EVERETT — A sex worker must serve 14 years in prison for shooting a north Everett man twice in the skull and leaving him for dead in a pool of his own blood.
The man survived three days with two .380-caliber bullets in his head at his north Everett home in October 2017, until his employer asked police to check on him.
Meanwhile, the shooter Marissa Wallen, 24, of Concrete, went on a $12,000 spending spree.
In a phone call over the meeting app Zoom, the man told Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent on Wednesday that it would have been much easier to have given up.
“I should’ve died,” he said at Wallen’s sentencing. “This hearing should be about my death. It shouldn’t be about the fact that I’m alive, in pain for the rest of my life.”
Judge Okrent told Wallen she had committed a “cold, calculated act.”
Wallen and her client gave starkly different accounts of what happened on the night of Oct. 21, 2017.
The pair met sometime in the preceding weeks through a sugar daddy personal ad, on a website where her profile name was, “That one short girl.” She looked to be 90 pounds, according to the man. He was much larger than her. The two weren’t in a romantic relationship, and she was on her guard because she knew he kept ropes, straps and other sexual items hidden under his bed, according to her defense. Other clients had hurt her in the past.
“She did not bring a gun to a date,” defense attorney Tiffany Mecca said Wednesday. “She brought a gun to protect herself if she needed it.”
Home security footage showed Wallen at the Everett home at least five times in October 2017. The last time, they went to a McDonald’s, then headed upstairs around 9:30 p.m. She ran out a half-hour later.
According to the man’s account, she told him she wanted to give him a back massage. Naked and face-down on his bed, he heard a loud bang and realized she shot him, he told Everett police. She demanded money, and he told her he couldn’t give her any because she shot him.
“She wanted money?” he said Wednesday. “She could’ve asked for it.”
He screamed at her. She threatened to shoot him again, then did, according to the man.
Court records show Wallen gave several versions of those moments, with varying levels of detail. She said they were engaged in a sex act, and she didn’t know how to say she wanted him to stop. Almost a year later in an interview with a forensic psychologist, she said she was in shock and lied to police about certain things, according to court records. Wallen said she’d seen a text on the man’s phone from another woman saying she was coming over, and that upset her enough to make her leave. He’d already paid. According to Wallen, he flipped out on her, pinned her down and choked her. She grabbed the gun and fired twice, because he didn’t fall down the first time.
Wallen claimed she fed his cat its special expensive cat food, then ran off to see her boyfriend. She admitted to taking the man’s wallet. She looked inside and saw a couple hundred dollars.
“I went home and started using his credit cards like a moron,” she said, in court papers filed by the defense. “I went on a spending spree after. I bought a bunch of stuff, I bought my son a bunch of stuff, even though I had money, I had plenty of money.”
Her defense attorneys, Mecca and Jon Scott, argued Wallen endured many childhood traumas leaving her “more susceptible to misperception of threat and dissociative, hypervigilant, impulsive reactions than someone who did not endure years of abuse.”
“To Marissa, a perceived threat is a real threat,” the defense argued. “Marissa shot … a client who hired her to perform sexual acts, because she believed he was going to force her to do acts which she did not consent to and hurt her.”
The defense filed a 115-page memorandum documenting Wallen’s history of being neglected and abused as a child, along with mental health reports, domestic violence court records and letters of support from family members and a former teacher.
The records show she’d been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at age 11. Her mom dated a Level II sex offender when Wallen was a child, and in 2006, the mother reported him for sexually abusing two girls, including Wallen. He was sentenced to more than 8 years in prison.
After his release, Wallen’s mother welcomed the stepfather back into the home, when Wallen was still a senior at Concrete High School, according to the defense. Wallen was devastated. Meanwhile, she didn’t have enough credits to graduate. She dropped out, and as soon as she turned 18, she started working at a Seattle strip club. She became a sex worker.
She reported a boyfriend who was more than twice her age abused her in May 2017. Officers documented she had a black eye and marks on her neck as if she’d been choked. The charges were later dismissed.
“Marissa moved from one abusive man to the next,” the defense attorneys wrote. “In October of 2017, Marissa’s life was a painful medley of drugs, sex work, abuse, and helplessness. Her life progressed downwards with each additional trauma.”
Meanwhile, family and friends told police the man was fairly reclusive, but he’d been seeing escorts in Seattle and going to a strip club often. His employer noticed he hadn’t logged in for work, and asked Everett police to go to his home on Oct. 24, 2017. An officer found him sitting against a wall in the master bedroom, with dried blood on his scalp. He was awake but not responsive. A CT scan later showed two bullets inside of his head.
There were no signs of a break-in, and no evidence of anyone else entering the home that day.
Over the next 24 hours, Wallen forwarded $1,800 in eight payments to her boyfriend’s account, charging papers say. She continued to use the cards for a total of 82 transactions for $10,062 in purchases, according to the charges. Police arrested Wallen in early November 2017, as she pulled into her boyfriend’s driveway in Mount Vernon.
“These are the actions of someone who was intending to rob an individual, and cared not what happened to him,” deputy prosecutor Katherine Wetmore said Wednesday.
Search warrants served on her car and the Mount Vernon home turned up an unloaded .380-caliber pistol, the wounded man’s driver’s license and six of his credit cards.
One count of robbery was dropped in a plea deal reached in August.
Under state guidelines, Wallen faced 12¾ to 15¼ years in prison for first-degree assault with a firearm enhancement. Judge Okrent gave her 14 years, at the midpoint of those two numbers.
A restitution hearing has been set for next month.
“I had to spend unthinkable amounts of money to save my life, and then I lost my job,” the man said Wednesday. “Recovering has been extremely painful. I wake up every day in pain.”
At the time of the shooting, Wallen had a son who was less than a year old.
Wallen addressed the courtroom Wednesday. She said it didn’t matter if the stories differed. What mattered, she said, was that she didn’t call for help.
“I left that man,” she said, “and I’m very grateful and glad that he’s alive, no thanks to me.”
She said the crime will haunt her for the rest of my life, and she knows it will haunt him, too.
“None of this had to happen,” she said. “For that I’m sorry.”
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.