting his food and drink with rat poison.
During the trial, the boy, his younger brother and the father testified, as did the boy’s best friend and the best friend’s mother — who was the one to alert authorities after her son played for her the recording that had been shared with him.
In his closing argument, Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich said Valdiglesias-Lavalle’s jealousy and anger over being able to see her children only four hours a week and having to pay her ex-husband child support led her to want to find a way to get her ex-husband out of her life and the lives of her children.
“The evidence shows that (Valdiglesias-Lavalle) believed (her ex-husband) needed to die,” Weyrich said.
In his closing argument, Valdiglesias-Lavalle’s lawyer, public defender Adam Yanasak, said the case should be an easy one for jurors to decide. He said in order for Valdiglesias-Lavalle to be convicted of any charge related to solicitation there had to be an offer of money or something else of value.
In this case, he said, there was no such offer.
“This is really not a very hard case,” Yanasak said. “There’s certainly a lot of complex things that could be unpacked, a lot of family dynamics, but that’s not our job.”
While no money was promised to the boy by his mother, Weyrich asserted that the “thing of value” was Valdiglesias-Lavalle promising that with her ex-husband out of the picture she and her sons could live together forever.
“What could be more valuable than having your loved ones around you? That was the value to her,” Weyrich said. “She is soliciting her son — her own son — to kill another human that she hates.”
Yanasak, who called no witnesses during the trial, repeated the claim he made in his opening statement that the recorded conversation between mother and son was “inappropriate” and “shocking,” but was not illegal. Instead, he said it was a trap set up by her son that she walked into.
Valdiglesias-Lavalle had moved from Peru to marry her now ex-husband, Yanasak said. Being thousands of miles from her own family and losing custody of her children while in a country she barely knows put a strain on her, he said.
“(This is) a woman who is just having a tough time, sharing too much with her children. … This is loose lips,” Yanasak said. “These are not ideations of a crazy, murderous, would-be killer. These are just emotions of a humble, hardworking mother who’s struggling.”
Even if the boy had carried out the supposed plan to try to kill his father, Yanasak said there is no proof that the rat poison — in whatever unspecified amount the boy would have used — would have been enough to kill his father or even cause him serious injury.
That lack of specifics to the alleged plan is proof Valdiglesias-Lavalle had no intent to actually have her ex-husband killed, Yanasak said.
Weyrich disagreed, saying that even though the boy was not told how much rat poison it would take to kill his father, the fact remained Valdiglesias-Lavalle had a plan she hoped would result in his death.
“It may be a misguided plan, but it was a plan,” he said.
Jurors were given the case Thursday afternoon, but did not return a verdict by 4:30 p.m. They will resume deliberations Friday.