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Convicted killer Issac Zamora

On Sept. 2, 2008, Issac Zamora went on a shooting spree, killing six people, including several neighbors, a Skagit County Sheriff’s deputy and a driver on I-5. He pleaded guilty to four murders and not guilty by reason of insanity to two others.

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MONROE — It’s been five and a half years since Fred Binschus’ wife, Julie, was killed at his Sedro-Woolley home by Isaac Zamora.

“She was one of a kind.  There’s not a day or hour that goes by I don’t think of her,” Binschus said Thursday.


Isaac Zamora enters a courtroom for one of his hearings. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

Isaac Zamora went on a shooting rampage that day, also firing at Fred, hitting him in the hip and back.  Zamora killed six people and pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, but also pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts.

That got him time at Western State Hospital, but in June 2013 a judge approved a transfer to the prison in Monroe because Zamora was a threat to hospital staff and considered an escape risk. But he is technically considered a psychiatric patient.

“My worst fear with this situation is that because he is considered a patient or boarder, not an offender, is that there will be preferential or different treatment,” said Michelle Woodrow with Teamsters Local 117, the union that represents prison staff in June 2013 when commenting about Zamora’s initial transfer.

Documents obtained by Q13 FOX News show that is exactly the case — that Zamora is being paid minimum wage to work as a part-time janitor or porter in prison.

Most inmates make only 55 cents an hour and can work their way up to $2.60, but aren’t allowed to make more than $55 a month.  A time sheet from the state Department of Corrections shows the hours Zamora logged between Dec. 21 and Feb. 6.  So far, he’s only been paid about $95 in his part-time position, but victims feel it’s setting a concerning precedent.

“It’s really wrong for him to have any rights.  A prison is for punishment, not to reward you for a heinous crime like he did,” said Binschus.

Emails between the Department of Corrections and Western State officials show it is the state Department of Social and Health Services, the agency that manages the hospital, which is paying Zamora this money.

An email from Jan. 28, 2014, reads “Mr. Z now has a part time porter job. We need to find out how to get the money for his pay from Western State Hospital into Mr. Z’s account. He will be paid about $9 an hour”.  The emails then show confusion whether to pay Zamora with a check or money order.

“That is wrong, to give someone like that a job.  He should be locked up and have bread and water, is what I think,” said Binschus.

Last week, there was a hearing to determine if Zamora will become a permanent offender in prison and fall under DOC custody, or remain a DSHS “boarder,” as he is now.  Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert ruled to keep the situation as it stands and revisit the case in June.  That means for now, DSHS will continue to pay Zamora minimum wage to work there.

“It gets my blood pressure up because I didn’t get any closure over this.  Everything was about him.  He’s just got way too many rights,” said Binschus.

Q13 FOX News asked DSHS to answer the following questions about this story:

  1. How much has DSHS/Western State Hospital paid Mr. Zamora since he started his part time porter job in December?
  2. Is there any provision in place that sets a maximum number of hours or money per month he is allowed to make?
  3. Did he have a job at Western State Hospital? If so, what was it and what was he paid?
  4. Is Zamora the first DSHS/Western State Hospital patient transferred to a state prison that has been paid minimum wage in this type of situation?
  5. Are other patients at Western State Hospital paid minimum wage in jobs at the hospital?
  6. Are there any state laws that explain how/why a patient who is a boarder at a state prison is allowed to make minimum wage when offenders are paid at a much lower rate?

Here is the response received from Kathy Spears, DSHS spokeswoman:

“Under state and federal laws and with a threat of damages (fines) for violating those laws, we cannot even say if someone was or is a patient at one our state psychiatric hospitals.”

Spears later sent more information:

“Prior to 2010, we did not have the legal authority to transfer patients from a state hospital to DOC.  We gained legislative authority to transfer a patient committed as not guilty by reason of insanity to DOC, if they present an unreasonable safety risk which, based on behavior, clinical history, and facility security is not manageable in a state hospital setting. There has been one transfer.

“Eastern and Western State Hospitals provide a range of vocational opportunities to patients at minimum wage. The work tasks assigned to patients represent  work that would have to be performed to support the hospital whether it be a patient or employee. Some of those tasks include Janitorial, laundry, and coffee shop.”

Q13 FOX News has filed a public disclosure request to try to gain more information about this story and will update you as soon as we can.

Read documents obtained by Q13 FOX News here.

zamoraMONROE, Wash. — Convicted killer Issac Zamora was moved from a state hospital to a Department of Corrections facility because he posed an “unreasonable safety risk” to hospital staff, the Department of Social and Heath Services announced Wednesday.

Zamora will remain in the legal custody of DSHS while in the special offender unit at Monroe Correctional Complex, authorities said.

On Sept. 2, 2008, Zamora went on a shooting spree, killing six people, including several neighbors, a Skagit County Sheriff’s deputy and a driver on I-5. He pleaded guilty to four murders and not guilty by reason of insanity to two others.

Staff members at Zamora’s hospital previously testified that Zamora posed a safety risk, and they wanted him transferred to a prison for a number of reasons.

“There is no dispute that Mr. Zamora is dangerous. Secondly, Mr. Zamora’s psychotic disorder is in remission. Third, Mr. Zamora will never be released to the outside world,” said Sarah Coats, chief counsel for the state Attorney General’s Office in July.

Zamora’s psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Bingcang, spoke on the stand about Zamora’s mental diagnosis, saying he has reported psychotic episodes.

“He usually self-reports that he’s hearing voices. He tells me he sees a man behind a door or faces on the wall. When I ask him to discuss further, he is hesitant and has me ask him another question,” Bingcang said.

Bingcang said he believes Zamora is not currently suffering from a mental illness, but major depression and anti-social personality disorder.  The psychiatrist said Zamora has personally threatened him and other staff, and has reportedly devised an escape plan from the hospital.

Because of his threatening behavior, two DOC officers monitored Zamora around the clock at Western State Hospital, costing taxpayers $1.2 million a year. It will reportedly cost around $70,000 if he was housed in a mental health unit in the prison system.

Opponents of the transfer said it favors incarceration over treatment. Zamora’s mother said she believes her son is mentally ill and needs the specialized services provided at Western State Hospital.

Zamora raised further controversy in August when signed hand tracings of his have turned up for sale on mass-murder memorabilia websites.

Fred Binschus, a survivor of Zamora’s rampage, said in an interview that the sale of her killer’s belongings only worsens the suffering he’s had to endure by losing his wife of 25 years and the mother of their two daughters.

“She was something special,” Binschus said. “Once you have the best, it’s hard to move on really.”