EVERETT, Wash. – A jury on Wednesday afternoon convicted John Reed of murdering a Snohomish County couple over a property dispute in 2016.
Reed had been on trial for weeks, charged with the brutal murders of his former Oso neighbors Patrick Shunn and Shunn's wife, Monique Patenaude.
The jury took less than 24 hours to convict him after beginning deliberations.
Reed was found guilty of murder in the first degree for the death of Shunn but only second-degree murder for killing his wife, Monique. Prosecutors say jurors told them they had a hard time believing Reed went to his old property with a plan to kill her – but believe once he murdered Monique, Patrick had to be next and laid in wait for him to return home.
Reed had an ongoing feud with the couple and threatened to shoot them after they cut brush next to his property in 2013, according to prosecutors. Deputies described Reed as an aggressive neighbor.
After the Oso landslide in 2014, Reed sold his property to the county under a flood-mitigation program. Several weeks before Patenaude was killed, she reported to authorities that Reed had been illegally squatting on that property, according to charging documents.
Reed entered court Wednesday without showing emotion. The Shunn and Patenaude families heard the verdict they’ve been waiting to hear for more than two years.
The jury concluded Reed did not pre-plan Patenaude’s murder; instead, jurors believe she was shot and killed in a short moment of time.
“They got hung up on whether the amount of time those three shots probably took, whether that was enough time for was premeditation,” said prosecutor Craig Matheson. “They indicated that was the vast majority of their deliberation time was talking about that particular fact.”
But the jury did find Reed guilty of premeditated murder for killing Shunn after he arrived to his home hours after his wife’s death.
“For the families, I mean this is finally put to bed to a certain extent,” said Matheson. “I mean their loved ones are still dead but there’s still closure, if you want to use that term. As far as the community goes, there’s an end to this story. The guy who shot these two people has been convicted by a jury of his peers. The proper punishment will be imposed and they can kind of get on with things. But for the families, this is never going to be over.”
The jury heard testimony for nearly three weeks -- from investigators, doctors, and even John Reed himself, who described the killings of Patrick and Monique as self-defense. But the jury didn’t buy it.
“If you discount his version of events, it’s a pretty clear case,” said Matheson. “And if you don’t believe what he had to say, the evidence is pretty clear.”
The victims' families left court without making any public statements.
Reed’s defense attorney says he still believes his client’s version of what happened in April 2016 and his claim that he killed the couple in self-defense.
“I’ve had a chance to know John for a year, I was hired last May,” said Phil Sayles. “I’ve had a chance to know his family. Thinking about it, I know him as a man, I know his family and it makes it really tough. I got to go back and tell his folks in a couple minutes and break the news to them. That’s the tough part.”
The victims' families could speak out during Reed’s sentencing, which is scheduled for early July.
It’s expected Reed could spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole.