Man convicted in 1999 Seattle shipyard killings

By Gene Johnson

Associated Press

SEATTLE – A King County Superior Court jury today convicted Kevin Cruz of shooting two people to death and wounding two others at a Lake Union shipyard in November 1999.

Cruz, 32, of suburban SeaTac, was convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. Cruz faces a sentence of either death or life in prison without possibility of release for the murder counts, with his fate to be decided at a penalty hearing before the jury.

The case went to the jury Thursday.

During his trial, prosecutors alleged that Cruz harbored a grudge against the Northlake Shipyard because he never fit in there as an employee and because its insurance company initially refused to pay medical bills for a supposed injury he suffered on the job.

Prosecutors said that on the morning of Nov. 3, 1999, Cruz walked into an office at the shipyard wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses. They alleged he fired 11 rounds, killing Peter Giles, 27, and Russell Brisendine, 43, and wounding Jaromir Mach and Patrick Ming before walking out.

Police swarmed the residential neighborhood searching for a suspect.

They found none until two months later, when a mountain biker discovered a backpack in nearby Gasworks Park. The backpack, lined with foil, contained a camouflage jacket, a camouflage Budweiser bandanna, a holster and the murder weapon, among other items.

A DNA sample from the holster matched Cruz’s, and he acknowledged during police questioning the bag was his. The 9 mm pistol was reported stolen from one of his friends a year earlier, and prosecutors said a bullet found in Cruz’s bedroom had markings proving it had been cycled through the murder weapon.

His lawyers, Eric Lindell and Jim Conroy, tried to poke holes in the state’s arguments by saying the DNA evidence was mishandled by analysts, who didn’t know whether one sample came from the holster or the bandanna.

They also stressed that neither of the survivors picked Cruz’s picture out of a photo montage the day after the shootings.

Both, however, identified him as the shooter in court.

Cruz offered no alibi for the morning of the shootings, except to say that he was walking around Seattle.

Copyright ©2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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