EVERETT — Brenda Welch survived him.
He lit her on fire. He clobbered her in the eye, breaking her nose. He bludgeoned her with a sharp-edged garden tool until she fell to the ground, unconscious and gasping for air.
Welch survived David Morgan.
A Snohomish County jury convicted the Lynnwood man Tuesday of attempted first-degree murder, assault and arson. Jurors needed less than an hour to deliberate.
Welch, 46, rushed into the courtroom from her work, a preschool where she’s an assistant teacher. She exhaled and stifled a sob as the clerk read the verdict.
Morgan simply shook his head.
His attorneys said he plans to appeal. The former Boeing electrical inspector is scheduled to be sentenced next week. He faces decades behind bars.
Morgan, 56, has denied plotting his ex-wife’s death. He told detectives he fell asleep in front of the television and awoke to someone striking him in the head. He said a second blow knocked him out. He said he came to and found Welch on fire.
Morgan told detectives he tried to extinguish the flames and fled, thinking Welch was behind him.
A neighbor called in the blaze and firefighters were there within three minutes. Morgan was outside on the ground. Welch was inside, near death.
Welch woke up in the hospital.
Doctors found burns to her back, chest and left shoulder and leg. Her skull was fractured and her left eye socket was crushed. She had three deep gashes to her head. She is deaf in her right ear and lost her senses of taste and smell.
The paramedics who found Welch testified that she reeked of gasoline.
In closing arguments, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern told jurors Welch’s injuries left no doubt what happened in the home.
“Her body tells you what her words can’t,” he said.
Stern accused Morgan of splashing gasoline on Welch and lighting her on fire inside the house. A bloody attack played out in the garage.
Welch’s blood was found on Morgan’s left hand and the sleeve of his shirt. Her blood was spattered in the garage. Detectives discovered a hand-held garden cultivator just inside the front door.
Doctors testified that the tines on the cultivator could have caused the gashes to Welch’s head.
Jurors were told that Morgan’s car was loaded with family photographs, home movies, old income tax returns and recently filled prescription bottles. The day before, he’d removed his cats from the house. He dropped off his daughter at his mother’s house.
Stern speculated that Morgan was trying to avoid paying his ex-wife child support and part of his Boeing pension. He was in financial trouble, and he wanted a way out, Stern said.
Reporters gathered around the deputy prosecutor after Tuesday’s verdict in what was his 200th trial. Stern thanked the jurors and praised the detectives and forensic scientists who pieced together what happened to Welch.
Stern also praised the people who saved Welch’s life. She made it because of them, and she survived because of her strength, he said.
“Brenda Welch is an amazing woman who went through an ordeal like nothing else,” Stern said.