It was the plea deal that shocked Yakima; a year and a half after three people were found brutally beaten to death it their West Valley home, prosecutors decided they did not have the evidence to convict their prime suspect Kevin Harper. Our news partner KIMA Action News reports those 19-months of negotiations, court appearances and research all cost you the tax-payers more than $370,000 dollars.

Yakima County is not apologizing.

"You are innocent until proven guilty," said Yakima County Court Administrator Harold Delia. "And, so the system actually worked in my opinion. Were the costs extraordinary for the actual plea agreement? You bet. But that's how the system is."

From the beginning the case was bogged with delays. Yakima considered the death penalty which required a second attorney.

When the death penalty was off the table, the second attorney was off the case, but later re-hired to keep things moving.

KIMA discovered attorney fees alone ate up about half the cost of the case at $181,000.

That, with costs racked up by the investigation, experts and a special prosecutor added up to a $323,000-bill.

Harper's jail tab is over $55,000, which is from more than 600 days behind bars.

An expense that grows every day as Harper awaits his sentencing.