Everett man admits to beating, stabbing woman to death

John Derosia heads back to jail Friday at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Shannon Yeager. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

EVERETT — An Everett man is expected to face a mandatory life sentence after admitting Friday that he murdered Shannon Yeager, a homeless woman whose body was found near the Pigeon Creek Trail last month.

Yeager had been beaten and stabbed to death. She was 46 and the mother of a teenage son.

John Derosia was charged with first-degree murder Wednesday. He pleaded guilty Friday. Because of his past criminal history Derosia is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the chance of release under the state’s persistent offender law.

Yeager’s father attended Friday’s hearing. He could be heard calling for the death penalty.

Derosia, 62, already is a convicted killer. He strangled his wife in 2003 in Lynnwood and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Once released, he allegedly admitted to detectives that he killed a co-worker in the early 1970s and started a fire to cover up the homicide. King County prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Derosia with a crime.

Derosia also has a previous conviction for armed robbery out of Oregon.

Superior Court Judge David Kurtz questioned Derosia at length about his decision to plead guilty, noting that a guilty plea in a third-strike case is unusual.

Kurtz also questioned defense attorney Jennifer Bartlett about her client’s decision and what benefit it is to him. She told the judge there were some potential allegations that the killing was aggravated, putting Derosia at risk for a possible death sentence.

Before she was killed, Yeager told a passerby that she’d been raped. Shortly after his arrest, prosecutors had made some statements that they would consider a possible aggravated murder charge.

The defendant told the judge that given his age he was going to live out the rest of his days in prison even if the charge was reduced.

“I’m just trying to save everyone a little time,” Derosia said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

The Everett man still was under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections when Yeager was killed June 23. He was living in a clean-and-sober house on Pine Street in Everett, according to court papers.

Investigators were told that Yeager had been dating Derosia and the couple had lived together within the past year. Yeager reportedly had been staying at a camp near the Port of Everett.

Derosia told police that he attacked Yeager at the camp, beating her with his fists and stabbing her with a knife. He said he thought Yeager was dead and he left for home to change his clothes. He told police he returned to the camp to hide Yeager’s body and discovered that she wasn’t there.

He found her on the Pigeon Creek Trail. He said he slammed her head into the pavement until she died.

However, there is evidence that Yeager likely was stabbed where she was found, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Katie Wetmore wrote in charging papers. The stab wounds likely wouldn’t have allowed her to travel from the camp to where a man encountered her on the trail, according to court documents.

That man told officers that he crossed paths with a badly injured Yeager around 4 a.m. She was naked from the waist down. She said she’d been beaten and raped. Her face was bruised and swollen and there was blood on her face. Yeager told the man she felt like she was going to die. She asked for help.

He gave her some pants from his backpack and went to find someone with a phone. Yeager was sitting against a fence when he left her.

A call came into 911 at 4:17 a.m. A man reported that someone told him there was a woman bleeding under a bridge. Officers were given the address of the 2700 block of Terminal Avenue. The caller didn’t describe the woman or her injuries, Everett officer Aaron Snell said.

The first officer arrived about four minutes later. Two other officers also responded to the area. They were unable to locate an injured woman and cleared the scene at 4:29 a.m., Snell said.

A railroad worker called 911 at 9:26 a.m. reporting that he spotted a body along the trail near the tracks. That was about 50 yards from where the passerby had first encountered Yeager.

She was about 20 feet west of the train tracks. She was resting against a utility box and a jacket was pulled over her head.

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

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