34 Years Later, Suspect Pleads Guilty To Murder Of Everett Firefighter Gary Parks

In an unusual court proceeding today 47-year-old Elmer Nash Junior walked into a Snohomish County Superior Courtroom and was charged with first degree murder for a fire he admitted setting when he was 12 years old. He then immediately entered a guilty plea and walked back out. The fire was at Everett Community College on February 16th, 1987 and Everett Firefighter Gary Parks died in that blaze. Here is a brief of what happened in court today.

Elmer Nash, Jr. enters a guilty plea in Snohomish County Superior Court.


Judge David Kurtz spent a significant amount of time making sure Nash and his defense attorney understood everything involved with entering a guilty plea at arraignment.

Prosecutors Robert Grant and Tyler Scott, Judge David Kurtz and Defense attorney Philip Sayles go over potential dates for sentencing.

Family members and investigators watched the hearing via Zoom.

In a quiet voice Elmer Nash Junior repeatedly said, “yes sir” as Judge David Kurtz asked him if he understood the various rights he was giving up by entering a guilty plea to first degree murder.

Kurtz pressed Nash on his understanding of the Felony Murder Charge and Felony Crime of 1st Degree Arson. That he knowingly and maliciously acted. Kurtz even read a handwritten statement where Nash acknowledged, “I along with other participants did cause the death of Gary Parks.”

Kurtz formally asked Nash for his plea to the charge of 1st degree murder, “Guilty your honor,” Nash said quietly.

Kurtz earlier asked Philip Sayles, Nash’s attorney if he had spent enough time going over the case, reviewing and preparing his client. The attorney advised that he has spent nearly every day over the last month negotiating with the State and reporting back to Nash.

Kurtz also make sure Nash understood that the maximum penalty was life in prison. That the standard sentence was 411-548 months in prison which works out to about 43 years and that while Nash’s defense attorney and the State had worked out a plea deal with what Kurtz called an “Exceptional Sentence Downward” and “far below a normal sentence” the court was not bound to follow that agreement.

Kurtz revealed the sentencing agreement was for 180 weeks of confinement which comes out to about three and a half years. It is basically the same sentence a juvenile would receive for the crime of 1st degree murder. Kurtz also said he will get recommendations from many people but he is not required to follow any of them and can impose the sentence as he sees fit. Nash quietly told the Judge he understood.

The Judge set a sentencing date for Friday May 7th at 1 PM back in his courtroom and imposed several conditions on Nash remaining free until that sentencing date.

Today Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell sent MyEverettNews.com the following statement along with the charging documents:

“This case reminds us all how devastatingly tragic a fire can be. Particularly one intentionally set. It also reminds us that the flames of justice are not easily extinguished, and that perseverance has a way of rewarding those who choose not to give up. The fact that we were able to bring charges in this matter, and the defendant pled guilty as charged at arraignment, is a testament to the very good and important work our county’s law enforcement agencies are doing every day to serve and protect us all.”

About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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