SPOKANE, Wash.--An accused killer appeared before a Spokane judge on Tuesday. Donna Perry, born Douglas Perry, underwent a sex change operation 14-years ago. Perry is charged with the murders of three women in the 90s.
Perry refused to appear in court on Monday. KREM 2 News learned that is something the court system sees on a regular basis. It costs the community money because it can tie up staff and add time to cases.
Perry voluntarily appeared in court in Tuesday, but KREM 2 News looked into what the options were if she had refused to come again.
Detectives believe 26-year-old Yolanda Sapp, 34-year-old Nikkie Lowe and 38-year-old Kathlene Brisbois were shot to death by Perry.
“It still brings tears to my eyes and my heart gets heavy when I think about my sister,” said Richard Brisbois, one of the victim’s siblings.
Brisbois said he waited a long time to see his sister’s accused killer. He said he drove over an hour to be at Perry’s first court appearance on Monday afternoon. He said he was blown away when he heard Perry not only refused but that it was even an option to show up. Brisbois said he was worried Tuesday would be a repeat.
“It was quite aggravating. We talked about it on our drive home, we were pretty upset about that. We talked about it on the way in too, wondering ‘are they going to make him come down?’” said Brisbois.
Perry voluntarily agreed to come to court on Tuesday. If Perry had decided not to, officials would have had options.
Prosecutors would not comment specifically on the Perry case on Tuesday but said first appearance refusal is something that occurs frequently.
“The court has a vested authority to compel an individual to appear before the court,” said Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel.
What that means is up to each individual judge.
Perry was not the first accused murderer to refuse to appear. A man named Josh Tillery did it too. In both cases, the suspected killers did eventually come on their own. Had they not come on their own, a judge could have issued a drag order to the jail requiring guards to use force, if necessary, to get them to appear.
The drag order can require extra jail staff but KREM 2 News was told it very rarely comes to that.
“Typically once the drag order is issued the suspects decide to cooperate and are escorted by jail staff,” said Hazel.
Any delay at all costs the community extra money. It is one extra day the whole process must play out.