Man gets 32 years in prison in Washington throat-slashing

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A man who pleaded guilty in the throat-slashing death of a Maltby, Washington woman has been sentenced to 32½ years in prison.

The Daily Herald in Everett reports John Kuljis Jr., 32, was sentenced by Snohomish County Judge Michael Downes on Friday.

Prosecutors said Kuljis was in 78-year-old Barbara Decker’s home when he fatally slashed her throat and tried to do the same to her daughter, 62-year-old Janine Shaffer. Shaffer tried to fight him off and then played dead during the February 2017 attack. She survived but sustained serious throat and hand injuries. Kuljis’ uncle had been hired to do work on the home.

Kuljis’ attorney, Fred Moll, said his client had mental health problems and had been using heroin and methamphetamine at the time. Kuljis told the judge that he wasn’t himself at the time of the murder because of what he said were “extremely unfortunate circumstances.”

But the judge said Kuljis’ drug use was voluntary and not society’s fault. He imposed the higher-range sentence sought by prosecutors.