Judge: Man Convicted in Death of Vader Boy Has 1 Month to Make Up His Mind on Plea

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

Danny Wing will have one more month to decide whether he will withdraw his guilty pleas in the 2014 death of 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner — a chance granted to him by the state Court of Appeals after it overturned his 34-year-sentence on a technicality earlier this year. 

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee ruled Friday that Wing will have until Nov. 13 to notify the court in writing of his intent to withdraw his guilty pleas. 

“On that day, if he has not filed in writing his withdrawal of (his) guilty plea, I will deem that to be waived,” Toynbee ruled. 

Jasper Henderling-Warner
Jasper Henderling-Warner

Courtesy Photo

If Wing withdraws his guilty pleas, Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer previously told The Chronicle his office plans to refile charges and take Wing to trial if need be. 

If Wing does not withdraw his pleas, he will be re-sentenced in accordance with the Court of Appeals’ order.

Wing made his first appearance Tuesday morning in Lewis County Superior Court since his 34-year sentence in the toddler’s death was overturned by the state Court of Appeals earlier this year.

The appeals court also ruled, as it did for his wife, Brenda Wing, that he could withdraw his pleas to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault based on an error in calculating his offender score — a number used to determine sentencing ranges — on the assault charge. 

The prosecutor’s office countered that the shorter sentence for third-degree assault was essentially absorbed by the longer 34-year sentence for first-degree manslaughter and that the error had no negative effect on the Wings, but the Court of Appeals did not change its ruling.

The appeals court’s decision does not specifically list a deadline by which Wing must make a decision one way or the other. 

Wing and his attorney, Sean Downs of Grecco Downs in Vancouver and Spokane, asked Toynbee to allow Wing to delay his decision for a year. 

While the appeals court granted Wing the chance to withdraw his plea months ago, he has decided thus far not to take that step, Downs said. Downs said court rules allow Wing one year to make a decision. 

However, deputy prosecutor Sara Beigh countered that the court rules Downs cited were not strictly applicable to Wing’s situation. 

“The state’s position is there is not a one-year time period,” she said. “He’s known for the last 226 days that he could have this outcome. Mr. Wing cannot show why this would be a necessary delay.”

Toynbee agreed with Beigh’s argument. 

“I don’t find there’s any connection to a one-year time limit,” he said

Downs noted that Wing is still pursuing his appeals. 

In March, Wing told The Chronicle he no longer accepted blame in the toddler’s death and said he planned to pursue a defense arguing that the boy received injuries from another person. 

According to court documents and their own statements, Danny and Brenda Wing had taken in Henderling-Warner along with their own children more than two months before he died in October 2014. 

An autopsy found that he had abuse-related injuries that were weeks- to months-old, and concluded that his primary cause of death was “chronic battered child syndrome,” according to court documents.

Both Danny and Brenda Wing pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault in the boy’s death.

When they pleaded guilty, they each agreed to 12-year sentences. However, the prosecutor’s office required them to give truthful statements of what caused Henderling-Warner’s death. 

The prosecutor’s office argued that both Wings did not pass polygraphs required to prove their honesty and added aggravating factors to their charges, allowing for a longer sentence. The Court of Appeals ruled the prosecutor’s office did not breach the plea agreement. 

Wing told The Chronicle in March that he was focussing more on a Personal Restraint Petition with the Washington state Court of Appeals for Division II Nov. 9, 2016 asking the court to dismiss his case, alleging that calls with his defense counsel and related to his defense were “illegally” monitored by the Lewis County Jail. 

The Court of Appeals has not yet ruled on that case. 

Brenda Wing has also been granted the opportunity to withdraw her plea and has yet to make her first appearance in Superior Court since the appeals court’s ruling.