Snohomish teen pleads guilty to murder

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

A Snohomish teen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday for his role in the Aug. 16 shooting death of a woman in a south Everett apartment complex.

Aaron Kwon Haug, 18, entered the plea during a brief hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court.

As part of an agreement reached with prosecutors, Haug admitted going to the home of Maria Berg, 22, intending to commit burglary. The crime ended in death when a companion shot her, according to court papers.

Haug previously had been charged with first-degree murder and faced a minimum 25 years in prison if convicted.

Deputy prosecutor John Stansell said he’ll seek 12 years in prison for Haug. The defendant could receive up to 20 years in prison under state sentencing guidelines.

If sentenced as proposed and with time off for good behavior, Haug could expect to serve about a decade behind bars, defense attorney Pete Mazzone said.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 13 before Judge Larry McKeeman.

A co-defendant, Brandon Teal Putnam, 19, of Clarkston in Eastern Washington, is scheduled to go on trial next week. He remains charged with first-degree murder.

Both Haug and Putnam are being held at the Snohomish County Jail in Everett. Police on Dec. 1 seized dozens of letters from Haug’s cell after being told by other inmates that Putnam had written threatening messages to his co-defendant, urging him to falsify any testimony he may give regarding Berg’s death.

Prosecutors allege Haug and Putnam showed up at Berg’s apartment wearing gloves and hooded sweat shirts and saying they planned to rob Berg’s boyfriend, Ebrima Jawara, 24.

When the pair allegedly pushed into the apartment, Jawara reportedly grabbed a .22-caliber pistol from under a couch cushion and exchanged gunfire with one of the intruders, according to court papers.

In all, 14 shots were fired, including a bullet that one of the intruders fired at close range into Berg’s neck, killing the well-liked grocery store worker.

Prosecutors believe the killing was the byproduct of a drug-related robbery.

Jawara, a native of Gambia in West Africa, is charged with being an alien in possession of a firearm. His trial is scheduled for mid-January.

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