Guilty verdict in 2014 stabbing death near Lynnwood

EVERETT — A Lynnwood man is looking at more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of murder Monday in a fatal stabbing last fall.

A Snohomish County Superior Court jury found Encarnacion “EJ” Salas IV guilty of second-degree murder with a knife.

Salas, 24, had faced trial on the more serious charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutors said the killing was premeditated, but Salas’ attorney maintained the defendant acted in self defense.

Sentencing is scheduled Thursday.

Salas was charged after the Oct. 24, 2014, death of Jesus “Jesse” Cardenas Lopez, 34. Jurors heard differing stories about the violence.

Prosecutors said Salas attacked Cardenas Lopez in anger over the victim’s wish for their relationship to become more intimate. Salas maintained he was wounded fighting off the victim’s advances.

The killing occurred in front of Cardenas Lopez’s mother in a home she shared with her son near Lynnwood.

“Mom, help me, I’m dying,” the victim reportedly said. She pulled on the defendant’s ears and nose trying to reach her son.

Salas eventually climbed off Cardenas Lopez and went out onto a balcony. The dying man’s mother locked him outside and sought help.

Salas was gone when police arrived, reportedly fleeing without even waiting to put on his shoes.

Detectives tracked him down the next day. He reportedly was hiding in the closet at his apartment. He didn’t comply with commands and was zapped twice with electric shocks before surrendering.

Salas was found with a deep cut to his right forearm. When taken to an area hospital before being booked into jail, Salas claimed the wound came from an encounter with a tree, or perhaps some barbed wire.

When the nurse asked more questions, he laughed and said, “I killed someone,” according to court papers.

In closing arguments, lawyers focused attention on Salas’ wound. Deputy prosecutor Cindy Larsen said Salas cut himself after fleeing the scene. Defense attorney Paul Thompson said the cut was from Cardenas Lopez, who he said had wielded the knife at the start of the fight.

Jurors deliberated for about four and a half hours Friday. They resumed for a couple of hours Monday morning before announcing their verdict.

Cardenas Lopez had worked in customer service and played the saxophone.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @snorthnews.

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