Sides jockey in Lake Stevens case

Legal battle waged over past of possible prosecution witness



EVERETT — Snohomish County prosecutors don’t want to reveal the past of a Lake Stevens police officer who may testify against the man accused in the June drive-by killing of a 15-year-old girl.

Erick N. Walker, 27, is accused of firing handguns at cars, houses, and a group of teenage girls. One of those girls was Molly Conley, of Seattle, who died after getting shot while walking along a Lake Stevens road, The Everett Herald reported Saturday.

Prosecutors allege Walker is linked by forensics to some of the gunfire, and that the 15-year-old’s killing was part of a violent spree.

On Friday, prosecutors went to court to argue for a protective order temporarily keeping information about the police officer and potential witness under wraps.

Walker’s lawyer, longtime Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel, challenged the notion that prosecutors should dictate how he uses information potentially helpful to his client.

Prosecutors told Mestel they would share concerns about the credibility of a police witness in the case, but only if he first agreed to a court order restricting what he does with the information, Superior Court Judge Anita Farris was told.

The order would bar Mestel from sharing the information with others, including his client. It would remain in effect until a judge ruled otherwise.

Nobody in court on Friday brought up any officers’ names. Stemler told Farris the officer works for the Lake Stevens Police Department.

The judge told prosecutors to provide information about the unnamed Lake Stevens officer whose credibility may be impeached. She also temporarily granted the prosecutor’s disclosure restrictions and scheduled a hearing Thursday to revisit the matter.

“I don’t think it is fair to the defense, as well as the court, to rule on this in the blind,” the judge said.

The prosecution’s witness list names at least 10 Lake Stevens officers, including two whose behavior during a June 2011 arrest prompted close scrutiny for the department and a $100,000 settlement in a civil rights lawsuit, The Herald found.

Officers Steve Warbis and James Wellington were accused of illegally arresting a man who had argued with an off-duty Warbis about the man’s driving.

Records show Warbis also was investigated for a drunken brawl in Everett in 2012.

Wellington has faced even more trouble and remains on the force under a “last chance” employment agreement.

He’s been the focus of at least six internal investigations since 2009, according to Lake Stevens police records obtained earlier by the newspaper.