February 16, 1996 in Nation/World

Detectives Now Say Both Cousins Shot Reese Jerry Boot Changes Story After Failing Lie-Detector Test

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Teenage cousins Kevin and Jerry Boot took turns shooting Felicia Reese in the face at close range, Spokane County sheriff’s detectives revealed Thursday.

Convinced Kevin Boot was the only gunman, prosecutors were poised to strike a deal last week with his younger cousin in exchange for his testimony.

But Jerry Boot, 17, wasn’t called as a witness in 18-year-old Kevin Boot’s murder trial.

The reason: Jerry Boot failed an 11th-hour lie-detector test, then changed his story for the first time since his arrest on Dec. 30, 1994, detectives said.

He said Kevin Boot shot Reese twice and passed him the .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun. Jerry Boot said he immediately fired two more shots, hitting the victim once more in the face, according to detectives.

Until now, both cousins repeatedly have blamed each other for the shooting. They both are charged with aggravated first-degree murder.

Kevin Boot’s murder trial in Superior Court started Monday.

Without hinting to jurors about the latest development, prosecutors rested their case Thursday afternoon.

Prosecutor Jim Sweetser, however, said later he plans to introduce the theory to jurors in closing arguments Saturday.

“If you recall, I told the jury in my opening statements that (the Boots) acted together; they acted in concert,” Sweetser said. “They both encouraged each other.”

Kevin Boot’s attorney, Richard Fasy, blamed Jerry Boot for the killing.

Throughout the trial, Fasy has maintained that Kevin Boot was sitting in the driver’s seat of Reese’s car when she was killed, making it “terribly awkward” for him to shoot her. Reese was seated behind the driver.

However, Jerry Boot’s fingerprints were found on the driver’s inside window, and detectives said they believe Kevin Boot was the passenger. Their theory:

While Jerry Boot drove near Minnehaha Park, Kevin Boot counted to three, turned in his seat and fired two shots at Reese, hitting her twice in the right cheek. Jerry Boot stopped the car.

Kevin Boot passed the gun to his cousin, who fired off two more shots as Reese’s body slumped to the side.

One of the bullets hit her left cheek. The other went through the back seat and lodged in the right rear tire, flattening it.

Jerry Boot drove to Upriver Drive, where he and Kevin lugged Reese’s body out of the car and dumped it over a guardrail.

They continued driving about three-quarters of a mile to Buckeye, where they abandoned the car and walked to Kevin Boot’s grandparents’ house.

The statements Jerry Boot made during his polygraph test last week “squashed any chance of a deal,” said one detective, who did not want his name used.

“The deal hinged on him not being the shooter and passing the lie detector test,” the detective said. “He flunked it miserably.”

While such tests are generally not admissable at trial, detectives said it convinced them Kevin and Jerry Boot are equally to blame for Reese’s death.

Prosecutors were going to offer Jerry Boot a plea bargain that reduced the charge from aggravated murder to first-degree murder, sparing him mandatory life imprisonment.

Jerry Boot’s trial, scheduled to start next month, has been postponed while he appeals a state law that requires he be automatically tried as an adult.

That appeal will be argued before the state Supreme Court on March 28.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case against Kevin Boot on Thursday with testimony from a forensic pathologist who performed Reese’s autopsy.

Dr. George Lindholm said any one of the three gunshot wounds could have killed her. One of the bullets lodged in her brain, he said.

A Washington State Patrol forensic scientist who examined blood stains in Reese’s car said she was less than 18 inches from the gun when she was shot. Michael Grubb couldn’t say, however, which side of the car the bullets came from.

“They came from the front seat area,” Grubb said. “I can’t say whether the passenger or the driver fired them.”

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: COMING UP Arguments in the trial of Kevin Boot for the murder of Felicia Reese are expected to conclude by this weekend. Events in the courtroom are expected to unfold as follows: Today - The defense will call several witnesses this morning; jury instructions will be read in the afternoon. Saturday - Both sides will give closing arguments, and the jury will begin deliberations.

This sidebar appeared with the story: COMING UP Arguments in the trial of Kevin Boot for the murder of Felicia Reese are expected to conclude by this weekend. Events in the courtroom are expected to unfold as follows: Today - The defense will call several witnesses this morning; jury instructions will be read in the afternoon. Saturday - Both sides will give closing arguments, and the jury will begin deliberations.

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