Thompson judge to consider letters from Zehm family before sentencing


by KREM 2 News & Ashley Korslien

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 17 at 6:01 PM

SPOKANE -- Personal letters could help determine the sentence of former Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson.

Thompson was convicted last year of using excessive force against Otto Zehm and then lying about it. Zehm died days later

This week federal prosecutors filed victim impact statements written by Zehm’s family and friends.  A federal judge will likely consider the letters before sentencing Thompson next month.

In one letter, a relative discussed the pain Zehm’s mother Anna continues to experience following her son’s death.

She has said that it is difficult to talk to others in discussing Otto's death. Tears continue to appear in her eyes. Otto's death has created a fear in Anna towards the police department, the letter read.

Anna has said that the most painful part of Otto's death is that his death could have been prevented. Anna has desperately wished that those involved would tell her that they are sorry.

Otto's cousin Dale Zehm wrote the following: I want Karl Thompson to be held accountable for his actions. I never want this to happen to anyone else ever again. It has been almost six years and we need to let our healing begin.

One of Otto's work acquaintances wrote: The Otto I experienced going about his work and greeting others in the hall was serene and always in a good mood.

KREM 2 News attempted to contact Thompson's attorney to see if any letters will be submitted on his behalf, but did not hear back Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors are asking for a sentence of nine to 11 years in prison for Thompson. The defense is asking for two years.

Thompson’s sentencing date is set for November 15th.