Erick Walker is on trial in the drive-by shooting of a Seattle teen in Lake Stevens nearly two years ago.
EVERETT — On the opening day of Erick Walker’s murder trial, jurors heard recordings of two harrowing 911 calls and testimony from three men who stopped to help a group of hysterical teenage girls in the moments after 15-year-old Molly Conley was shot in the neck on a Lake Stevens road nearly two years ago.
Walker indiscriminately fired from his vehicle, striking Conley shortly after 11 p.m. on June 1, 2013, and later shot into houses where lights and TVs were on, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Ed Stemler said during opening statements.
The bullet that killed Conley, a freshman at Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School, was never found, though police cleared brush and searched woods adjacent to the road with metal detectors and bucket trucks, Stemler said.
Defense attorney Mark Mestel told jurors Walker is “an innocent man” who was arrested as a result of assumptions made by police, foremost that Conley’s killing and the later drive-by shootings in Lake Stevens and Marysville were connected. Mestel questioned the scientific validity of a ballistic analysis that linked eight spent bullets to two Ruger Blackhawk revolvers later found by police in Walker’s bedroom.
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“This case is not going to be about whether shots were fired … This case is going to be about who did it,” Mestel said during his opening statement.
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 South Lake Stevens Drive around 11 p.m. when they heard a loud bang and her friends saw Conley drop to her knees.
Conley died moments later.
The jury of 10 women and five men heard two 911 calls placed by two of Conley’s friends, who reported Conley had been shot by a drive-by shooter. The girls were hysterical and screams were heard in the background as a dispatcher repeatedly asked for an address.
“Molly! Molly!” a female voice is heard screaming.
After telling the dispatcher their location, the caller said: “Somebody drove by and shot her … it’s dark, we have no idea … I don’t care who shot her, I just need to get her help … She’s out on the street, we were walking home.”
The second caller tells the dispatcher, “Oh my god, we don’t know what he looked like, that vehicle is gone. … Help us!”
Seconds later, the same girl said: “Oh my gosh, I think she’s dead.”
Dean Jenson, a land surveyor, was the first motorist to stop to help the girls. He testified that it was “pitch black” and he had to “plow through” blackberry bushes to reach Conley, who had rolled down a steep embankment next to the road.
“I felt her with my right hand, then I knew it was real,” Jenson said, testifying that he jumped over Conley, turned, and caught her in his arms.
Motorists Richard Reynolds, a garbage-truck driver, and Robert Diaz, a Boeing engineer, also pulled over.
Reynolds helped Jenson, and when he grabbed Conley’s bloody sweater, reality hit, he said.
“She was unresponsive and there was blood everywhere, unspeakable amounts of blood. Her eyes were wide open,” said Reynolds, who started CPR but stopped when he heard Conley choking.
Snohomish County sheriff’s Deputy James Kunard, who has military medical training, arrived at the scene and cut Conley’s sweatshirt, looking for a chest wound, he said. He found the wound to her neck and told Diaz to stick his finger in the wound to staunch the flow of blood.
Paramedics worked on Conley in an aid car, but she died at the scene, jurors were told.
Two of Conley’s friends testified about how the group spent the night before the shooting.
Cassandra “Cassie” Osborn and Haley Knull, both 17, said it was just before dark when the group decided to walk down to the lake — a trip that took them longer than expected.
They ate cake on the dock and smoked a small amount of marijuana, then started the walk back to the house where they were staying. They walked single-file along the edge of South Lake Stevens Drive, Conley the second from the front.
When a shot rang out, Osborn and Knull said they thought it was a firecracker.
“Once I saw her face, I just knew,” said Osborn, who was several feet behind Conley when she was shot from a passing car.
She said Conley turned to face her, then dropped to her knees.
“I could tell this was way more serious than I ever imagined. … She was looking at me, she looked like she was in so much pain,” said Osborn, who testified she then turned to flag cars down for help.
Knull, who broke down in tears at one point, said she first assumed the girls had been fired at from someone hiding in the bushes next to the road.
“Molly was bleeding and I immediately knew she’d been shot,” she said.
Susan Arksey, Conley’s mother, testified about receiving a call from a police officer, who told her to come to Lake Stevens.
“But he wouldn’t tell me why. I was really pushing him … and he told me she (Molly) got shot,” Arksey said.
“When we got to Lake Stevens, no one would tell me anything,” said Arksey, testifying that it was a clerk at a nearby convenience store who told her Conley was dead.
The trial continues Tuesday.