WENATCHEE — Michael Lauderdale on Thursday was again sentenced to life in prison for the 1994 murder of 21-year-old Jeremy Wood.
“This is something that you’re going to have to just pay for and let it be,” said Tara Wood, Jeremy Wood’s sister. “Unless you change your soul, there is no way, no hope for you and I don’t believe you’re at that point.”
Tara Wood was one of 14 friends and family members who attended Lauderdale’s sentencing hearing in Chelan County Superior Court.
On Sept. 17, 1994, Lauderdale, 19 at the time, beat Jeremy Wood to death with a baseball bat and then raped his dead body. He was supposed to be giving Jeremy Wood a ride home from a party. Jeremy Wood was found the next day by a jogger.
Lauderdale was convicted in 1995 of aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree murder and then sentenced on both charges to life in prison without parole.
In 2018, Lauderdale appealed his sentence in Chelan County Superior Court, claiming a double jeopardy violation — two sentences for one crime. The Chelan County Prosecutor’s Office conceded earlier this year that Lauderdale shouldn’t have been sentenced on both murder charges.
Judge Kristin Ferrera on Thursday sentenced Lauderdale, now 44, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, this time for one count of aggravated first-degree murder.
“I am disgusted by the audacity that you have to come back all these years later and reopen these wounds for us,” said Angie Fullerton, a friend of Jeremy Wood.
Fullerton testified against Lauderdale in trial 25 years ago. She said she went blank when she took the stand.
“I just want you to know that I’m not scared of you anymore, and we will always be here for Jeremy,” Fullerton said. “I hope you don’t go anywhere — ever — except to a coffin.”
The sentence wasn’t unexpected. His attorney, Jeremy Ford, said Lauderdale engineered the hearing, in part, as a way to apologize to Wood's family and friends, something he says he didn’t know how to do 25 years ago.
“When I was here before I had no idea what to say,” Lauderdale said. “How does one apologize for the crime I’ve committed? What can sorry possibly mean in the scope of such a thing? It sounds trite. Selfish even.”
Jason Barb was at the party when Jeremy Wood was last seen alive. And he was at a party with Lauderdale the next night.
“You acted like you did absolutely nothing,” Barb said. “I was just wondering what kind of a person would commit acts like that and show no remorse the following day for doing something so heinous?”
Lauderdale replied, “The answer is that I really didn’t know what to do at that point and time. I wanted to pretend like everything was normal. I had no idea what to do.”
Soft-spoken, Lauderdale said he’s not the person he was at 19, and touted his work in prison helping others and furthering his education.
“I know to many I am still the 19-year-old monster who stole away their friend, their brother and their son. I’m a criminal to all,” Lauderdale said. Adding, “To all of these people I would say, you are justified, correct, but only in reference to the teenager of 25 years ago. I’ve done and continue to do everything I can to better myself so I can better others.”
Following the hearing, Jeremy Wood’s father, John Wood, called the situation sad, saying that while Lauderdale took his son’s life, Lauderdale took his own life as well by committing a crime that’s resulted in a lifelong prison term.
“I’m glad to know he’s going to be inside,” John Wood said. “He may have changed — and I hope he has — but once again, he’s enjoying the fruits of what he’s done.”