The second trial for a Lynnwood man accused of trying to kill his ex-wife and setting his house on fire with her inside nearly a year and a half ago is now underway.
The first trial in late February ended early after a mistrial was declared following testimony by a fire investigator revealed that his opinion was that the fire was caused by arson, rather than stating arson could not be ruled out. Defense attorney Donald Wackerman argued the statement was a violation of the discovery order as the prosecution had not provided the defense with that opinion previously, and Judge Joseph Wilson agreed.
Jury selection for the second trial finished Wednesday morning, followed by opening arguments. Opening arguments were mostly unchanged compared to the first trial.
Prosecutors accuse defendant David Morgan of beating his ex-wife Brenda Welch, dousing her in gasoline and setting his house on fire, alleging he did it to avoid paying her $1,500 per month in child support in addition to funds she was owed following their divorce.
Welch survived the fire, but was badly hurt and burned.
“She had skull fractures. She had blood coming from her right ear, which is a sign of skull fracture. She had burns to 20 percent of her body,” deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said. “She was burned, she was beaten, she was bloody.”
The defense agreed that what happened on Nov. 16, 2014 was tragic, but said it wasn’t Morgan’s fault.
Defense attorney Sarah Silbovitz explained what happened when firefighters first saw Morgan in front of the house.
“He pointed at the garage, said something that sounded like ‘garage’ and handed over the garage door opener which was in his hand,” Silbovitz said. “That does not sound like the actions of a guilty man, of a man who is trying to delay the recovery of his ex-wife.”
The trial is expected to last about three weeks. Welch is expected to testify as early as Friday or sometime next week.
–Story and photos by Natalie Covate