John Reed talks to his public defenders during his arraignment in 2016 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

John Reed talks to his public defenders during his arraignment in 2016 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Man accused in Oso neighbors’ deaths to claim self defense

John Blaine Reed had a long-running dispute with Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude.

EVERETT — A man charged with killing an Oso couple plans to present evidence that he acted in self defense.

John Blaine Reed, 55, is charged with aggravated murder in the gunshot killings of Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude. The husband and wife disappeared in April 2016 and were later found buried in a makeshift grave several miles from their Oso-area home.

Everett defense attorney Phil Sayles late last week filed a single-page notice in Snohomish County Superior Court, making clear that Reed maintains he acted in self defense.

“My client is innocent of the allegations,” the lawyer said Tuesday. “The evidence will show that the alleged victims in this case … in fact were the aggressors and my client acted in self defense to save his life.”

Sayles declined to elaborate.

Reed on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to amended charges in the case, accusing him of having killed Shunn second as part of an effort to conceal Patenaude’s death.

Craig Matheson, the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor, had little to say about Reed’s planned self-defense claim.

“That’s an interesting assertion. We will see how it will play out in court,” he said.

Prosecutors have alleged in court papers that both Patenaude and Shunn were shot at close range, and the only significant injury to him was a bullet wound to the back of his head.

Detectives allege evidence shows the killings were the final chapter in a long-running property dispute that Reed reportedly had with Shunn and Patenaude, who were his neighbors. The dispute reportedly got worse after the deadly 2014 mudslide made Reed’s land unsafe for habitation.

Reed took a disaster buyout, but had been squatting at the site. Patenaude reported him shortly before the killings, according to court papers.

Judge Bruce Weiss on Tuesday reset Reed’s trial for March, instead of February. It is expected to last up to a month.

Reed did not object to the delay. He has been locked up in the county jail in Everett since his arrest in Mexico during summer 2016.

If convicted, Reed faces life in prison.

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

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