Life in prison possible for fatal drive-by shooting of teen

EVERETT — Prosecutors say a Marysville man faces “substantial prison time, possibly the rest of his life” behind bars if convicted as charged Thursday for unleashing a storm of violence that in one June night ended the life of a 15-year-old girl and sent bullets crashing into four homes in Lake Stevens and Marysville.

Erick N. Walker, 27, “exhibited extreme indifference to human life” June 1 when he opened fire on Molly Conley and five of her friends as he drove past them along a narrow Lake Stevens road, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said in court papers.

“Because (Molly) was so close to the vehicle when the shooter fired the gun, it is reasonable to conclude that the shooter had the gun prepared and decided to fire the bullet at (her) with premeditated intent to kill,” he said in papers filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

The prosecutor charged Walker with one count of first-degree murder in connection with Molly’s killing. He added four counts of drive-by shooting for gunfire that came in the hours immediately after. Multiple homes and cars in Lake Stevens and Marysville were hit by bullets before sunrise June 2.

While the bullet that struck Molly has not been found, tests on five bullets recovered from the drive-by shootings match two handguns seized from Walker’s house, Stemler said in court papers.

When Walker was arrested June 28, he denied any involvement. He’s been locked up since at the county jail in Everett, his bail set at $5 million.

Molly was nicknamed “4.0” because of her good grades as a freshman at Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School. She and her girlfriends were in Lake Stevens to celebrate her birthday at the home of one teen’s father. They were returning from a walk to a nearby park when a bullet struck her in the neck. She died at the scene.

Police had no suspects but were open in their suspicion that a string of apparently random drive-by shootings in the hours after Molly’s killing may be connected.

Walker became a suspect after detectives determined he owned the same type of weapon their tests suggested was used in the drive-bys. His black Pontiac G6 coupe also had damage consistent with having struck a car at one of the shooting scenes, according to court papers.

Walker is represented by seasoned defense attorney Mark Mestel. At a court appearance after his client’s arrest, Mestel did not question that police had cause to detain his client in connection with the drive-bys. No evidence had been produced, however, linking Walker to Molly’s killing, he said.

Search warrants filed earlier in the case say detectives hope to track Walker’s movements the night of the shootings using cellphone data. They also were conducting tests using surveillance video that may have filmed the shooter’s vehicle in the area moments before Molly was killed.

The affidavit Stemler filed Thursday provides no update on those aspects of the investigation.

Walker was expected to be arraigned on the new charges Friday.

The Boeing worker is facing a potential life sentence if convicted as charged, Stemler said in court papers. He wants the $5 million bail maintained.

“While the defendant has no criminal history, the violent and random nature of the multiple offenses committed show that the defendant is a danger to commit additional crimes of violence if released,” Stemler wrote. “He shot a girl walking down the street, and fired into a variety of occupied houses.”

Eric Stevick contributed to this report. Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com

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