Snohomish sex offender sentenced to life in prison

SEATTLE -- A convicted sex offender who tried to lure an 11-year-old boy through Facebook will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A Grays Harbor County judge sentenced {A href=""}Joel Alexander Monday morning to life in prison without parole for attempted child rape.

Detectives say Alexander was communicating with an 11-year-old Elma boy via Facebook, but when the discussion took on a sexual tone, the boy's mother stepped in and called police.

Alexander, a level-2 sex offender, was convicted 11 years ago of raping a child. Because of that previous conviction, Alexander was automatically sentenced to life in prison under the state's persistent offender law, which states, "A persistent offender shall be sentenced to a term of total confinement for life without the possibility of release."

While this was the second sex offense conviction for Alexander, prosecutors believe he victimized many more children in both Washington and Oregon.

In 1998, Alexander "admitted to having 17 previous uncharged victims ranging in age from 5 to 16," according to court documents.

In a statement to the court, Grays Harbor County Prosecutor H. Steward Menefee said Alexander is exactly the type of person the persistent offender statute was designed for.

"As the evidence in this case showed, the defendant is not safe to be at large and the only way to offer the community sufficient protection is to incarcerate him for the remainder of his life," the statement reads.