Nurse gets 2 years in prison for fatally shooting partner in Everett

Shawntea Grimes Hamilton was on the run for over a month last year after shooting Chris Wilson. Her lawyer argued it was in self-defense.

Everett

EVERETT — A travel nurse who shot and killed her partner in an Everett apartment last year was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison.

Claiming self-defense, Shawntea Grimes Hamilton, 30, entered what’s known as an Alford plea to second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Christopher Wilson — maintaining her innocence, but acknowledging there was enough evidence for a jury to convict her. It’s considered a conviction. She received credit for time served in jail since her arrest last July.

Hamilton, who prosecutors originally charged with second-degree murder, was set to go on trial this week. But instead she changed her plea.

The Snohomish County medical examiner was going to testify that Wilson, 31, had bled to death, according to court documents.

In court documents filed Friday, Hamilton’s defense attorney, Natalie Tarantino, argued her client was in a years-long abusive relationship with Wilson. Hamilton and Wilson had been dating since September 2019. According to court records, a month before their relationship started, Detroit police arrested Wilson for investigation of assaulting a different woman he had been dating.

In court documents, prosecutors filed a motion to exclude the testimony from a domestic violence expert, arguing that Hamilton potentially being at an extreme risk of domestic homicide was not a basis for self-defense.

“Defense is attempting to take a general theory of domestic violence and apply it in a self defense case without any diagnosis that would make it relevant,” deputy prosecutor Katherine Wetmore wrote.

In June 2020, police responded to the Days Inn in Lacey three times because Wilson was reportedly withholding Hamilton’s phone from her. Wilson continued to return to the hotel despite police telling him to leave.

In December 2021, Hamilton requested police remove Wilson from a Days Inn in Bellevue because she didn’t want him in her room. Later that month, police responded to the same hotel because Wilson refused to leave. The hotel had police serve a trespassing order on Wilson due to him causing “multiple disturbances,” court papers show.

In January 2023, Hamilton alleged Wilson was preventing her from leaving in her car in SeaTac, tapping a gun on her car window, according to court documents. When police arrived, Wilson was armed with a gun and blocking her car. Hamilton refused to provide a statement to police. Officers found Hamilton’s claim “not credible” because Wilson was “calm and polite,” Tarantino wrote.

Shawntea Grimes Hamilton (Photo provided by the Everett Police Department)

Shawntea Grimes Hamilton (Photo provided by the Everett Police Department)

The next day, Hamilton asked a security guard at a Seattle parking garage to escort her to her car as she was scared of Wilson, who was inside Hamilton’s car, armed with a gun, court documents said. Wilson told police their disagreement was “civil” in nature. Police did not arrest him.

Tarantino wrote her client cooperated “in the most minimal way” to have police remove Wilson from her hotel or her car. Hamilton did not tell police that Wilson reportedly had “strangled her, assaulted her, damaged her car and coerced sex acts by using his firearm to threaten her,” Tarantino wrote.

Hamilton was a licensed practical nurse who took short-term contracts in Washington. She encouraged Wilson to obtain his nursing assistant’s certification so he could find similar work, according to court records.

Around the time of the shooting, Hamilton texted Wilson that she was taking jobs outside of Washington and would not tell him where, court documents show. In June 2023, Hamilton was staying at a hotel booked in her sister’s name so Wilson would not know where she was, lawyers wrote.

All of this laid the groundwork for what would come that month, Tarantino argued.

On June 9, 2023, Hamilton and Wilson went to the Tulalip Resort Casino together. Around 11 p.m., security footage showed the couple arguing outside Wilson’s apartment complex in the 2600 block of Baker Avenue. Hamilton called Wilson’s mother, accusing him of taking her car on their way back from the casino earlier that night, court papers said.

Wilson allegedly took Hamilton’s purse and wallet. Wilson told Hamilton she had to come into his apartment to retrieve them. Tarantino wrote that while arguing, Wilson threw Hamilton into the wall and choked her. Hamilton shot him because she “feared for her life.”

Around 5:30 a.m., a neighbor woke up to the sound of a “loud thud” and “three pops” coming from Wilson’s apartment. Police tried to get into the apartment, but reportedly left when they couldn’t get in. Investigators found Wilson’s body in his bedroom later that morning after the neighbor noticed a bullet hole in her ceiling.

After the shooting, Hamilton fled. She got rid of the gun and her phone “in a panic,” her attorney wrote. She reportedly learned via Facebook that Wilson had died. Hamilton was on the run for over a month before U.S. Marshals arrested her on July 11 in Toledo, Ohio.

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

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