Phillip faces 2012 trial date for Auburn murder of Kent city employee Seth Frankel

Seth Frankel worked as a city of Kent video-program coordinator until he was murdered in May 2010 in Auburn. - CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter file photo
Seth Frankel worked as a city of Kent video-program coordinator until he was murdered in May 2010 in Auburn.
— image credit: CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter file photo

A 30-year-old Oregon man is scheduled to go to trial April 10 in Kent on the charge of first-degree murder for the May 2010 stabbing death of Auburn resident Seth Frankel, a Kent city employee.

William L. Phillip Jr., 30, of Portland, received the trial date at a pretrial hearing Oct. 4 in King County Superior Court at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Phillip remains in custody at the county jail at the Regional Justice Center with bail set at $1 million. He pleaded not guilty March 21 to a first-degree murder charge.

Frankel, a popular city employee, was killed May 21, 2010 in his Auburn home. He was discovered the following day by a neighbor who was checking on his welfare, and who looked through a window, spotting the body.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip is handling the Phillip case. Yip's previous cases include the August 2010 conviction of three men charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death in April 2009 of a man in SeaTac.

Prosecutors allege that Phillip, a former boyfriend of the woman Frankel dated, drove to Auburn to kill Frankel because he was angry that someone else was dating the woman. Detectives connected Phillip to the murder through a blood-stained towel found at Frankel’s house as well as cellphone records that put Phillip near the home the night of Frankel's death.

Frankel's girlfriend tipped off detectives that Phillip could be the one who killed Frankel. She said Phillip wanted a romantic relationship with her and spoke badly about Frankel even though he had never met him, according to charging papers. Phillip had seen a photo of Frankel that the girlfriend had.

Auburn Police – with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service – arrested Phillip Dec. 10 in Portland in connection with Frankel's death.

Phillip did not speak to detectives about the case except for a brief comment with Portland Police. Portland detectives went to Phillip's home to interview him for information about the investigation into Frankel's death. When detectives asked Phillip if he had ever been to Auburn, he told them he wanted to "exercise his right to counsel," according to charging papers.

Phillip was extradited March 10 to Washington from Oregon, where he was held in the Multnomah County Jail since his arrest. Phillip fought extradition, which delayed his return to Washington for three months. Because Phillip fought extradition, the governors from each state had to sign papers to allow the proceeding.

Frankel, 41, was a video-program coordinator for the city of Kent. He joined the city staff in 2007 after 11 years as a director of production at a PBS station in Eureka, Calif. He was the employee behind many of the city meetings and events shown on Kent TV21.

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