Defendant Zachary Craven was arraigned Thursday morning, July 23, on charges of two counts of murder in the first degree of Western Washington University student Meagan Elizabeth Smith and Craven’s grandmother Angelika Hayden. The arraignment was held downtown Seattle at King County Superior Court. Craven entered a not-guilty plea to all the charges, Dan Donohoe, media relations manager of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, said in an email. The next course of action for the case will be a setting hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Craven is also facing a charge of assault in the second degree, and his bail is set at $5 million. Smith was found dead in a house in Renton on the night of Tuesday, July 7. She was housesitting for her friend Theresa Cunningham, who had been dating Craven periodically since 2012, according to Craven’s court case document. According to a statement from Cunningham retrieved from a court document, Cunningham relayed numerous accounts of assault and threats she received from Craven. Court documents also stated that Craven had a history of abuse toward Cunningham. Earlier this year on Friday, June 26, Craven was convicted of a domestic violence charge against Hayden. In 2013, Craven was convicted of domestic violence and DUI charges for threatening and assaulting Hayden. After sentencing for this case, he was required to seek out treatment but failed to follow court orders. Craven was previously convicted of an animal cruelty in the second degree for stabbing Hayden’s cat to death the same year.
Following the presidential proclamation to honor the victims of the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered Washington state and United States flags at all agency facilities to be lowered to half-staff. In response to the governor’s order and presidential proclamation, Western Washington University lowered its flags to half-staff. The Chattanooga shooting occurred on Thursday, July 16, when a gunman allegedly entered two military facilities and open-fired. The fatalities include four Marines and one Navy sailor, with two more wounded. Among Western’s student population is a small veteran community, composed of about 350 veterans and dependents of veterans. Alex Miller, a sophomore and business administration major at Western, was in the army for five years and was stationed in Fort Campbell, Tennessee. Miller said he noticed that the government did not immediately direct flags across the country to be lowered. “I think it’s about time,” Miller said. “Especially since, usually when celebrities or anyone else, doesn’t even have to be someone famous, dies, usually it happens immediately after and the president took about a week to do it this time. It was four marines and a sailor this time, and on American soil.” President Obama ordered the flags to be at half-staff on Tuesday, July 21, five days after the shooting. The flags are ordered to be kept at half-staff from Tuesday, July 21, until close of business or sunset on Saturday, July 25, or first thing Monday morning, July 27.
Changes to student tuition costs are coming next year, due to a new university budget and state-mandated tuition reductions. The Board of Trustees voted Monday, July 20, to approve a five percent reduction for the 2015-2016 school year for resident undergrads. For out-of-state and MBA students, the newly approved budget raises their annual tuition costs by 2.9 percent. At the meeting, the board also took time to discuss the timeline and funding for Sam Carver Gymnasium with M.A. Mortenson Co. as the project’s general contractor/construction manager. In addition to discussing the budget, the board also talked about the process to search for a new president after President Bruce Shepard retires at the end of the next academic year. The board appointed Vice Chair Susan Sharpe as the head of the presidential search advisory committee. Board of Trustees Chair Karen Lee read a paragraph which she said she has referred to for the past two months for inspiration when considering the responsibility of the search committee in choosing a new president. “The president must provide leadership in maintaining academic integrity and its reputation,” Lee said. “A good choice can benefit a college or university far into the future. The process of presidential search and selection bears both enormous opportunity and considerable risk. It is crucial to get it right.” Vice chair Susan Sharpe was appointed by the trustees to put together a committee to choose and search for a new president. The Western Front will follow the progression of the search when more information is released.
Western Washington University student Meagan Elizabeth Smith, a senior, was found dead in a Renton home on the night of Tuesday, July 7. Police said Smith, 21, was a victim of homicide while she was house-sitting at the home. Smith was a current Western student but was not enrolled in classes during summer quarter, said Paul Cocke, university communications director at Western. The university is offering counseling support for friends of Smith. “Our campus community offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Western student Meagan Smith,” said Eileen Coughlin, senior vice president and vice president for Enrollment and Student Services at Western, in a statement. “We encourage students who knew Meagan and may be in need of support to please contact our counseling center.” Western’s counseling center can be reached at 360-650-3164. The Western Front will update this story as more information becomes available.