A man who stabbed to death a prostitute and started a fire in her apartment in an attempt to hide his crime, was sentenced this month to 30 years in a Washington prison.
The 32-year-old was found guilty last month of murder and arson, both in the first degree. The crimes are Class A felonies and each carries a punishment of up to life in prison, or a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
The killing and arson occurred in March 2015. The man was broke after having been kicked out of the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. He stole her SUV, which he was living in, and had gambled away $25,000 he scammed from several people who were suing to get back their money. In addition, the man was worried he would be deported back to China. Prosecutors in the murder case speculated that the man planned to rob a prostitute to get money.
During his trial, it was revealed that the man tried to hide his identity while phoning multiple sex workers he found advertising in a local newspaper. The 37-year-old victim lived alone in a luxury apartment building. Video-surveillance footage from the complex showed the man being buzzed into the victim's building and riding the elevator to her floor. An hour later, he was shown again on video leaving the building, carrying a large bag and walking to his SUV parked in the garage.
While the man was in the apartment, prosecutors said he demanded money from the woman. When she resisted, he stabbed her repeatedly. She suffered multiple superficial wounds to her breasts, presumably while the man was trying to force her to turn over her valuables. An autopsy showed she also was stabbed in the heart and at least 10 more times in the back.
Prosecutors said the man ransacked the apartment and started a fire in the closet to destroy evidence. Soon after he left, sprinklers doused the blaze before it could spread and an alarm altered firefighters who discovered the woman's body.
He man fled the state, but was spotted days later by an astute highway worker. The suspect was asleep in a vehicle at a Northern California rest stop and arrested by U.S. Marshals. While on the run, the man tried to sell to an Oregon pawn shop items stolen from the victim's apartment.
At trial it was revealed that investigators found the man's DNA in the victim's bathroom sink and they found the victim's DNA on one of the suspect's shirts. A telephone conversation recorded while the man was in jail also was played during the trial. During the call, the man told a friend he had killed someone.
It took a jury of six men and six women less than a day to decide the man was guilty of the murder and the arson.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone charged with a criminal act deserves the best defense. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.