The State of WASHINGTON v. DANIEL THREADGILL - How Prosecutors and Detectives used conflicting stories and lies over factual evidence to convict an innocent man of first degree murder:
On August 31, 2010, around 14:00 hours, Des Moines police officers were dispatched to one of three units in a triplex apartment in Des Moines, King County, Washington. The landlord/owner of the triplex stated that beginning at 2350 hours on August 30, a dog was barking inside the middle unit. He was concerned for the residents safety.
After doing a DOL check on the vehicle parked in front of the middle unit, it was reported to be registered to Jennifer Walstrand. Walstrand was known to the Des Moines police and had an extensive history involving prostitution. While doing a welfare check, one of the officers looked through the window on the front door. He saw the prone body of a female inside. An officer entered the unit and confirmed the presence of a deceased female with apparent knife wounds on her back and legs. There were large amounts of blood around the body, including the wall behind her.
At the time of the murder in August 2010, SYNAE ARAYA McMILLON-COOPER lived in the same triplex as the victim, Jennifer Walstrand. McMillon-Cooper lived in the northern most unit, directly next door to Walstrand.
McMillon-Cooper was interviewed on August 31, 2010, and admitted to being involved with prostitution, with Walstrand. McMillon-Cooper also identified her and Walstrand's pimp, a man named Calvin Davis. Davis is well known to Des Moines police as a pimp who also uses the name Calvin Green. McMillon-Cooper denied any involvement or knowledge in the circumstances of Walstrand's death. She claimed she was with DANIEL THREADGILL throughout the day of August 30, 2010. McMillon-Cooper identified Threadgill as an event promoter/host for clubs. She stated that she began working with Threadgill as a club promoter in early August 2010, so that she would not have to prostitute anymore or have Davis as her pimp. Threadgill was unaware of her ever being involved with prostitution and her relationship with Davis.
Threadgill was interviewed on September 10, 2010. He denied any knowledge of the circumstances of Walstrand's death. He only knew of Walstrand as being McMillon-Cooper's neighbor and seeing her in passing, but never had any interaction with her. He further stated that he did spend the day with McMillon-Cooper and spent the night of August 30, 2010, at McMillon-Cooper's grandmother's home.
On January 7, 2011, Detective Mike Thomas of the Des Moines police department, King County, Washington received information that on the night of Walstrand's murder, McMillon-Cooper had appeared at the home of her stepmmother, Jocelyn Fuller, (who lives only a few minutes from where the homicide occurred), wearing bloody clothes. When McMillon-Cooper was asked by Fuller what happened, she would only say that ''it went bad'' that she and Walstrand had had a ''trick'' that went bad and she (McMillon-Cooper) had managed to get away. The jury in Threadgill's trial was not able to use this information during their deliberation because the prosecutors fought to keep it out of trial. Fuller was never brought to Threadgill's trial to testify to this information
On May 17, 2011, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound received information from a tipster hereinafter referred to as ''John'' regarding the murder of Jennifer Walstrand. John told Crime Stoppers that Walstrand and a female he identified as ''Aleaha'' both worked for ''Calvin'' as high-end call girls. ( McMillon-Cooper uses the name ''Araya'' as her first name.) "Aleaha'' was identified as a black female in her early twenties. According to ''John's'' information, "Aleaha'' was jealous of Walstrand. He also claimed that Threadgill and two other women were involved. These two women were finally identified as Fardosa Suldan Mohamed and Marian Kerow.
''John'' also advised that the police should contact one of the females who were present, referring to Mohamed. He stated that in all likelihood she could be convinced to talk and give up the information that she knows about the crime. In the following weeks Detective Thomas had numerous contacts with ''John'' , who had insisted on remaining anonymous. He was advised of possible places of employment and telephone numbers for Mohamed and Kerow.
Law enforcement officers contacted Mohamed at her place of employment. She spoke with detectives at her job site and, later at the Des Moines police department. After initially lying to detectives about having any knowledge or involvement in a homicide, Mohamed admitted to hearing McMillon-Cooper tell another that her pimp and his ''ho'' took her money and that ''bitch was going to get it." Shortly thereafter during the interview, Mohamed admitted that she witnessed the murder of Walstrand.
