After spending more than a year in custody, 55-year-old David Morgan of Lynnwood is about to have his day in court. Prosecutors say he bludgeoned his ex-wife Brenda Welch, doused her with gasoline and set his Lynnwood home on fire to cover up the crime.
Morgan is facing charges of first degree arson, assault and attempted murder. He will appear before Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Wilson on Monday as jury selection begins for a trial that, according to Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Fay Doll, could “last into the following week.”
It all began at approximately 7:10 pm on the evening of Nov. 16, 2014, when the Lynnwood Fire Department responded to reports of a house fire at Morgan’s west Lynnwood home in the 6200 block of 193rd Street Southwest.
They soon found it was anything but a routine fire call.
According to charging documents, first responders found the house “fully engulfed in flames” and encountered Morgan “stumbling from the residence holding a garage door opener.” The garage door slid open to reveal a woman, later identified as Morgan’s ex-wife Brenda Welch, “lying in a pool of blood and unresponsive on the ground.”
According to reports, she was “bleeding extensively from lacerations on her face and head,” her “face was covered in blood,” she smelled “strongly of gasoline” and had “second degree burns on various parts of her body.”
Welch was rushed to Harborview Hospital, where she was found to have multiple facial fractures, complicated traumatic brain injuries and burns more than 20 percent of her body. She remained unconscious for several weeks during which she underwent multiple surgeries, including opening her skull to relieve pressure caused by bleeding and swelling.
She regained consciousness in early December, and was released on December 30 to convalesce at home.
Morgan was taken from the scene to Swedish-Edmonds Hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.
According to court papers, while there he made several conflicting statements to investigators about the events of that evening, including that he was hit on the head by an intruder who set his home on fire and presumably assaulted his ex-wife. However, doctors examining him could find no head injuries or other evidence to corroborate this or his other claims.
Welch had come to Morgan’s home earlier that evening to pick up their 7-year-old child per the shared custody provisions of the couple’s 2013 divorce decree, court documents say. However, the child was not there because earlier that day Morgan had taken the child to his mother’s Lynnwood home.
Welch and Morgan had a child together in June 2007, six months after they were married on Dec. 19, 2006 in Hawaii. Morgan worked as an electrical inspector at Boeing while Welch worked as a house cleaner and nanny.
Welch filed for divorce in June 2013, citing that “verbal abuse from David is unrelenting and the living situation is uncomfortable, to say the least.” Welch said that Morgan “yelled at me constantly” and “made efforts daily to cut my self-esteem down to nothing. He frequently tells me that I am ‘worthless.’”
Under financial terms related to the divorce, Morgan was ordered to pay Welch $200 per month since he was on work-related medical leave in the late summer and early fall of 2014. When he returned to work full time, that obligation would increase to $1,500 a month, charging documents say.
In addition, Morgan was ordered to pay Welch $37,500 from his Boeing-based defined contribution plan and 50 percent of his Boeing Company Retirement Plan. The 50 percent payment would not have to be made if Welch died before the payout was made, the documents say.
In December 2014 prosecutors charged Morgan with the premeditated attempted murder of Welch to avoid paying her more than $50,000 in child support and other payments. They further charged that Morgan set fire to his own home to cover up his attack on Welch when she came to pick up their daughter. Maintaining his innocence, Morgan pleaded not guilty to all charges.
According to the prosecutor’s office jury selection will begin on Monday, and testimony will likely start on Tuesday. Welch is expected to testify.
–By Larry Vogel