EVERETT — An Everett man is facing decades in prison after admitting Wednesday that he attacked two Maltby-area women with a knife early last year, killing one and leaving the other seriously wounded.
John Dimitri Kuljis Jr., 32, pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree murder and first-degree assault for the Feb. 19, 2017 surprise attack.
Kuljis was working at the home where Janine Shaffer, then 62, lived with her mother, Barbara Decker, 78.
He cut both women’s throats, ending Decker’s life.
Shaffer was in Snohomish County Superior Court while Kuljis entered his guilty pleas. So were other members of her family.
Under state law, the killer must serve his sentences on each count consecutively. That means he faces a minimum of 22 years locked away, although deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell told the court he plans to ask for the maximum under state guidelines, more than 32 years.
Judge Michael Downes scheduled sentencing for May 11.
Before accepting the guilty pleas, the judge carefully questioned Kuljis about the rights he was surrendering in not taking the case to trial.
“Is that what you want to do?” Downes asked.
“Yes, sir,” Kuljis said.
The defendant’s uncle had been hired to do some work on a bathroom floor at the home where Decker and Shaffer lived. He brought Kuljis along to help.
Decker was fatally slashed while she was at the kitchen sink, washing dishes. Shaffer was attacked from behind and managed to fight off her attacker and call 911, despite a deep wound to her neck.
Kuljis has no serious criminal history, though he has arrests for drugs, including one three days before the attack. After the attack he told investigators that he has been living with an opioid addiction. His attorney, public defender Fred Moll, said his client had carefully considered his options before pleading guilty. Kuljis had the paperwork for the plea agreement for weeks prior to Wednesday’s hearing, he said.
Decker was retired and for many years had managed apartments in Everett. She liked to bake and was known for sharing cookies and banana cake with visitors.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.