‘Blood oath’ comments to police can be used in trial, judge says

  • Fri May 14th, 2010 11:03pm
  • News

By Diana Hefley Herald Writer

EVERETT — Eric Christensen told detectives he fought with his girlfriend after learning that she was still seeing another man despite taking a “blood oath.”

A judge on Friday ruled that a jury will be allowed to hear the details of the ceremony and the rest of the interview that Christensen gave to detectives the day before he was arrested for murder.

Christensen, 40, is scheduled to go to trial later this month, charged with killing, mutilating and dismembering Sherry Harlan.

Prosecutors allege that Christensen became enraged in January when he learned that Harlan continued to exchange text messages with an older man. Detectives believe Christensen killed Harlan in her Everett apartment Jan. 2 and then scattered her remains in various locations around east Snohomish County.

Harlan’s skull was found Jan. 7 in her burned-out car near Gold Bar. A witness later told investigators that Christensen had admitted to killing her and solicited help to dispose of her remains.

Detectives had interviewed Christensen on Jan. 6 while investigating Harlan’s disappearance. She hadn’t shown up for work. Neighbors had heard an argument coming from her apartment early Jan. 2.

Investigators found signs of violence in Harlan’s apartment. There were large blood stains. Patches of carpet and linoleum had been ripped up. Parts of her mattress had been cut away. The apartment smelled strongly of bleach.

During the interview, detectives noted that Christensen had scratches on his face and arms. He also was treated for cuts to his hand. Christensen said he’d been attacked during a robbery by three men a few days earlier.

Christensen explained to detectives he and Harlan took an oath in December to stay faithful to each other. Harlan vowed to stop seeing her “sugar daddy,” Christensen said.

He told detectives that in ancient times anyone who broke a blood oath could be beaten, bludgeoned, cast out or put to death.

Christensen said he and Harlan fought after he saw text messages from the other man, according to his statement. He accused Harlan of breaking her oath and being unfaithful. He told detectives that mean that “her blood might as well be sewage water, and in the ancient text ways, she’d become a warlock,” a traitor or enemy, according to court documents.

Christensen said after the argument he left Harlan’s apartment. She was alive and uninjured, Christensen said.

Prosecutors allege that Christensen plotted to murder Harlan when he thought she was being unfaithful. He is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege the slaying was premeditated.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson had planned to support the theory by introducing testimony about Christensen’s 1994 assault conviction.

Christensen was sentenced to a dozen years in prison for shooting at his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. He called the shooting a “blood run” after learning the woman had been unfaithful to him. He told police he intended to kill the woman but the sights were off on his rifle.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne sided with defense attorney Kathleen Kyle, saying the details of that earlier conviction were too prejudicial against Christensen. The judge won’t allow prosecutors to raise the issue at trial.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.