Gary Quarles gunned down his girlfriend in a jealous rage, a Spokane County jury decided Friday.
After five hours of deliberations, jurors convicted Quarles of first-degree murder.
The 30-year-old Spokane man faces a mandatory life prison term under the state’s “Three Strikes, You’re Out” law at sentencing next month.
Deputy Prosecutor Dannette Allen portrayed Quarles as a violent man who twice before held a gun to Tina Langford’s head and threatened to kill her.
Early in the morning on Aug. 13, 1994, Quarles made good on that threat after accusing Langford, 29, of fooling around, Allen said.
Defense lawyers asked for an acquittal.
They argued there is no physical evidence linking Quarles to the murder scene, and the accounts of four “crack” cocaine-smoking witnesses aren’t credible.
“Their case crumbled - their witnesses fell apart,” Assistant Public Defender George Caplan told the jury in his closing argument.
Caplan and co-counsel Steve Heintz blamed shoddy detective work for failing to turn up the “real” killer.
“Nobody cares about this case. That’s why we don’t have any evidence,” Caplan said.
But Allen said there is ample evidence of premeditation based on witnesses’ accounts and Quarles’ own statements.
High on “crack” cocaine and armed with a .22-caliber revolver, Quarles pounded on the door to the Vinegar Flats house where Langford was staying, Allen said.
When she refused his 4:30 a.m. demand to come outside, he gunned her down through an open bedroom window.
Police found Quarles’ revolver in some weeds outside the house, and ballistics tests matched the gun to the two bullets that tore through Langford’s body, entering her back and right breast.
Quarles also made several incriminating statements following the shooting.
Later that morning, he allegedly told Darin Leeson, his drug-abusing pal: “You’ve got to get me out of here, I just shot her. I shot Tina for reals.”
As the pair left a room at the Red Top Motel on East Trent, police quickly moved in to make the arrest.
Quarles sobbed and grew limp while being escorted to a jail cell about three hours after the killing, Allen said.
“Oh Jesus, I killed my baby’s mother,” he said, according to a pair of police officers.
Langford, the mother of four children now in foster homes, tried several times to get off drugs. Relapses forced her into prostitution and other crimes, relatives said.