Wayne Alpert waits to be placed in handcuffs after being found guilty, for the 2017 shooting death of one man, and for assaulting another, at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 in Everett, Wa. Alpert, now 61, was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree assault. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Wayne Alpert waits to be placed in handcuffs after being found guilty, for the 2017 shooting death of one man, and for assaulting another, at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 in Everett, Wa. Alpert, now 61, was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree assault. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Lynnwood man resentenced to 11 years for sudden killing of stranger

A successful appeal opened the door for a shorter sentence for Wayne Alpert in the shooting of Seaton “Jeff” Baker.

MARYSVILLE — A Lynnwood man got a new sentence Friday after successfully appealing his conviction for shooting and killing a stranger outside of an apartment complex in 2017.

In May, Wayne Alpert, 66, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault for the killing of Seaton “Jeff” Baker. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Marybeth Dingledy sentenced Alpert to 11 years Friday. He has already served about six of those years.

In October 2018, Alpert, then 61, was sentenced to 19 years after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and second-degree assault. But an appeal court’s ruling in 2020 opened the door for a new sentence.

In June 2017, Alpert was on the bus going to visit his grandson. He yelled at a Community Transit bus driver, and pointed a gun at a fellow rider after they got off the bus, according to court documents.

He then wandered into an Marysville apartment complex, where his grandson lived with his wife.

Baker was with a neighbor drinking on an apartment balcony. Baker, 59, noticed Alpert and asked if he knew anyone there. Baker came down to talk to Alpert, and followed him around a corner, according to court records. Then the neighbor heard gunshots.

One bullet went through Baker’s heart. Alpert shot him seven more times while he was on the ground, prosecutors alleged. Alpert said he stood over Baker’s body and dropped the magazine on his chest.

Police reportedly found Alpert on a nearby curb, shouting, “I shot him. I shot him.”

Later in custody, Alpert bragged about his marksmanship, comparing the shooting to target practice, according to prosecutors.

After his first sentence was handed down, Alpert appealed his conviction, arguing the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury he had “no duty to retreat,” which prevented him from clearly presenting a self-defense claim, according to court documents.

Over two years later, the state Court of Appeals agreed with Alpert. The court noted the evidence provided by witnesses at the trial did not indicate Alpert was the initial aggressor in the confrontation with Baker, 59.

On Friday, the defendant’s lawyers asked for 11 years in prison, arguing he was an elderly man with health problems, suffering from mental illness and trauma.

A social worker noted the deterioration of Alpert’s mental health after a series of traumatic episodes, including the suicide of his son, a significant brain injury from a fall and being assaulted after getting off a bus.

Alpert’s son reported the incidents may have led his father to purchase a gun a few weeks before the shooting.

The defendant also had problems at his apartment complex in Lynnwood. A landlord petitioned for an anti-harassment order two weeks before the shooting, saying Alpert displayed signs of schizophrenia and that he was intimidating, according to court records.

The day of the killing, a woman who lived in the building wrote an email to management, saying residents were concerned for their safety because of Alpert.

Deputy prosecutor Bob Hendrix asked for a sentence of 14½ years.

“Starting a confrontation with a stranger is a statement,” Hendrix said in court. “There is simply nothing in the record that suggests he is any less of a threat.”

In court Friday, Baker’s eldest brother, Gene Gosnell, was angry at the criminal justice system for having to go through this again.

“He was about ready to retire, we were going to go to Arizona and get property and spend our golden years there,” he said in court. “He took that away from my brother and I. Why should he be able to be let free?”

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

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