Mukilteo man to serve 35 years for murder

By Sara Bruestle | Aug 13, 2014

A Mukilteo man who refers to himself as a “stick-up kid” will spend more than 35 years in prison for stabbing a man to death in Everett.

Derek Donnelly, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a deadly weapon and tampering with a witness.

A judge sentenced him on July 31 to more than 40 years for both convictions, but allowed Donnelly to serve the sentences concurrently.

The body of 23-year-old Luis Verduzco was found on April 24, 2012, next to a garage on West Madison Street in south Everett. He had been stabbed several times.

“Luis had been lured to a drug deal and then attacked, fatally stabbed and pushed from a moving vehicle,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock wrote in court papers.

Donnelly, a methamphetamine addict with a reputation for robbing at knifepoint, stabbed Verduzco repeatedly and pushed him from a Dodge Durango in a drug rip-off.

A witness reported seeing a young man running down West Madison Street with his face covered in blood the day before Verduzco's body was discovered.

Donnelly planned to rob Verduzco with two others under the guise that they wanted to buy meth.

The trio reportedly picked up Verduzco and then drove around Everett for about an hour, smoking meth, Bladock wrote.

Prosecutors said Donnelly grabbed Verduzco from the backseat and stabbed him in the head, neck and arm with a knife. Verduzco struggled to break free, and attempted to jump from the moving vehicle, but another man, Martin Salazar, grabbed hold of him, court papers said.

Donnelly then pushed Verduzco from the vehicle. The driver, Lathana Neese, kept driving.

Verduzco was seen stumbling down the street before the Dodge Durango turned the corner and lost sight of him, Baldock wrote.

Prosecutors said Donnelly wrapped the knife he stabbed Verduzco with in tape and threw it away in a garbage can on 128th Street, court papers said.

The trio then drove toward Edmonds, but the Durango broke down, and they left the vehicle on I-5. Before ditching the vehicle, Donnelly reportedly tried to clean up some of the blood with Mountain Dew.

Donnelly’s defense attorney, Jesse Cantor, tried but couldn’t convince Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas to sentence Donnelly to just 27 years in prison.

Cantor said his client suffered from both mental and physical illnesses due to years of meth abuse.

He argued that, even with the lesser sentence, Donnelly would be 59 when he’s released from prison and that his body wouldn’t be able to tolerate drugs at that age.

“Derek Donnelly will be a senior citizen when he walks out of prison,” Cantor wrote. “By that time in the far off future, there should be no dispute that Mr. Donnelly will not be at the same recidivism risk level that he would be at as a man in his 30s.”

His accomplices in the Durango were also sentenced to prison, court papers said. Salazar was convicted of first-degree robbery and rendering criminal assistance last year. He is serving four years.

Neese pleaded guilty last year to first-degree robbery and first-degree kidnapping. She was sentenced to six years.

Donnelly wrote a letter of apology to Lucas before he was sentenced.

“I wish I could express how sorry I am for the atrocity I caused,” he wrote. “Louie was my friend, and I never intended this to happen.”

Donnelly could get another six months in prison if he is convicted of stabbing two women, ages 60 and 54, during a home invasion robbery in Seattle on Dec. 4, 2011.

King County prosecutors charged Donnelly with two counts of first-degree robbery in connection with the Seattle stabbing.

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