By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Following an afternoon of closing arguments, the fate of 2 people accused in the deadly 2017 shooting of Edixon Velasquez is in the hands of the jury.
We were at the courthouse downtown this afternoon as jurors listened to the final pitches from the prosecution and defense lawyers for 23-year-old Anna Kasparova and 21-year-old Abel Linares-Montejo.
They are charged in the 25-year-old victim’s death outside his home in the 8100 block of 31st SW on September 19, 2017.
The three attorneys who presented closing arguments – prosecutor Wyman Yip, Kasparova defense lawyer Suzanne Pickering, and Linares-Montejo defense lawyer Kris Shaw – offered differing scenarios.
Yip contended that the defendants “stole the life” of the victim “in a coordinated and senseless attack.” He pointed to records of social-media messaging to contend that she and Linares-Montejo had conferred in the days an hours leading up to her early-evening visit to the house where Velasquez, who she had previously dated, lived. Yip said she lured him outside by asking for help parking her car even though a neighbor’s security video showed her parking it just fine herself before pulling out of the space and messaging him. Shortly after he came out to help,a man was shown pulling him out of the car; then he fell to the ground, shot. While the shooter – allegedly Linares – flees, Kasparova walks toward Velasquez, Yip continued, “walks right over his body, gets in her car, and drives away.” She subsequently, Yip said, asked her sister to post on social media that Kasparova had been robbed. Meantime, Yip said, a robbery-gone-wrong was allegedly the tale Linares-Montejo was telling too.
Next, Pickering presented her closing argument on Kasparova’s behalf. She alleged “the state has no credible evidence,” contending that none of the social-media messaging specifically included talk of a plot, and that, while Kasparova was at the scene, the shooting “had nothing to do” with her and in fact involved a plan that long predated hers and Linares-Montejo’s acquaintance. Pickering said Kasparova was not closely involved with either man but was still in a relationship with the father of her older child. Her client had no motive for robbery, she declared. And even if jurors decide Kasparova was responsible for getting Velasquez to leave his house, “that doesn’t mean she was part of the plan.” She hinted at possible involvement by other friends of the co-defendant.
Finally, Shaw offered a different scenario in defense of Linares-Montejo: There’s no proof he was there. His cell phone didn’t ping in Seattle that evening, Shaw said. Someone else might have been the shooter. And even if you think he was, Shaw told the jurors, Velasquez was shot in the shoulder and leg, not where you’d shoot someone if you were trying to kill him.
Yip then gave a rebuttal of the defense lawyers’ contentions, finishing shortly after 4 pm, so Judge Kristin Richardson told jurors it was up to them to decide their schedule for deliberations, starting Tuesday morning. She had read them their instructions before the lawyers’ closing presentations; that was an arduous process that included some corrections and hard-copy-printing. The day also began with news that one juror was out sick and so would be replaced with one of the two alternate jurors who had also sat through the proceedings.
What happens from here is up to the jury – they could take hours, or days. The defendants, both of whom have been in jail since their arrests two years ago, both are charged with first-degree murder, but the jury has the option of convicting one or both on lesser crimes including manslaughter – or finding them not guilty of anything at all.