Man sentenced for Beaver arson: Woman whose home was burned tells of hearing apology

PORT ANGELES — A 40-year-old woman watched her former boyfriend apologize in Clallam County Superior Court last week.

He had written her a letter from jail earlier this year threatening violence to her and her family.

He penned the letter the night before he was sentenced for arson for trying to burn down her Beaver-area house on New Year’s Day, 2016.

As a result of his sentencing Wednesday, Marshall Jay Lewis, a 39-year-old Sedro-Woolley resident and former chef, will spend 19 years in prison for both crimes.

Judge Erik Rohrer gave Lewis 100 months in prison and 12 months of community custody Wednesday for harassment and for intimidating a former witness by sending the Clallam County woman the letter.

She had testified at Lewis’ trial earlier this year before he was found guilty of breaking into her home while she was gone and setting fire to her bed and closet.

She said she had broken up with him following her discovery that he was a convicted sex offender with a third-degree rape conviction.

He was sentenced April 2 to 126 months in prison and 18 months of community custody for first-degree arson, residential burglary, cyberstalking and telephone harassment.

He had been found guilty of the charges at trial.

During his five-hour drive, he had sent her dozens of threatening text messages and voice mails.

The letter he set the night before his sentencing for arson contained threats of physical violence toward the woman and her family.

“We know where you live,” he wrote, signing it, “John Doe Smith.”

“For lack of a better word, I’d say, yeah, I’m sorry, I am a piece of [expletive],” Lewis told judge Erik Rohrer on Wednesday.

“I want to apologize for everything I did,” he said, also blaming the prosecuting attorney’s office for what he said was a plea deal that was not accomplished.

“I accept whatever you give me.”

The most positive thing that Rohrer could say about Lewis is that Lewis “stepped up and entered a plea of guilty” in the harassment-intimidation case, Rohrer told him Wednesday.

“I take these two cases together, I just think this is a pattern, and it’s clearly a pattern of absolutely outrageous, mean, out-of-bounds behavior,” he said.

“The sheer scale of awfulness associated with it, it’s heinous, I don’t know how else to say it,” he said.

“It’s absolutely shockingly horrible to the court.”

Rohrer expressed skepticism over Lewis’ apology.

“I don’t put much stock in how people appear in court, because if I was in court, I’d be on my best behavior,” Rohrer said.

In an interview last week, the woman agreed.

“It was just kind of a basic empty apology,” she said.

She knew Lewis when both attended Forks High School, and they became re-acquainted as adults, according to court records.

He gained her trust and they became involved before he started demeaning her, grew threatening, and persisted in contacting her after she ended the relationship.

Then he committed the crimes that could keep him in jail until he is 57 years old.

Knowing Lewis will serve 18 years in jail gives her some comfort.

But she doesn’t see how she can put what he did behind her, she said.

“How it affects me is, just the way I live, I’m not trusting,” the woman said.

“Just the normal things, like a knock at the door, I don’t handle that like a normal person.

“It’s been very tough.”

Lewis, arrested in January 2016 for investigation of arson, had been the longest-serving inmate in the Clallam County jail.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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