A man who had pleaded guilty to bludgeoning his 72-year-old aunt to death during a relapse on drugs was sentenced Friday to 27 1/2 years in prison.
The decades Mark Irwin will serve for second-degree murder come despite an appeal from his sister and brother-in-law, who asked King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff for the shortest sentence possible. The couple said they had long known Irwin, 53, to be gentle and loving, even in the grips of his addiction.
Rogoff said the brutal nature of the crime against Barbara Irwin did not allow for a lower sentence.
“Your actions have taken a toll on the community,” Rogoff said.
Mark Irwin had struggled with addiction for decades, but was able to get some clean and sober time under his belt, according to a relative. Barbara Irwin wanted to help him get on his feet and let him live with her on the condition that he stay in a recovery program.
King County prosecutors say Irwin had been living with his aunt for six months when he relapsed, and killed her in a rage, using a claw hammer, after she refused him money. Her home was ransacked, according to police and prosecutors, and Irwin had tried to use her debit card in the hours before she was found dead.
Charging documents say relatives worried about Barbara Irwin after not being able to reach her by phone. They found her body April 13 in her downtown Bellevue residence, at Twelve Central Square Apartments.
The relatives told police that when Mark Irwin answered his aunt’s cellphone, his speech was slurred and he sounded like he was “using drugs again,” court documents say.
He was arrested a short time after his aunt’s body was discovered. Police said they found him sitting in her car, not from from the apartment building, his pants covered in blood. He was with another man, who told police he and Irwin had been smoking crack, prosecutors said.