Murder Charges Dropped In Kevin Harper Case

<p>Harper</p>

Harper

Yakima County Prosecutors drop aggravated murder charges today against a Yakima man accused of brutally killing three people in their West Valley home last year.

Kevin Harper pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

And friends of the murdered family are outraged.

Jim and his wife Rocky Faulconer were in absolute disbelief as they listened to prosecutors drop triple murder charges against 30-year old Kevin Harper.

Harper was the prime suspect in the february 2011 killings of Bill and Pauline Goggin, and Bill's mother Bettye. 

But instead of going to trial for murder, today, Harper pleaded guilty to a single count of unlawful possession of a firearm, and one count of possessing stolen property.

"I can't believe it. I mean what have we beeing doing for the last 18-19 months, and they've reduced the charges to just unlawful possession of a firearm?" said Faulconer.

Harper's case took an unexpected turn when new evidence began turning up about a month ago, and the defense accused sheriff's detectives of illegally listening to phone calls between Harper and his attorneys. 

They wanted the case dismissed, but the judge refused.

Today, prosecutors revealed that murder charges against harper probably could not be proven, and earlier this week offered the plea deal.

"Things commonly go wrong in cases, and many times that's no one's fault. This one was one that there were unfortunately a lot of those problems, and they became an issue," said Harper's attorney Peter Mazzone.

Instead, Harper will be facing about 7 years in prison, which his defense attorneys says is the best solution coming from a case that had so many holes.

This comes as sad news for friends of the Goggins -- with possibility of the real killers still on the loose, they fear investigators are back at square one.

"Who is responsible for this, do they know? I mean, is the killer just going to go free?!" said Faulconer.

We asked prosecutors to comment on the plea deal, but they declined.

Harper will be sentenced on January 11.