Murder trial begins for man accused of lawyer stabbings

EVERETT — No lawyers were injured on Thursday as a murder trial got under way for an Everett man accused of stabbing three of his previous attorneys.

Joshua Monson, 28, was seated at a separate table, away from his latest attorney, Walter Peale. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Larry McKeeman initially ordered Monson’s hands to be restrained. He decided to allow the defendant to have one hand free if he agreed to be seated away from Peale.

Monson also is strapped to his chair and has restraints under his clothing. He also is wearing an electric stun cuff that corrections officers can activate if he gets out of line.

Courtroom furniture was rearranged to keep the restraints out of the sight of jurors.

Prosecutors asked for the extra security measures because Monson is accused of stabbing three of his attorneys with smuggled pencils and one lawyer with the attorney’s own pen. Monson ended up representing himself last year in a felony drug trial after he allegedly stabbed his third attorney in front of jurors.

The jury isn’t expected to hear about those incidents or the handful of other assaults on corrections officers.

Monson is charged with first-degree murder with a firearm and unlawful gun possession in connection with a Jan. 2, 2011, shooting.

An unarmed Brian Jones, 30, was talking on a cellphone when he was shot in the back of the head at close range, according to court documents. A witness reportedly told detectives that Monson admitted that he killed Jones, court papers say. Other witnesses said that there may have been bad blood between the two because of a woman.

Monson denies killing Jones.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Valerie Bouffiou told jurors on Thursday that a couple of days before the fatal shooting, Monson asked a woman if he could “waste someone” in her apartment. The prosecutor also said that Monson’s genetic evidence was found on the gun used to kill Jones.

She advised jurors that they would be hearing from a cast of drug addicts whose lifestyles may be difficult to understand. The defendant and Jones, 30, had been smoking methamphetamine in the hours leading up to the shooting. She also explained that three other people in the apartment heard the gunfire but didn’t see the shooting.

Police initially arrested one of those men before their investigation led them to Monson.

Peale pointed out that the detectives believe they arrested the wrong guy the first time.

“Did they get it wrong the second time? That’s the question before you,” Peale told jurors.

Some of the scientific evidence that the prosecutors are relying on to pin the murder on Monson isn’t conclusive, Peale said.

Monson’s genetic material was found on the gun because it belonged to him. That doesn’t prove that he killed Jones, the veteran defense attorney said. Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that the shot could have come from different locations in the apartment, making it impossible to know who is responsible for the death.

“Four people could have fired the fatal shot,” Peale said.

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

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