Felicia Reese helped her accused killers get in her car when one of them fumbled with the keys.
She put on her seat belt and introduced herself to the two young men who kidnapped her at gunpoint from a downtown Spokane hotel parking lot.
Reese, 22, joked as they drove around the North Side, teasing the strangers when they said they were from California and laughing in disbelief when the baby-faced one in the passenger’s seat said he was 21.
She told them she was attending a church conference at the hotel and started preaching to them about turning their lives around.
She was singing in the back seat when 18-year-old Kevin Boot turned around and shot her in the head.
That’s how Jerry Boot, 17, described the night of Dec. 27, 1994, to the sheriff’s detectives who arrested him three days after the killing.
Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen decided Thursday that all of Jerry Boot’s confession to the detectives can be used at his trial, scheduled for March.
Details of the killing were made public during Thursday’s hearing.
Jerry Boot’s attorney, John Rodgers, offered no witnesses during the 90-minute hearing. Sitting next to him in a gray tweed suit, the youth hunched over the table, head bowed and eyes shut tight.
He is charged with first-degree aggravated murder along with his cousin, Kevin Boot, 18, whose trial is set for Feb. 5. A second hearing will be held for Kevin Boot today, to determine whether what he said after his arrest will be allowed as evidence.
Each defendant claims the other killed Reese, an upbeat Christian who sang in her church choir. Before her murder, she attended a church convention at the hotel along with fellow members of Harvest Christian Fellowship.
Her execution-style killing left the community reeling. Residents were shocked by the young suspects and the apparently random way they picked their victim, who was planning a summer wedding.
In court Thursday, sheriff’s Detective Rick Graben stein recalled Jerry Boot’s testimony after he was arrested.
The cousins’ plan that night, Jerry Boot said, was to steal a car so they could get to a small party being held at a friend’s house near the state line.
He admitted the .380-caliber handgun used in the murder belonged to him, but said Kevin Boot had been carrying it.
Jerry Boot said his cousin pointed it at Reese as she started to climb out of her blue Nissan at the Sheraton-Spokane Hotel.
Kevin Boot asked Reese if she had any money, according to his cousin. Jerry Boot remembered Reese saying no at first, but later offering them the cash in her purse. It totaled $43.
She also told her young killers she would have gladly given them a ride to the party if they had just asked, Jerry Boot said.
About a half-hour later, after driving Reese to Minnehaha Park in northeast Spokane, Kevin Boot asked his cousin if he wanted to shoot her.
According to his statement to Grabenstein, Jerry Boot said he didn’t.
“‘But then Kevin counted one, two, three and turned and pointed the gun at Ms. Reese and shot her in the face,”’ Grabenstein recalled Jerry Boot as saying. “He said he stopped the car and looked back. Felicia Reese’s head had fallen back on the seat.”
Jerry Boot told Grabenstein his cousin shot Reese three more times. Then they drove south on Havana, but stopped because one of the rear tires had gone flat.
Kevin Boot pulled Reese’s body out of the car and dumped it over a guard rail, Grabenstein was told. Then he pushed it down an embankment toward the Spokane River.
The cousins ran away, winding up at their grandparents’ house, where they washed their clothes and wiped blood off their shoes.
They were arrested a few days later and booked into the Spokane County Jail, where they’ve been held with bail set at $1 million.
Unlike his cousin, Jerry Boot has had few prior run-ins with Spokane police. Shortly before the murder, he moved to Spokane from Seattle and enrolled at Jantsch High School.
Kevin Boot has been convicted 18 times since 1990 for crimes ranging from vehicle prowling to hitting someone in the face with a shovel.
Five of his convictions are for assault.
When he was 16, he broke into a North Side home carrying a 16-gauge shotgun and robbed the owner. He’s waved guns and knives at other teenagers and smashed windows out of cars.
The fact that he spent little time behind bars before now sparked public outrage after Reese’s murder.
Her fiance, Ken Whitehall, started lobbying state legislators to pass a bill that would automatically try all juveniles as adults if they are charged with committing violent crimes with guns.
“If I can help change the system, her death won’t be in vain,” Whitehall said last year.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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