SEATTLE — A man convicted of slaughtering four members of a Kirkland family then trying to cover up the crime by burning down their house should be put to death, a jury ruled Wednesday.
The King County Superior Court jury decided on the death penalty Wednesday for Conner Schierman, 28, convicted last month of four counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of arson in the 2006 stabbing death of Olga Milkin, 28; her 5- and 3-year-old sons, Justin and Andrew; and Olga’s sister, Lyubov Botvina, a 24-year-old college student who lived at the house.
Olga Milkin’s husband and the father of the two boys is Washington National Guard Sgt. Leonid Milkin, who was serving in Iraq at the time.
The decision, read by Judge Gregory Canova, was met by silence in the courtroom. As Leonid Milkin left the room, he said: “I’m very relieved. Justice has been done.”
Aggravated first-degree murder is punishable only by death or by life in prison without possibility of release.
No clear motive ever emerged from the trial. Schierman had moved in across the street less than three weeks earlier, and deputy King County prosecutor Scott O’Toole said the attack might have been sexually driven. Olga Milkin was found naked and her sister was partially clothed, but the women’s bodies showed no sign of sexual assault.
Schierman claimed to have had an alcoholic blackout, only to wake up in the Milkins’ home covered in blood with no idea of what happened.
During closing arguments Monday in the trial’s penalty phase, Schierman fought tears as he apologized to the victims.
“I know you don’t want to hear my words,” he said. “You want your family back.”
He asked the jury for mercy, “If not for me, then for those who love me.”
Schierman did not acknowledge the killings.
O’Toole said after Schierman’s April 12 conviction that there was no evidence Schierman drank as much as he claimed that night. He said Schierman made a sexual comment about the women to his sister before the attack.
Defense attorney James Conroy argued that Schierman’s blackout was real, someone else carried out the killings, and Schierman set fire to the home because he thought no one would believe his story.
Surveillance video from a nearby gas station showed Schierman buying gasoline just before the blaze was reported.