Judge denies self-defense claim in manslaughter sentencing

  • Thu Mar 20th, 2014 5:44pm
  • News

By Eric Stevick Herald Writer

EVERETT — A judge on Thursday didn’t buy a Lake Stevens man’s claim that he was acting in self-defense when he took a life in Lynnwood.

Leo Scott, 36, was sentenced in Snohomish County Superior Court to 5 1/2 years in prison — the maximum based on his second-degree manslaughter conviction and criminal history. At trial, a jury acquitted Scott of second-degree murder in the death of Windell Vaughn, 32.

Vaughn was found lying face down in a Lynnwood house on 204th Street SW. A large kitchen knife had pierced his lungs and heart.

Prosecutors alleged the convicted felon stabbed Vaughn during an argument.

Witnesses reported hearing the two men shouting. Another reported seeing Scott holding a knife with the blade embedded in Vaughn’s torso.

A witness wrestled the knife away and Vaughn collapsed.

Police found Scott riding a bicycle about 20 blocks from the homicide scene. He was arrested after a brief struggle with officers.

Scott, 36, claimed that he stabbed Vaughn in self-defense. A jury found him criminally negligent in Vaughn’s death but wasn’t persuaded he intended to kill him.

Judge Eric Lucas rejected a defense argument that the defendant should be given a prison term below the standard sentencing range. He pointed out that the victim was stabbed by a knife with a 7 1/2-inch serrated blade.

Based on testimony at trial, Lucas said he was convinced there were no grounds to believe it was a case of self-defense.

The victim “was not the initiator, not the aggressor and not the provoker,” Lucas said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com