Mukilteo man sentenced to 35 years in stabbing death

EVERETT — A Mukilteo man who once bragged about being a “stick-up kid” is headed to prison for 35 years for the stabbing death of a young man in Everett.

Luis Verduzco’s body was found April 24, 2012, on W. Madison Street, off Broadway. He had been repeatedly stabbed in the chest. Verduzco, 23, likely collapsed after being attacked inside a Dodge Durango and pushed from the moving vehicle.

A witness reported seeing a young man running down W. Madison Street with his face covered in blood not long before Verduzco’s body was discovered.

The victim “died on a muddy patch of grass near an abandoned garage on an empty lot,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Baldock said Thursday.

He called the slaying a senseless act committed by someone “naturally inclined to violent behavior.”

Derek Donnelly, 33, set Verduzco up for a robbery. On the street Donnelly, a methamphetamine addict, had a reputation for robbing people at knifepoint. He and two other people made plans with Verduzco under the ruse that they wanted to buy drugs from him.

The trio and Verduzco were riding around Everett, smoking meth.

Donnelly, who was seated behind the victim, grabbed him and the two began to fight. Verduzco tried to jump from the vehicle but another man, Martin Salazar, grabbed him. Donnelly stabbed Verduzco from behind and pushed him out of the Durango. The driver, Lathana Neese, didn’t stop.

The trio abandoned the Durango after it broke down on the I-5 near 128th Street SW. Before leaving it behind, they tried to clean up some of the blood using Mountain Dew soda.

In the days and weeks after the killing, Donnelly bragged about what he had done, Baldock said on Thursday.

Donnelly pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on the eve of his trial in June.

The defendant’s attorney was unsuccessful in trying to convince Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas to sentence Donnelly to 27 years behind bars. Everett defense attorney Jesse Cantor said his client has abused meth for years and suffered mental and physical disabilities because of his drug use.

Even with the lesser sentence, his client would be in his 50s when he’s released from prison and facing significant health issues. Those things will make him less likely to commit any additional crimes, Cantor said.

Lucas wasn’t convinced that Donnelly’s drug use was the cause of his violent behavior.

“This really isn’t about the drug. There were two other meth addicts in the car and they didn’t do this,” the judge said.

Salazar was convicted of robbery and rendering criminal assistance last year. He is serving four years in prison. Neese pleaded guilty last year to robbery and kidnapping. She was sentenced to six years behind bars.

Donnelly apologized on Thursday, saying that he had been raised in a good home but had followed a destructive path.

“I’m ashamed to be standing here today,” he said.

Donnelly still faces robbery charges in King County. He is accused of stabbing two women, ages 60 and 54, during a home invasion robbery in December 2011.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley

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