Jurors on Thursday heard closing arguments in the trial of Erick Walker, who is charged with fatally shooting 15-year-old Molly Conley in Lake Stevens two years ago.
EVERETT — Jurors will begin deliberations Friday morning in the trial of the man accused of fatally shooting a 15-year-old Seattle girl as she walked along a Snohomish County road with several friends.
In a standing-room-only courtroom packed with family and friends of victim Molly Conley, and law-enforcement officers, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Ed Stemler recapped the state’s case against Erick Walker during closing arguments Thursday.
Walker, 28, was a “destructive force (that) indiscriminately blew through Lake Stevens and Marysville” and embarked on a three-hour shooting spree that began around 11 p.m. on June 1, 2013, he said.
The former Boeing employee indiscriminately fired from his car, striking Conley and later shooting into houses where lights and TVs were on, Stemler told jurors.
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Stemler acknowledged police were never able to find a crucial piece of evidence, the bullet that pierced Conley‘s neck, killing the Bishop Blanchet High School freshman. He told jurors to keep in mind the totality of the evidence presented during the trial, including testimony from 76 witnesses, as they deliberate.
Walker’s attorney, Mark Mestel, also asked jurors to closely examine the evidence presented during the nearly two-week trial. But, more importantly, look at what was not presented, referring to the missing bullet.
He reminded jurors that people are innocent until proven guilty and said prosecutors had not proved Walker’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
He also said that police assumed that Conley’s killing and the later drive-by shootings were connected. Once they had Walker in custody, they stopped investigating other potential suspects or scenarios, he said.
Conley and five girlfriends from Seattle had gone to Lake Stevens, where one girl’s parents had moved, to celebrate Conley’s birthday.
The girls were walking along a Lake Stevens road around 11 p.m. when they heard a loud bang. Friends saw Conley drop to her knees. She died a short time later.
None of Conley’s friends or the motorists who stopped to help got a good look at the shooter’s vehicle.
In court documents charging Walker with one count of first-degree murder, four counts of assault and five counts of drive-by shooting, prosecutors say five spent bullets were recovered from the scenes of the shootings. The bullets were tested at the State Patrol’s crime lab, where they were determined to be .30 carbine caliber bullets.
Ballistics tests showed three were fired from the same gun, and it appeared the other two came either from that weapon or another capable of using the same ammunition, according to prosecutors.
Early in the investigation, detectives checking firearms purchases at the Cabela’s sporting-goods store in Tulalip discovered that Walker had purchased a Ruger Blackhawk handgun capable of firing the same type of ammunition.
After Walker’s arrest, detectives searched his home and vehicle and recovered an M-1 carbine rifle capable of firing .30 carbine caliber bullets, two Blackhawk revolvers and a Cabela’s receipt indicating he had purchased one of the Blackhawks in March 2013.
Detectives also found .30 carbine caliber spent casings and live ammunition, and seized an M1 rifle from Walker’s black Pontiac sedan, according to the statement.
According to police and prosecutors, black paint chips and pieces of a broken headlight were recovered at one of the Marysville shooting sites where a witness saw the gunman’s car strike a parked Saturn and then drive away.
A check of a database maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed the recovered paint chips could have come from a black 2006 Pontiac G6 like the one Walker drove.
Mestel, however, said that the witness who saw the car hit the Saturn had not testified to witnessing the shooting. In addition, the witness described the hit-and-run car as a light-colored, older vehicle.
Before Walker’s arrest, detectives looked at his car and saw that it had “clear body and paint damage to the front passenger side quarter panel of the vehicle,” prosecutors said. Digital images of the car showed the damage was consistent with the damage to the other car in Marysville.
In addition, a passenger-side headlight on Walker’s car appeared to have been replaced in the damaged area.
Walker told police that the damage to his car had occurred in the Boeing parking lot, but he had not reported it to the company.
Prosecutors said Walker offered four different versions of his movements on the night of June 1, but ultimately said that he had been in Lake Stevens, looking for houses his realtor had shown him and may have seen six girls walking along the road.
Walker told police that no one else drove his car or handled his weapons and acknowledged that if police could tie a shooting to his gun, he would have been the one who had fired it.
“You need to look at the totality of the evidence in this case,” Stemler said. “You know it was his car, his gun, his bullets.”