Brian Bassett could see release in the near future, based on resentencing in Grays Harbor Superior Court.
More than 25 years have passed since August 11, 1995 when Bassett and then boyfriend Nicholaus McDonald committed the murders of his parents Michael and Wendy Bassett and his 5-year-old brother Austin.
Thurston County Judge Sharonda Amamilo issued her sentence to Bassett on Thursday, as required based on the so-called “Miller Fix” following the Miller v. Alabama case.
That Miller case mandated a change within state law that in setting a minimum term, the court must take into account mitigating factors that account for the diminished culpability of youth.
This includes, but is not limited to, the age of the individual, the youth’s childhood and life experience, the degree of responsibility the youth was capable of exercising, and the youth’s chances of becoming rehabilitated.
Basset was originally sentenced in April 1996 to three life prison terms without parole.
Judge Amamilo stated that any resentencing decision made must be “forward looking” and allow for rehabilitation.
The Judge noted that based on testimony and Department of Corrections documentation, Bassett has since recognized his actions and expressed regret in the 25-plus years since the crime was committed.
In resentencing discussions for Bassett, the state had asked 38 years for Counts 1 and 2 in the murder of his parents, and 40 years for Count 3 related to the murder of Austin, all to run concurrently.
The defense had asked for three concurrent 25 year sentences.
Judge Amamilo stated that the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board had noted that Bassett had shown he could be eligible for release on the counts of murder in relation to his parents, and stated that it was conceivable that if Bassett were to continue on his current path of growth, it would be expected that the board would again find that he should be released.
Judge Amamilo said in her judgment that the crime was “unimaginable” and that she understood the struggles of the prior court when imposing sentencing and resentencing, as she too struggled with her decision based on the crime.
Judge Amamilo spoke about the maturity and growth of Bassett through his decades in prison, saying that he has shown efforts to improve himself while in custody. This includes further education and “going above and beyond” in his actions to improve himself.
On Thursday, Judge Amamilo resentenced Bassett to 25 years on counts 1 & 2, to run concurrently with 28 years for count 3.
Given Bassett has already served 26 years for the crimes, this opens the door to possible release within the coming years.
Judge Amamilo said that this sentence allows Bassett the opportunity to continue his rehabilitation and prepare for transition back into the community where he could gain employment, which would allow him to contribute to the tax base that provided him the opportunity to emerge from prison “with an understanding of the pain he caused, the lives he took, and the scars he left”
Judge Amamilo shared that it was her opinion that “The Bassett Family, McCleary, and the Grays Harbor County community at large need to know that Mr. Bassett is not likely to be a threat to anyone when released.”
If and when he gains release, Bassett would have a mandated anti-harassment and lifetime no-contact order against his sister.