Burrell Michael Cushman is escorted into King County Superior Court on May 14. Aaron Kunkler/Kirkland Reporter

Time of death could be key in Kirkland murder trial

Opening statements in the trial of Burrell Michael Cushman proceeded today with the defense and prosecution outlining their cases before a 14-panel jury in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Opening statements in the trial of Burrell Michael Cushman proceeded today with the defense and prosecution outlining their cases before a 14-panel jury in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Cushman is accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend, Amy Hargrove, to death on Jan. 5, 2014 in her Kirkland apartment. Cushman is also charged with first-degree attempted arson and violating a no contact order.

The prosecuting attorney, Jeff Dernbach, said that according to the King County Medical Examiners Office autopsy, Hargrove died between 3 and 4 p.m. on Jan. 5.

This is damning evidence, he alleges, because in a police interview Cushman said he left the apartment at 4 p.m.

Cushman’s admission that he was at the house violated a restraining order Hargrove had filed against him in 2013 and he was arrested after the initial interview with Kirkland police, to which he willingly submitted.

Cushman’s defense attorney, John Hicks, argued that the report pegs the time of death at 6 p.m., well after Cushman left for his fathers house and later a friend’s house to spend the night.

It was unclear, based on opening arguments, which time was correct and the issue will likely be a lynch pin of the trial.

The kitchen was also found to be covered in cooking oil, and a burner was left on under a pan filled with oil, which Dernbach said was an attempted arson.

DNA was found under Hargrove’s fingernails which matched Cushman’s. However, Hicks said the test used created a genetic profile based on specific Y chromosomes, or male chromosomes, and alleged that it would also match the couples then 3-year-old son.

Janet Ford, Hargrove’s mother found her daughter on Jan. 6 after she failed to show up for her job at the Olive Garden. Hargrove lived in a mother-in-law apartment attached to Ford’s house.

When Ford went to check on her daughter the front door was unlocked, she said.

She tearfully told the court she found her daughter face-down on her bed and initially thought she was sleeping until noticing her daughter’s fingers were blue.

Hargrove’s sweatshirt was pulled up to around the middle of her chest, leading the prosecution to allege that she was strangled with it.

Ford said she had witnessed Cushman violently punch her daughter before, one time loud enough that she could hear it from her house, which shares a wall.

The prosecution argued that since there were no signs of sexual assault or forced entry the murder was likely done by someone Hargrove knew.

Hicks argued that since both the front and back door were unlocked, it could have been a burglary or sexual assault turned murder.

The jury is comprised of 11 women and three men.

The trial could continue until July 18.

More in News

Reporter file photo
Police investigate officer response to 911 call

The investigation comes after officers may have improperly responded to a call from Menchie’s.

King County Flood Control District approves 2019 Budget on Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of King County Flood Control District.
King County Flood Control District approves $93 million budget

The 2019 District Budget will maintain current flood protection services.

The Council recognized the AFIS program as it celebrates 30 years of assisting law enforcement throughout King County. Councilmembers, AFIS staff and King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht join AFIS regional manager, Carol Gillespie. Photo courtesy of King County.
King County Council recognizes Automated Fingerprint Information System

For three decades, AFIS has helped law enforcement solve thousands of cases.

Sarah Yount, former YES client, speaks at YES’s 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 2. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Youth Eastside Services celebrates 50 years

YES celebrates 50 years of providing youth and family behavioral health services.

Nude suspect blocks traffic, fights officers | Police blotter

The Kirkland police blotter for Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.

Sky Metalwala has been missing for seven years. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Police plead for help in search for missing boy

Sky has been missing since Nov. 6, 2011 and turned 9 years old on Sept. 2.

Protesters chant “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” at the intersection of Northeast 124th Street and 124th Avenue Northeast Thursday evening. Kailan Manandic, staff photo
Kirkland locals rally in national protest to protect Mueller

Protesters across the nation respond to former Attorney General Jeff Session’s resignation.

From L-R: Panelist Roderic Camp from Claremont University, William Beezley from University of Arizona, Linda, and Guillermo Sheridan from UNAM-Seattle touched on the subject of U.S.-Mexico relations on Nov. 1 at Northwest University. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.
Northwest University hosts public academic conference

NU partners with National Autonomous University of Mexico to discuss U.S.-Mexico relations

Most Read