Murder victim’s partner on trial

By Brian Kelly

Herald Writer

COUPEVILLE — A victim of life’s circumstances, or a girlfriend bent on revenge?

It’ll take weeks to sort out, but jurors Friday here got their first glimpse of Linda Miley during opening arguments in her first-degree murder trial.

Miley, 58, is accused of shooting and killing her boyfriend, Jack J. Pearson, 68, five times with a .38-caliber revolver in their Camano Island home the morning of Dec. 19, 1997.

Miley also is charged with first-degree theft; police say she took $19,500 from Pearson’s safe the morning of the murder. The money was later found hidden in the bottom of a makeup kit in a bedroom closet.

It was a partial glimpse for jurors. Miley sat with her head down, her face hidden mostly by her left hand, as Island County prosecutor Greg Banks told the seven men and eight women that the case centered on betrayal and revenge.

"She got revenge because she felt betrayed," Banks said as a picture of a smiling Pearson filled a projector screen in the Coupeville courtroom. "She thought Jack Pearson had promised to love her, support her, live with her for the rest of their natural lives. Jack Pearson broke that promise," he said.

Pearson broke up with Miley, Banks said, and told her to leave.

Picking up a plastic bag holding a black revolver, Banks told the jurors what he thought happened next.

"She shot him dead in his own home," Banks said as he held the gun in front of them.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor recalled the morning of the murder, how a hysterical Miley ran to a neighbor’s home, telling of a masked man in the Pearson home.

Banks described what police found, showing the jurors a photograph of an open safe in a laundry room, papers strewn about on a white tile floor and a .38-caliber revolver laying nearby. Banks then hinted to more physical evidence that will come up later in the trial, including a kitchen stool hit by a bullet and a bloody towel.

Banks also told jurors how Miley’s story changed a month later, when she claimed she shot him in self-defense.

Banks paused to talk about the couple’s relationship, how Miley had given Pearson an "I love you" card on their last day together. Banks displayed a blow-up of the card — with the cartoon character Ziggy standing in front of a field of wildflowers — on the projector screen.

It may have been cold-hearted, Banks said, but Pearson wrote back to her on the card’s envelope, saying their relationship was over. Pearson’s handwriting flashed on the screen: "For both your and my peace of mind, we should part now!! You need a job and a change of residence. Please act now. There is no need to drag your feet on this."

However, Banks said, Miley hit Pearson on the back of the head, and when Pearson went to take care of his injury, Miley went for her gun and shot him five times.

Tom Pacher, Miley’s attorney, didn’t talk about the events the day Pearson was murdered. He started his defense by holding a yellow legal pad in front of jurors, with one word, "Self," printed in large letters.

People are formed not only by their DNA and genes, he said, but also by their life experiences.

For the first time, Miley dropped her left hand and looked up, not at the jury, but at Pacher.

"What this really comes down to in this case is Linda Miley’s self. We’re not here to say Linda had a hard childhood, you should cut her a break," Pacher said. "This isn’t about blame. This isn’t about excuse making."

Pacher said he would try to tell jurors "what made Linda who she is." She was sexually abused by her father and her grandfather, as well as an abusive stepfather who once chased her into the woods shooting a gun over her head, Pacher said.

Miley married her stepbrother, Pacher said, in an act of defiance when she was 17. After they married, he became physically and emotionally abusive. Miley was finally able to escape from her home in Mississippi and move to Washington.

"Psychologically, she was a house of cards," Pacher said, adding that Miley had become so burdened by her life’s events that she became robotlike.

"What happened that day was not within Linda’s control," he said.

Four of Pearson’s eight adult children sat in the courtroom as the trial began. Pearson was the founder of J.J. Pearson Construction, a business that concentrated on public works contracts. He had been dating Miley for approximately six years.

If Miley is found guilty of both first-degree charges, she could face 32 years in prison.

You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian on I-5. Investigators were working to determine exactly what happened.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Police: Lynnwood man smoked marijuana before crashing into trooper

Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along southbound I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect the driver was impaired.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.