Sedro-Woolley man found guilty of Beaver home arson, other charges

PORT ANGELES — An interview with authorities, voicemail messages and traces of DNA linking Marshall Jay Lewis to the torching of his ex-girlfriend’s Beaver-area home on New Year’s Day 2016 led a Clallam County jury to convict the Sedro-Woolley man of all charges against him, including first-degree arson, the presiding juror said Thursday.

“Just the evidence that was brought in front of us is what we based it on,” said Norman Vorhies, 56, of Sequim.

“We had some that was leaning the other way until we were able to re-listen to the evidence.”

As if saying no, an impassive Lewis, 38, slowly shook his head Tuesday afternoon while Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour read guilty verdicts.

Judgment was rendered on the Skagit County resident by a seven-woman, five-man jury that decided Lewis also was guilty of residential burglary, telephone harassment and cyberstalking, all with domestic violence enhancements.

Charges of disclosing intimate images and voyeurism were dismissed.

Lewis, a convicted sex offender, will be sentenced at 9 a.m. April 24 in Clallam County Superior Court.

Deputy Criminal Prosecuting Attorney Steven Johnson said Wednesday he will recommend a prison sentence of at least 5½ years based on Lewis’ criminal history, which includes a conviction of third-degree rape in Snohomish County in 2010.

The arson conviction is Lewis’ second strike according to Washington’s three-strikes law, under which he could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of a third serious felony.

The former girlfriend, who is the mother of two children, was in Florida at the time of the fire, which did not destroy the U.S. Highway 101 home but made it uninhabitable.

She said Lewis’ increasingly abusive behavior and her discovery that he is a convicted sex offender led to her breaking up with him in summer 2015 and to his escalating, unwanted contact with her, according to her testimony and court records.

Lewis has been incarcerated in the Clallam County jail since Jan. 22, 2016, as the facility’s longest serving inmate.

His bail remains at $125,000.

“I think it was the right verdict, absolutely,” Johnson said Wednesday after the jury left the courtroom.

Lewis, a former chef who briefly worked in La Push in 2015, was represented by Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender.

“There was a lot of physical and circumstantial evidence that was presented,” Gasnick said.

“Our position was that it didn’t amount to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Certainly, some of the undisputed behaviors [of Lewis] probably affected their perceptions of the disputed behaviors.”

There were 121 pieces of evidence submitted by Johnson on the exhibit list for the six-day trial that tracked Lewis’ movements from Sedro-Woolley to Beaver and linked him to the fire.

They included photos of the house that Johnson said indicated the fire was set in two locations, CD recordings of 9-1-1 calls, copies of text messages, photos of Lewis driving his car on and off state ferries and a photo of him leaving a ferry terminal rest room.

They included a Smirnoff vodka bottle and a red gas can at the home that had DNA that connected Lewis to the fire and Lewis’ interview by county Sheriff”s Detective Sgt. John Keegan and Detective Amy Bundy.

They included 111 pages of cell tower records that tracked Lewis’ movements and data that showed that he called the woman 39 times between 2:55 a.m. and 6:11 a.m. the day of the fire.

He also sent her harassing text messages.

He traveled across the Edmonds-Kingston ferry at about 6:20 a.m. New Year’s Day and drove to the woman’s house to confront her and the man he thought she was with, according to court records.

Finding no one there, he broke the glass on the front door, entered the house, and set fires downstairs and to her upstairs bedroom mattress, according to court records and trial testimony.

During the interrogation, Lewis said he was at the house at about 9 a.m. that day but said he did not set the fire, which was reported by a motorist at 9:14 a.m.

Vorhies said the jury watched a recording of the interrogation.

Lewis kept changing his account of where he was the morning of the fire, Vorhies said.

The DNA evidence “was the other part” that played a role in the jury’s decision, he added.

Vorhies said Lewis was “calm” during the trial.

“You can tell when they don’t like something, they write it down,” Vorhies said.

He said the jurors are paid $10 a day for their efforts.

They had to bring or buy their own lunches during the trial’s all-day proceedings except for Tuesday.

They ate submarine sandwiches in a jury room on the second floor of the courthouse before letting Coughenour know they had reached a verdict.

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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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