William Earl Talbott II (left), with defense attorney Rachel Forde (right), enters a courtroom for his arraignment June 19 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

William Earl Talbott II (left), with defense attorney Rachel Forde (right), enters a courtroom for his arraignment June 19 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Death-penalty decision delayed for alleged cold-case killer

William Talbott is charged here in the 1987 slaying of a young Victoria-area couple

By Rikki King at Herald Net, reporting from Everett, WA.

Snohomish County prosecutors now have until Nov. 30 to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the 1987 killings of a young Victoria-area couple.

Superior Court Judge Linda Krese approved the extension Thursday at the request of prosecutors and the defense. A new trial date was set for March.

William Talbott II is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder. Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and Jay Cook, 20, of Saanich, B.C., disappeared in November 1987 while on a road trip that took them to Seattle.

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A week later, Van Cuylenborg’s body was found in the woods off a rural road in Skagit County. She’d been raped and shot in the head. Cook’s body later was found near Monroe. He’d been beaten and strangled.

Prosecutors say they were led to Talbott, three decades later, due to advances in genetic profiling.

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At 55, he was living in SeaTac and working as a trucker. In 1987, his home was off Woodinville-Duvall Road.

He appeared in custody Thursday. His attorneys told the court that he maintains his innocence.

If Talbott is convicted as charged, the death penalty and life without parole are the only sentences available under state law. The trial could take as long as seven weeks, Krese said.

Talbott is being held without bail at the Snohomish County Jail in Everett. On Thursday, the judge denied a motion from the defense to reconsider bail or house arrest pending trial, which previously had been scheduled for August.