Drive-by shooting suspect’s comments can be used at trial

EVERETT — Statements a Marysville man made to police when arrested in June on suspicion of involvement in a fatal drive-by shooting in Lake Stevens can be used at his murder trial next year, a Snohomish County judge ruled Thursday.

Erick N. Walker, 27, was advised of his rights to remain silent and to consult with a defense attorney. He made an informed decision to speak with detectives, Superior Court Judge Marybeth Dingledy concluded after a key hearing in the case.

Walker is charged with first-degree murder in the June 1 death of Molly Conley, 15. He also faces four counts of drive-by shooting for bullets fired into homes in Marysville and Lake Stevens before daybreak June 2.

State forensic scientists reportedly have matched five bullets recovered in the shootings with two handguns seized from Walker’s home. While the bullet that killed Molly apparently has not been recovered, prosecutors believe they have a strong, circumstantial case that the gunfire is connected.

Thursday’s ruling secured a potentially important part of their case.

Walker was arrested June 28 as he was leaving his house. He initially said nothing to police, but before the afternoon was out, he provided detectives with a nearly three-hour taped interview.

Walker denied responsibility for killing Molly or randomly shooting at houses and cars. He also gave conflicting accounts about how he spent the hours when the gunfire was occurring. When confronted with some of the discrepancies, he reportedly admitted that he was driving around Lake Stevens the night Molly was shot.

The freshman from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School was celebrating her 15th birthday. She was walking with girlfriends who had just been at a nearby park.

Walker claimed he was driving around Lake Stevens and got lost looking for a restaurant.

Deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler on Thursday urged the judge to clear the way for the man’s statements to be used at his trial.

Walker did ask if an attorney was at the sheriff’s office when he was taken there for questioning, but he never explicitly requested to talk with counsel, nor did he exercise his right to stop speaking with detectives, the prosecutor said.

Detectives also were insistent that Walker make clear he understood his rights even before they would explain why he had been arrested, Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel said. Further, Walker was told he may have to wait awhile for a defense attorney to join them in the interview room, Mestel noted.

Detectives at Thursday’s hearing were open about not wanting Walker to speak with an attorney, knowing that a lawyer almost certainly would advise him to not answer questions, Mestel said.

“This whole artifice was designed to get a waiver,” he said.

Dingledy said she understood Mestel’s argument, but added she was unaware of any case law that would suggest police had done something improper.

In other developments, Stemler filed paperwork saying he now doesn’t plan to call Lake Stevens police officer James Wellington as a witness.

While Wellington was present at some of the crime scenes, he played no significant role in the investigation, Stemler said.

The officer’s work-related problems, including discipline for not telling the truth, became a point of friction in the case, particularly related to the duty of prosecutors to disclose potential misconduct involving police witnesses. Mestel on Thursday put on the record that he will seek court examination of police personnel files and other remedies if evidence surfaces that prosecutors fail to compel police to share information about officers that the defense has a right to know.

Dingledy also set conditions for a ballistic expert to examine bullets, guns and other forensic evidence.

Stemler said he’s worried about potential damage to key evidence. Mestel said prosecutors were trying to impose too many restrictions. While the judge gave his expert greater access, Mestel said he’s worried whether the work and analysis will be ready in time for Walker’s trial, now scheduled for mid March.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Crews searching for man who fell over Wallace Falls

Divers also were sent to help with the search.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

After work to address issues, Lynnwood gets clean audit

The city has benefited from increased revenues from sales tax.

Bolshevik replaces BS in Eyman’s voters pamphlet statement

The initiative promoter also lost a bid to include a hyperlink to online coverage of the battle.

Pay raise, Tricare fees, ‘couples BAH’ might take months to set

Service members’ combined Basic Allowance for Housing may drop significantly.

Most Read