Chronicle File Photo

Suspect in Death of Vader Toddler Back in Lewis County Following Appeal

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

Danny Wing, who along with his wife pleaded guilty in 2015 and was sentenced to 34 years in prison for the death of 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner, is back in Lewis County for hearings to determine whether he will withdraw his guilty plea due to a Washington State Court of Appeals decision. 

Wing made his first appearance Tuesday morning in Lewis County Superior Court since the appeals court overturned his sentence early this year and ruled that he could withdraw his guilty pleas based on an error in calculating his offender score, a number used to determine sentencing ranges. 

He’ll be back in court at 2 p.m. Friday. 

Jasper Henderling-Warner
Jasper Henderling-Warner

Courtesy Photo

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said that hearing will determine a deadline for when Wing needs to decide whether he will withdraw his guilty pleas to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault or proceed to sentencing. 

Meyer said Wing is arguing that he has a year to make up his mind. 

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. 

Danny Wing
In this Nov. 12, 2014, file photo, Danny Wing talks to a Chronicle reporter about the circumstances surrounding the death of 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner during an interview at the Lewis County Jail in Chehalis.

The Chronicle / File Photo

An autopsy found that he had abuse-related injuries that were weeks and 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, detailing their abuse of the boy — including beatings and scalding with hot water leading to open wounds and a systemic MRSA infection — and were sentenced to 34 years in prison after the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office argued that they violated the terms of an agreement for a lesser sentence by giving false statements, particularly about why they abused the boy. 

Both Wings appealed their sentences. Several months after ruling in Danny Wing’s case, the appeals court issued an identical ruling for Brenda Wing, saying that the prosecutor’s office incorrectly calculated the offender score on the third-degree assault charge, the lesser offense. 

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. However, the appeals court ruled both had the right to withdraw pleas to both charges. 

When interviewed by The Chronicle earlier this year, Danny Wing did not directly answer if he planned to withdraw his guilty plea, saying he wanted to wait for the conclusion of another appeal he filed with the state.

“We may not even need to reach that,” he said of the plea withdrawal. 

Wing told The Chronicle in a letter received in March that he was focusing 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.