30 years later, Bass sentenced for murder

Timothy Bass awaits trial on May 10 for the 27-year cold case murder and rape of Amanda Stavik. // Photo by Mike Oh

By Ally Burdett

Timothy Bass, 51, of Everson, convicted of the 1989 kidnapping, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Robert Olson to the maximum charge of 320 months — about 27 years — in state prison, in Whatcom County Superior Court on Tuesday, July 2. Bass will be in the custody of the Washington State Department of Corrections. In his final statements, Bass said that he did not receive a fair trial and maintains his innocence.  

On May 24, 2019, a jury found Bass guilty of first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping Stavik. He was also charged with first-degree attempted kidnapping, first-degree attempted rape and first-degree attempted murder.

Bass was taken into custody in 2017 after his co-worker at the Franz Bakery outlet store, Kim Wagner, gave the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office a plastic cup and soft drink can that contained Bass’ DNA.

During the Tuesday sentencing, Olson said he was required to abide by the sentencing statutes in place at the time of the crime. The minimum sentence for first-degree murder at that time was 240 months and the maximum sentence was 320 months, according to court documents. 

During the sentencing proceedings, longtime former Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran, who came out of retirement to try the case, urged Olson to give the maximum sentence.

Whatcom County Public Defenders Starck Follis, Shoshana Paige and Stephen Jackson, argued for the minimum sentence of 240 months. They said Olson should consider Bass’ lack of criminal history and the fact that he was 22 at the time of the crime.

Bridget Whitson, Stavik’s step sister, gave a victim impact statement prior to Olson handing down his sentence. 

“We were step sisters because our parents got married, but we were sisters because we chose to be,” Whitson said. 

Through tears, Whitson recalled time spent with Stavik. She talked about a time when the sisters made up an extreme ice-skating sport on a sledding hill. 

Whitson told the judge Stavik’s murder had a physical and emotional impact on her and her family. 

“This murder has caused generational damage in my family as well,” Whitson said. She added how her daughter was “raised in an atmosphere of heightened anxiety around unknown men” and her daughter has suffered from panic attacks. 

She asked the judge to consider the years of pain Bass’ actions created for her and her family.  

Stavik’s former boyfriend, Rick Zender, went before the judge and said his life was changed forever when he heard Stavik’s body was found in the river.

“The nightmares came immediately…the worst part isn’t dreaming that she’s alive, but dreaming she’s dead because for those few moments in transition, when I open my eyes, there’s hope her death was just a nightmare,” Zender said. 

Sandra Bass, Tim Bass’ mother, also addressed the court. She questioned why an investigator and police officer who knew Stavik beforehand were on the case. She also asked why the case wasn’t solved 30 years ago. 

“I do know that my son is not guilty of this crime. I know where he was at the time Mandy went missing and so did his ex,” Sandra Bass said. 

Timothy Bass told the judge he had about 10 pages of notes he wanted to bring, but decided one was enough. 

“I am 100 % innocent of this crime. Furthermore, I don’t believe I received a fair trial,” Bass said. Bass has maintained that the DNA evidence taken from Stavik’s body and matched to him was the result of consensual sex, according to court documents.  

“I wish no ill will toward anyone here, not even today, and I am having a hard time with this,” Bass said in his final statement. 

Before imposing the maximum sentence of 320 months, Olson said he considered the circumstances of Stavik’s death, the loss Stavik’s family and friends suffered, and the lack of remorse shown by Bass and felt confident in the strong evidence presented in the case.

To given the circumstances of her death, the loss her family suffered and lack of remorse by Bass 

“While science may have caught you, it was your inability to construct a consistent narrative about your crime that I think is a primary reason why the jury can convict you,” Olson said. “Certainly the actual truth wouldn’t have served as a good narrative for you.”

Bass will first go to the community corrections office in Bellingham to complete a year of community custody before serving the rest of his sentence in state prison.

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