EVERETT — The Everett woman began to fear for her life in 2017.
Her estranged husband called, ordering her to move back home. “Or else.”
“Normally, when people threaten to kill you, it doesn’t feel serious,” the woman, 27, said on the witness stand in Snohomish County Superior Court.
But those words scared her, she said.
The husband told her he wanted full custody of the children and child support. He threatened that if he didn’t get those things, he would kill her, according to her testimony.
“Or what?” the wife recalled asking.
“You heard me,” the ex-husband reportedly responded. “I’ll (expletive) kill you.”
A jury trial is now in its third week for the ex-husband, Kevin Lewis, 34, of Lynnwood. He is charged with aggravated first-degree murder for the death of his ex-wife’s sister, Alisha Canales-McGuire, 24, in a botched killing-for-hire.
Canales-McGuire was shot to death inside the front doorway of a home in the 3100 block of York Road south of Everett. She was not supposed to be the target of the gunfire, however, prosecutors alleged.
According to charging papers, Lewis had paid $2,400 to his cousin, Jerradon Phelps, to kill his ex-wife because he wanted her “out of the way.”
Phelps and Alexis Hale, 17, drove from Spokane to the ex-wife’s house near Everett on Sept. 20, 2017, with plans to kill her, according to the charges.
But when Phelps showed up to the wife’s house at 1:55 a.m., it was the ex-wife’s sister who answered the door. Phelps, then 19, opened fire, the charges say.
Court papers show Lewis had left his wife with bruises and bloody injuries when they were still together.
They got divorced in June 2017, months before the killing. In August 2017, the ex-wife was granted full custody of her children.
In 2018, Lewis was sentenced to three years in prison for two counts of second-degree assault against his ex-wife. At a sentencing hearing in that domestic case, his ex-wife told a judge she believed the fatal shots were meant for her.
But she was out of town on a business trip in New York City in September 2017. Her sister was staying at her house, babysitting her three children.
Detectives quickly identified Lewis as a potential suspect in the death. He “figured prominently as the person with the motive to kill,” according to detectives.
Dozens of people spoke with detectives in the hours after the shooting.
Neighbors testified in court that they heard a sound resembling a sledgehammer. One went to a window and saw a man running.
One neighbor showed detectives home security footage. The video showed a man in a white tanktop, later identified as Lewis, getting into a car around 1:13 a.m. and returning at 1:37 a.m., according to charging papers. Investigators believe Lewis showed Phelps and Hale the duplex where his ex-wife lived.
Detectives knocked on Lewis’ door at 5 a.m. that morning. He answered wearing a white tanktop.
Leads went cold until the summer of 2018, when Hale told two people at a party that she killed somebody on York Road, according to charging papers. The two people tipped off detectives about Hale’s admission.
Phelps and Alexis Hale, then 17, were arrested for investigation of first-degree aggravated murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Last year, Phelps pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for December. Hale pleaded guilty to the same crime last year. She was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
Lewis had been charged with murder in 2019, while he was in custody for his assault convictions. Detectives went to the Snohomish County Jail to tell him he was under investigation for the killing of Canales-McGuire.
Trial testimony was expected to continue into next week. Phelps was expected to take the witness stand.
Under state law, Lewis faces only one possible sentence if convicted: life in prison.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen