Skagit County man charged after alleged threats in letter from Clallam jail

Marshall Jay Lewis

Marshall Jay Lewis

PORT ANGELES — A Skagit County man awaiting sentencing for arson and burglary he committed against an ex-girlfriend was charged Thursday with intimidating a witness and felony harassment for allegedly trying to send her a threatening letter from the Clallam County jail.

Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour set $250,000 bail for Marshall Jay Lewis, 38, of Sedro-Woolley, raising his total bail to $375,000. Lewis had attended Forks High School with the woman he allegedly targeted.

Lewis’ arraignment is 9 a.m. May 4.

The letter Lewis allegedly wrote contains similar content and specific wording similar to voice mails and text messages he sent the woman before setting her unoccupied Beaver-area house on fire Jan. 1, 2016, according to the probable cause statement written by sheriff’s office Detective Amy Bundy.

“The letter is then signed with what appears to be the ‘SS’ symbol associated with white supremacists/neo-Nazi groups, followed by ‘Gypsy Jokers’ and ‘S.O.S,’ ” according to the statement.

According to the probable cause statement, “the letter says it is written from ‘John Doe.’ ”

The envelope indicated it was written by “John Doe Smith” with the jail’s address and is written to the woman using her first name.

The writer says he knows her schedule, threatens to sexually assault and kill her, lists family members by name and says she “will soon lose one or two people extremely close to you.”

Lewis was already incarcerated after a jury found him guilty April 3 of first-degree arson, residential burglary, cyberstalking and telephone harassment, all with domestic violence enhancements that can increase his sentence.

His April 24 sentencing hearing was rescheduled for May 8 after Lewis’ attorney, Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender, filed a motion for reconsideration of an April 18 ruling by Superior Court Judge Chris Melly.

Melly had denied Gasnick’s motion to dismiss.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steven Johnson recommended, based on Lewis’ criminal history, a sentence of 13 to 22 years in prison on the four counts in an April 19 sentencing memorandum.

The threatening letter that generated the additional charges against Lewis was intercepted April 24 by corrections deputies who were picking up jail mail.

“Lewis’ conduct in this case is deeply troubling and deserves the most significant standard range punishment available under the law,” Johnson said in the memo.

“His actions were violent, callous and vindictive toward [the woman].”

Lewis set fire to the house on New Year’s morning when the woman was not present.

A corrections deputy noticed the letter return address was John Doe Smith and that no one was incarcerated under that name at the jail, according to the probable cause statement.

It is against jail rules to put the wrong name in the return-address section of outgoing mail from the jail.

A sheriff’s office sergeant recognized Lewis’ handwriting after seeing it many times during Lewis’ incarceration of more than two years, authorities said.

Bundy read the letter out loud to the woman “and she told me she was terrified,” Bundy said in the probable cause statement.

“She confirmed the tone and the content of the letter was similar to previous threatening text messages she has received from Marshall Lewis,” Bundy said.

The text messages were presented at Lewis’ trial.

Lewis has prior convictions for third-degree rape, failure to register as a sex offender, four counts of violating a domestic-violence no-contact order, fourth-degree assault and hit-and-run, a conviction that dated to when he was 19.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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