Mohamed then told detectives that on the night of August 30, 2010, the night of the homicide, she and Kerow, were contacted by McMillon-Cooper and were invited to her home to smoke ''weed'' and watch movies. Mohamed and Kerow arrived at McMillon-Cooper's home sometime after 11:00pm that night (she was unsure of the exact time) and initially stayed in the car to smoke cigarettes. Mohamed then said McMillon-Cooper approached their car and spoke to them for a short time, and then went back into her own home for a brief period. McMillon-Cooper then came out of her home and went next door to Walstrand's residence. Mohamed then claims she saw Threadgill come from the north end of the street, opposite the triplex, a few moments later and enter Walstrand's apartment where she then heard screams come from inside. Mohamed and Kerow then went to Walstrand's front door, which was open, and saw Threadgill stabbing her. Mohamed then says she walked from the apartment and down the street.
Mohamed then stated that Kerow followed her, eventually picking her up in her car. While driving home Threadgill called and asked where they were but Kerow hung up the phone. Mohamed then says she was contacted by McMillon-Cooper and Threadgill, who told her to say nothing to the police. (Telephone records obtained for MCMILLON-COOPER indicate that she did place two calls to Mohamed and Kerow the night of August 30-31 at 1:25 a.m. and the second at 1:57 a.m).
Mohamed then helps detectives contact Kerow, who after some pushing by Mohamed, speaks with investigators and was interviewed. She also claimed to witness Threadgill stab Walstrand. Kerows account of the death of Walstrand did not entirely match Mohamed's story, but was similar.
Both Mohamed and Kerow agreed to participate in wiretap surveillance of McMillon-Cooper and Threadgill.
Kerow (wearing an audio and video wire) met with Threadgill at his place of employment. Threadgill denied any involvement in the murder of Walstrand. As he did previously with detectives, he stated he was with McMillon-Cooper through the day and fell asleep at McMillon-Cooper's grandmother's home. (During trial prosecution told jurors not to listen to what Threadgill was saying, but the way he said it. Defense argued that it was proven Threadgill never encountered Walstrand which is why he had no emotional response to her death. A good question is why would Threadgill deny being involved in the murder to Kerow, who claims she stood there and watched him do it, and tried to stop him?)
Mohamed (wearing only an audio wire) met with McMillon-Cooper. McMillon-Cooper was asked if she felt bad about what happened. McMillon-Cooper replied '' I really don't. . . . I think about it. It was either me or the bitch.'' When Mohamed stated that ''Daniel did that shit like it was nothing. . . . Do you have nightmares about that, when she (Walstrand) was like 'Araya, Araya, please,?", McMillon-Cooper responded " No. I got my ass beat and I said 'Jennifer, please,' and nobody turned to help me. . . . I have no remorse.'' McMillon-Cooper stated further that '' Whatever she was telling him (referring to Calvin Davis) that I was at my house, he popped up at my house and beat my ass because she sat there and she could see my car and she called him. . . . If she would have minded her business. . . .''
On June 21, 2011, Detective Mike Thomas contacted McMillon-Cooper by phone. She denied appearing at Jocelyn Fuller's home, wearing bloody clothes. She also denied any knowledge of Mohamed and Kerow, or having contact with Mohamed and Kerow. Within minutes of Detective Thomas's contact with McMillon-Cooper, she attempted numerous times to contact both Mohamed and Kerow by phone. Receiving no answer, she texted Kerow the following: "Hey we all need to meet asap. If anyone ask u dont kno araya and i dnt kno (you). i will say ur real name k gotta meet dnt panic.''
Later that same day, McMillon-Cooper was arrested. She spoke with investigators. After initially lying to investigators about having any knowledge of the circumstances of the murder of Jennifer Walstrand, McMillon-Cooper eventually admitted that she was present at the scene, but denied direct involvement. Rather, she claimed that Walstrand was stabbed by Threadgill. McMillon-Cooper claimed that she and Threadgill went to her residence on the night in question to retrieve some clothes. While McMillon-Cooper was inside the apartment Threadgill called her from where he was sitting in her car and told her Walstrand was home. McMillon-Cooper said that she walked next door to Walstrand's apartment to speak to her. While speaking to her, Threadgill entered the apartment, knocked Walstrand to the floor and began stabbing her. McMillon-Cooper claimed that she told Threadgill to stop. McMillon-Cooper also admitted that Mohamed and Kerow were present. (This is obviously different than the stories given by Mohamed and Kerow).
