2 teens were hired to kill woman near Everett, deputies say

A man allegedly paid them $2,400 to kill his ex-wife. But it was her sister who was shot to death.

Jerradon Phelps, 20, of Tacoma, during a court appearance in Everett on Monday. He is accused of being an assailant in a 2017 murder-for-hire plot. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

Jerradon Phelps, 20, of Tacoma, during a court appearance in Everett on Monday. He is accused of being an assailant in a 2017 murder-for-hire plot. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

EVERETT — Jerradon Phelps took a video of himself early Sept. 20, 2017, fanning out over $2,000 at a home in Spokane.

“(Expletives) a never guess what I did 4 this check,” he typed on his phone.

Just over four hours earlier, Alisha Canales-McGuire, 24, was shot to death inside the front door of a home in the 3100 block of York Road south of Everett. It takes about 4½ hours to drive from Everett to Spokane.

Prosecutors allege it was a case of mistaken identity. Phelps, then 19, had been hired to kill his cousin’s ex-wife, according to reports filed in court Monday by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. But it was the ex-wife’s sister, Canales-McGuire, who answered the door at 1:55 a.m.

Phelps and a Spokane girl, 17, were arrested for investigation of first-degree aggravated murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Kevin Lewis, 31, who was already behind bars for beating his wife, is accused of the same crimes. Lewis is the ex-husband of Canales-McGuire’s sister. They were married eight years and had three kids.

Months before the homicide, in June 2017, the woman reported Lewis told her he wanted full custody of the children and child support. He’d threatened that if he didn’t get those things, he would kill her, according to her statements in court papers. By late August 2017, she had been granted full custody of the kids. Instead of receiving child support, Lewis was ordered to pay $800 per month.

According to what Phelps’ reported to police this month, Lewis offered $2,400 to get his ex-wife “out of the way.”

In the past Lewis had left his wife with bruises and bloody injuries. He’s serving three years in prison for two convictions of second-degree assault against his ex-wife. At a sentencing in that domestic case, his ex-wife told a judge she believed the fatal shots were meant for her.

But she was in New York in September 2017. Her sister was babysitting. The former couple’s small children and another woman, who worked as a nanny, were asleep in the home at the time.

About 100 people spoke with deputies in the hours after the shooting. One of them was Lewis, who opened his door in a white tanktop at 5 a.m.

Sheriff’s detectives asked him if he knew where his ex-wife was.

“She should be home,” he reportedly said.

They told him she was out of town on business. According to detectives, he looked surprised.

“Really?” Lewis asked.

Detectives asked neighbors for security footage to help solve the crime in 2017. One video showed a man in a tanktop — Lewis, according to the court papers — getting into a car around 1:13 a.m. and returning at 1:37 a.m. Investigators believe Lewis was showing Phelps and the girl the duplex where his ex-wife lived.

Since the beginning of the investigation, Lewis “figured prominently as the person with the motive to kill,” according to detectives.

However, investigators’ leads went cold until summer 2018, when the Spokane girl told people at a party that she’d killed someone on York Road in Snohomish County, according to the court papers. Two people came forward to detectives with tips.

Kevin Lewis, 31, during a court appearance in Everett on Monday. He’s accused of hiring two teenagers in 2017 to kill his ex-wife. But the pair he hired instead killed her sister, Alisha Canales-McGuire. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

Kevin Lewis, 31, during a court appearance in Everett on Monday. He’s accused of hiring two teenagers in 2017 to kill his ex-wife. But the pair he hired instead killed her sister, Alisha Canales-McGuire. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

The girl reportedly claimed she and Phelps were offered $10,000 by a “baby daddy” to kill the woman, but they ended up being paid about $2,000.

According to one of the tips, the girl confided she knocked on the front door, and once the door opened, Phelps came around the corner firing. The girl reportedly said she took the gun and fired again to make sure the woman was dead.

Details about the trajectory of the bullets had never been released to the public.

“The mere fact that people from Spokane had information on a homicide in Everett was significant,” sheriff’s detective Tedd Betts wrote in a 22-page affidavit. “There had to be a link. That link turned out to be Jerradon Phelps.”

Phelps and Lewis are cousins. Court records show Phelps briefly lived in Spokane in 2017.

Cell tower records revealed Phelps and the girl drove from Eastern Washington to the Everett area hours before the killing. Phelps’ cell phone left Spokane around 8:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 2017. His phone used a cell tower a half-mile mile from the crime scene, within minutes of the shooting.

Over the next 15 months, Phelps’ phone never traveled west of the Cascade mountains again.

In March 2019, sheriff’s deputies were granted warrants to look at the suspects’ Google history.

Lewis had been searching for, “Everett shooting today,” and similar keywords for almost 24 hours straight, only taking a break to sleep.

Phelps started searching for news stories about the shooting at 6:26 a.m. Sept. 20, 2017, within about a half-hour of returning home to Spokane, according to the detectives’ reports.

U.S. Marshals arrested Phelps at his new home in Tacoma on Thursday. He admitted to carrying out the murder-for-hire in a recorded interview, according to court papers.

Phelps told detectives he’d haggled over the price of the hit: The first offer had been $1,500. He reportedly said the girl supplied the gun, and he’d given her $200 of the $2,400 payout.

Files on his phone suggested Phelps went on a “spending spree” after the shooting, buying clothes, shoes and a manicure for someone else, according to the court records.

An Everett District Court judge set bail at $5 million for Phelps on Monday.

Lewis appeared in court Monday, too, but his bail hearing was delayed until a lawyer could be appointed for him.

The Spokane girl was being held at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett.

Police reports out of New Mexico showed she’d been listed as a runaway multiple times. At the time of the killing, she was 16.

Canales-McGuire lived in Birdsview, in Skagit County. She had just been married in July 2017, in a ceremony on a beach at Deception Pass.

Bernie Cline, who identified himself as an uncle, said Monday the family was relieved to learn about the arrests, “even though it doesn’t bring her back.”

Ben Watanabe and Eric Stevick contributed to this report.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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