Violent Offenses

Charges involving allegations of violence are some of the most aggressively pursued cases by law enforcement and prosecutors alike. The strength of the evidence of such charges can vary from being based solely on one person’s word to the use of very sophisticated forensic evidence and expert witnesses. Consequently, if you have been charged with a violent crime you need representation that has experience dealing with the factual and legal issues presented in cases involving allegations of violence. As a prosecutor I tried and handled hundreds of violent offenses including Assault, Robbery, Rape, and Murder and worked with almost every type of expert and forensic evidence. Consequently, I have the experience necessary to understand and successfully challenge the types of evidence which will be relied upon by the prosecutor in support of its charge.

Over the last 10-15 years the Washington Legislature has passed very stringent new sentencing laws on violent crimes, especially those that are committed with a weapon. These statutes turn almost any device used in the commission of a crime into a "deadly weapon" and add years to any conviction. What's more, the sentences are even longer if the State proves an offender had access to a firearm during the commission of the crime even if that firearm was not actually used in the crime and even when it was not recovered by the police. In addition, our state's persistent offender (i.e. three strikes) statutes are some of the most stringent and aggressively enforced in the nation.

My Experience

My twelve years as a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in King County gave me the opportunity to try dozens of cases involving violent charges and work on many more. I have tried countless felony assault and robbery cases as well as Aggravated Murder, Premeditated Murder, and Felony Murder cases. More importantly, the cases I took to trial involved all types of forensic evidence and expert testimony including DNA, ballistics and tool marks, arson and fire investigation, video and computer analysis, fingerprints, dog tracking, controlled substance analysis, gunshot residue and bullet projection, blood spatter, tire track comparison, and expert medical testimony regarding blunt force trauma, sexually transmitted diseases, gunshot wounds, sexual assaults, strangulation, and cause of death. Consequently, I understand much of the science behind these areas of expertise and know the strengths and weaknesses of each type of forensic evidence.

In addition to my experience handling violent offenses, I spent years in a federal grant position in which I was assigned to handle and oversee the prosecution of all firearm crimes charged in South King County. In this position I tried dozens of violent offenses involving firearms and other deadly weapons and worked with the United States Attorney’s Office to help determine which firearm cases should be tried locally and which ones would have better results in federal court. Thus, I have a great understanding of how firearm cases are charged and proven and what factual and legal issues can be raised in order to defend against them.

Notable Cases

State v. Earnest Collins: In the early morning hours of July 10, 2008, taxi driver Jagjit Singh was killed by Mr. Collins after responding to his call for a cab. Almost immediately after Mr. Singh arrived, Mr. Collins climbed into the back of his cab, shot Mr. Singh twice in the head, and then set Mr. Singh on fire after taking whatever money he could find.

Along with another prosecutor and some very dedicated King County Sheriff’s Office detectives, I prosecuted Mr. Collins for the aggravated first degree murder of Mr. Singh. The case was pieced together using every type of forensic expert imaginable including fire investigators, medical examiners, DNA experts, and forensic computer/video experts from the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, VA. Mr. Collins was ultimately found guilty of Aggravated First Degree Murder and sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in prison.

Read the Seattle PI Story About the Case

Read and Watch the KOMO 4 News Story About the Case


State v. Tinh Lam: In October 2005 an elderly Vietnamese woman was found dead in her apartment after having been strangled and bludgeoned to death with a hammer. With little to go on I worked alongside detectives from the Seattle Police Department, forensic scientists with the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, and medical examiners from King County to narrow the focus to the victim’s boyfriend, Mr. Lam. After a lengthy trial Mr.Lam was convicted of premeditated first degree murder based almost entirely on forensic evidence that included forensic video analysis, fingerprint, blood spatter, and DNA evidence.

Read the Seattle Times Article About the Case


State v. David Davidson: In 2003 Mr. Davidson, angry over an unpaid drug debt, abducted the victim and shot him through the knee caps in a secluded area of South King County. Although he survived, the victim was reluctant to identify the shooter due to fear of retaliation. Despite these obstacles I successfully prosecuted Mr. Davidson for Assault in the First Degree, his third strike, through the use of ballistics, DNA, and tire print evidence. Mr. Davidson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.


About Wagnild Law

Zach Wagnild, Attorney

After spending the first 12 years of my legal career as a prosecutor, I opened my own practice in order to provide outstanding support and legal advocacy to those who are facing criminal charges. I purposefully keep a low caseload so that I can give each case my personal attention and so I have sufficient time to meet with my clients, discuss their options, and approach their case in the manner that is the most beneficial to them and their needs.

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