Yates is charged with killing two women whose deaths were
considered part of the Spokane serial killings case.
Last year, Yates pleaded guilty to 13 murders in Spokane in a
widely criticized deal that allowed him to avoid the death penalty
by agreeing to life in prison without parole. As part of the deal,
he provided information on some unsolved murders.
Pierce County Prosecutor Gerald A. Horne decided he had enough
evidence to pursue capital punishment.
"There is reason to believe that there are not sufficient
mitigating circumstances to merit leniency," Horne wrote in
documents filed in Pierce County Superior Court.
Defense attorneys for Yates filed documents saying why their
client should not face capital punishment, but the contents of
those documents were not immediately available.
Yates has pleaded innocent to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Melinda L. Mercer in 1997 and Connie
Ellis in 1998.
Yates, 48, a married father of five, was sentenced in October to
408 years in prison for his confession to 13 murders and one
attempted murder. The killings go back a quarter-century to 1975,
when he gunned down a young man and young woman as they picnicked
near Walla Walla.
Yates has admitted killing 10 women in Spokane County in
1996-98. He also admitted killing the Walla Walla couple and a
woman whose body was found in 1988 in Western Washington's Skagit
The women slain in Pierce County, like many of Yates' other
victims, had histories of prostitution and drug abuse.
Mercer, 24, was found dead in south Tacoma on Dec. 7, 1997.
Prosecutors allege Yates shot her in the head twice in the previous
24 hours with a .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun and then dumped
her nude body.
Four plastic bags were tied over her head. No purse, wallet or
money were found.
DNA results from Yates' blood reportedly matched semen swabs
taken from Mercer, prosecutors said in court papers. Lab tests
indicate that bullets in Mercer's head were fired from the same
handgun used to shoot four other victims that Yates has admitted
killing, prosecutors said.
Army National Guard records place Yates, a U.S. Army veteran and
former National Guard helicopter pilot, at Fort Lewis in Tacoma
from Dec. 5-7, 1997.
The body of Ellis, 35, was found Oct. 13, 1998, in Parkland,
south of Tacoma. Prosecutors contend Yates shot her once in the
head with a .25-caliber handgun between Sept. 11-19, 1998.
Three plastic bags were tied over her head. No purse, wallet or
money were found.