EVERETT — After a trial that lasted three weeks, a jury found a man guilty Tuesday of stomping a woman to death in south Everett.
Attorneys gave closing arguments Monday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial of Jamel Alexander, 31. Less than 24 hours later, he was convicted of killing Shawna Brune in October 2019.
According to prosecutors, Alexander beat and stomped Brune, 29, of Everett, after paying her $100 for a sex act near a parking lot in the 11600 block of Highway 99. A man walking his dog found her body the next day.
Security footage from the night of the crime showed Alexander glancing down at red stains on his Vans Old Skool sneakers at a gas station convenience store 1½ miles north of the crime scene.
Detectives believe it was Brune’s blood, but by the time they caught up to him, Alexander had gotten rid of the shoes. He later told investigators it was from a spilled red energy drink.
A video recording of that interview was played for the jury.
The defendant did not take the witness stand.
The jury did not believe his story.
One juror left in tears after the verdict was announced around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Brian Simmons, who also served on the jury, said deliberations were methodical. The Snohomish man said jurors kept open minds throughout the process and took a close look at facts of the case. Asked what led to the swift verdict, he said video evidence and a timeline presented by the state left no doubt.
“Pictures don’t lie,” he said.
Alexander’s defense attorneys argued detectives handled the case unfairly because the defendant is Black.
“If Jamel Alexander looked more like them, would they have done more to try to exclude him?” defense attorney Kenneth Williams asked the courtroom in his closing argument Monday. “That’s what implicit bias is. It’s not just what you do. It’s also about what you do not do, and why don’t you do it?”
Williams argued investigators should have followed up on more leads before singling out Alexander as the suspect. In the defense’s view, this would have included submitting more evidence from the scene for DNA testing and preserving more security video where the killing happened.
Williams argued Brune’s life circumstances played a part in the investigation, too.
“If Shawna Brune was a daughter of some wealthy family out here in Snohomish County, do you think they would have done more to try to solve her case?” Williams asked the courtroom. “Do you think they would have investigated any of her prior drug dealers?”
Defense attorney Rachel Forde said the court and prosecutors prevented key evidence from being presented at trial, and that Alexander’s case wasn’t heard by a jury of his peers.
“Jamel Alexander is a Black man, and not one person on the jury was Black,” she said in an interview Tuesday after the verdict. “It’s just an absolute tragedy that, yet again, an innocent man was convicted.”
Deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson argued the evidence simply pointed to Alexander, not a “racial animus” against him.
“Some of the images you’ve seen, some of the descriptions of what was found on the body of Ms. Brune is likely going to be difficult to get out of your head,” the deputy prosecutor said. “That’s important though, because the mechanism of death, what caused her death and how that death occurred is vitally important to proving who did it.”
Alexander left the courtroom Tuesday in handcuffs, wearing a purple shirt, tie and black suit. He had previous violent convictions on his record out of California, including two counts of assault with a deadly weapon “causing possible great bodily harm” from 2005 and 2013. In charging papers from 2019, prosecutors noted the defendant could face life in prison without the possibility of release, if the murder is counted as his “third strike.”
Superior Court Judge George Appel scheduled a sentencing hearing for Friday.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterellen