by: Kevin McCarty Updated:
TACOMA, Wash. - In order to avoid a conviction for aggravated first-degree murder and the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars, Tyler Savage has to convince a jury the death of a 16-year-old developmentally disabled girl three years ago was nothing more than a tragic accident.
After a trial plagued with delays, the fate of Savage, 21, was handed to jurors Monday following a day of closing arguments by a Pierce County prosecution team and Savage's defense attorney.
Savage was arrested and charged with strangling Kimberly Daily in South Hill on Aug. 17, 2010. Initially, Savage told Pierce County sheriff's detectives he murdered the girl after the two arranged a meeting on Facebook. In a taped confession, Savage told detectives he choked Daily then tied a bra and T-shirt around her neck because she wanted to leave while the two were talking and he thought that was "lame."
But in trial, Savage and his attorney told a very different story. Attorney Leslie Tolzin said Daily, who had the mental and emotional capacity of a fourth or fifth-grader, asked Savage, then a long-haired bearded 18-year-old, to choke her in a sex game. Tolzin told jurors Daily had a secret life she hid from her father and was boy crazy. "They want you to have an image of Kim that is outdated, an image of Kim that is inaccurate," Tolzin said of prosecutors.
But the prosecution used Savage's own words against him, playing clips of his taped confession. In it, Savage broke down as he admitted strangling Daily, stripping her and dumping her naked body in blackberry bushes a few block from her home.
"He took her shirt and her bra and wrapped it around her neck and he tied it," Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Phil Sorenson told the jury. "He murdered her and then he threw her away."
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Tuesday morning.