King County prosecutors have rush-filed a second-degree murder charge against Lester P. Thompson Jr., a 37-year-old Seattle man with a long history of domestic violence who now faces a potential sentence of life in prison, accused of strangling to death the mother of two of his children just seven months after he was released from prison for assaulting her in 2013, court records show.

Destinie Gates-Jackson, 36, of Seattle, was found dead in the back seat of her Acura sedan early on April 22 when Kent police stopped the vehicle, which had been involved in a slow-speed collision with a train near South 212th Street and 77th Avenue South, according to police and prosecutors. The driver, later identified as Thompson, charged at an officer, who used a Taser on Thompson to take him into custody, the charges say.

Lester Purdell Thompson Jr. was released from Monroe Correctional Complex on September 23, 2019 and has since been charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend.  ( / Department of Corrections)
Lester Purdell Thompson Jr. was released from Monroe Correctional Complex on September 23, 2019 and has since been charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend. ( / Department of Corrections)

Arrested on a state Department of Corrections warrant for violating conditions of his community supervision and booked into the SCORE Jail in Des Moines, Thompson was transferred Tuesday to the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent on investigation of homicide, according to Kent police and jail records. On Tuesday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Catherine Schaffer signed a warrant ordering Thompson to be held without bail, court records show.

If convicted of second-degree murder domestic violence in Gates-Jackson’s death, Thompson faces his third strike under the state’s persistent offender law and would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release, charging documents say.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy also alleged in the charges that Thompson’s history of domestic violence against multiple victims is an aggravating factor in the case against him.

The most recent charges detail Thompson’s prior strike offenses:

In 2007, Thompson kicked down the door of his then-girlfriend’s house and chased her with a knife. When their 4-year-old son cried, Thompson swung the knife, slashing the boy’s hand and wrist. He was later convicted of second-degree assault domestic violence, third-degree assault of a child, and felony harassment. His second-degree assault conviction counted as his first strike.

Advertising

Six years later, in 2013, Thompson beat Gates-Jackson — then known as Destinie Gates — strangled her with her purse strap, dragged her from a moving car and forced her into the trunk of the vehicle. Court records show Thompson pleaded guilty to second-degree assault domestic violence, first-degree theft, intimidating a witness and unlawful imprisonment and was sentenced to eight years in prison. His second-degree assault conviction counted as his second strike. He was released from prison in September.

Kent police detectives also interviewed a woman who married Thompson in 2014 while he was behind bars, charging papers say. During a recent argument, she said Thompson shoved her, broke her phone when she tried to call 911, and forced her to the ground in a chokehold. He also broke the windows in her home, the charges say.

“The court must make certain his murder of Ms. Gates-Jackson is his final act of brutality in his rampage of domestic violence against the mothers of his children, his own young son, and his current partner,” McCoy wrote of Thompson in charging papers.

According to the charges:

After Thompson was arrested last week, a Kent police officer at the scene looked into the Acura and saw a woman lying face down along the back seat. She was not responsive when officers pulled her from the vehicle and they noticed she had significant bruising and swelling to her eyes, face and mouth, as well as small horizontal cuts on her neck. Attempts to revive her failed, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The woman was identified as Gates-Jackson, and the Acura was registered to her. Officers also learned a no-contact order was in place, barring Thompson from communicating or coming within 1,000 feet of her, the charges say.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Gates-Jackson had been strangled to death.

Advertising

Detectives interviewed witnesses and obtained cellphone data and video-surveillance footage to piece together the final hours of Gates-Jackson’s life and are still looking for footage to show her movements between 1:08 a.m. and the time of the train crash, 2:26 a.m. on April 22.

The investigation showed Gates-Jackson spent the evening of April 21 with her boyfriend, then went to meet Thompson around 9:30 p.m. The boyfriend last contacted her at 10:45 p.m. and made several unsuccessful attempts to reach her through the night.

Gates-Jackson and Thompson stopped for gas around 10:45 p.m. at a gas station in Maple Valley, then traveled to an area near the landfill, where Thompson was supposed to meet someone. He never showed for that meeting but recorded a 5-minute argument with Gates-Jackson on his cellphone before turning the phone off, the charges say.

At 1:07 a.m., Thompson’s phone was turned back on and showed he was in the area of Renton Avenue South and South Henderson Street in Seattle, which is near his residence, and he was the only one spotted on video-surveillance footage from the area.

Thompson’s phone records show he then traveled to Kent, where he was involved in the collision with the train and was subsequently arrested about a mile away, the charges say.