Threadgill was arrested at his job that same day. Threadgill agreed to speak with investigators. Threadgill denied any involvement in the murder of Walstrand. He maintained, as he had before, that he was with McMillon-Cooper throughout the day and slept at her grandmother's home the night Walstrand was murdered. Threagill's story, unlike the other three women's, never changed.
Daniel Threadgill # 357673
Washington State Penitentiary
1313 N. 13th Avenue
Walla Walla, WASHINGTON 99362
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The Charge of premeditated murder has four elements that prosecutors must prove to charge someone with that specific crime.
3) Procurement of a weapon.
4) Stealth. Not only did the evidence at trial not support these elements, but neither did the testimony of the states witnesses. This section will show the many different instances during Threadgill's trial that the states evidence proved Threadgill was not Walstrand's killer. It will also show how the states witnesses not only contradicted themselves, but also the states story of how things happened the night Walstrand was murdered and why.
1) During the opening arguments the prosecutor laid out a story that they would prove beyond a reasonable doubt as to how and why Threadgill killed Walstrand. They even brought forth a witness that would testify to the motive of Threadgill's actions. The prosecution explained that Threadgill and Walstrand's pimp Calvin Davis had a nearly physical altercation in front of the triplex where McMillon-Cooper and Walstrand lived, following an assault that Davis committed against McMillon-Cooper. This motive was contradicted not only by McMillon-Cooper, but also Davis himself at trial. Davis testified that he never met or had any kind of interaction with Threadgill and therefore never would have been able to have an altercation with him. McMillon-Cooper said at the time of the mentioned assault by Davis, Threadgill was parked in the car around the corner from where the assault took place so he did not see or hear what happened between her and Davis. She even lied to Threadgill so that he would not know who Davis was or what he did to her. Prosecution had to change their story.
2) The prosecution made it a point to prove to the jury that Threadgill committed first degree murder. As explained before must be proven with all the elements of the crime as charged. 1) Premeditation. 2) Motive. 3) Procurement of a weapon. 4) Stealth.
McMillon-Cooper contradicted premeditation when she claimed that her and Threadgill only arrived at the triplex that night to retrieve clothes for her son at the last minute. She also claimed that Threadgill and her son were parked in her car behind the triplex so no one could see she was home, which would make it impossible for him to see whether or not Walstrand was home and therefore decide he needed or wanted to kill her.
None of the women testified to knowing or seeing Threadgill ever travel with a knife on the night of Walstrand’s murder or on any day previous. None of the women testified to seeing Threadgill retrieve a knife from somewhere or knowing where he would have gotten one from that night. There was never any evidence as to how Threadgill would have procured the weapon in this crime.
3) During the investigation of this crime, it was obvious that there was an intense struggle during Walstrand's murder. She had wounds consistent with attempting to defend herself, there was blood smeared on the wall behind her, and the blood on the floor around her was smeared and streaked around the floor. The autopsy of Walstrand's body was conducted on September 1, 2010. The report showed she suffered at least 63 stab wounds. There were scratches consistent with being from nails. There was a depression on the right front area of her head, immediately above her right eyebrow consistent with someone kicking or stomping on her. Also many of her teeth were missing and some were still connected by thin tissue. They were sure that who ever committed the crime would not have been able to leave the scene without leaving a trace of evidence, especially DNA, after such an intense struggle in such a small space.
Detectives were excited to learn that male DNA was found where Walstrand had been stabbed multiple times and were sure that this DNA was left by the person who killed her.
There was a DNA sample taken from Threadgill and his DNA DID NOT MATCH any of the many samples found at the scene of the crime. There were no fingerprint evidence linked to Threadgill. A shoe impression left in blood on the floor was not linked to Threadgill. There were no physical or factual evidence that linked Threadgill to the murder. To this day it is still a mystery as to who that DNA belongs to.
4) States witnesses McMillon-Cooper, Kerow, and Mohamed all testified that during the murder, they were yelling and screaming Threadgill's name as they were begging him to stop his actions. While the prosecution put forth these women for their word to be taken as truth, even after all the discrepancies between their stories, Threadgill's defense brought forth a witness that contradicted how the women said moments of that night happen.
Irene Evans, who lived in the house next to the triplex, testified to NOT hearing 3 grown women screaming Threadgill's name in the middle of the night, but says that she clearly heard two women’s voices arguing with each other, calling each other names, and arguing about money right before the murder occurred all the way from her own residence, through her open window. Evans contradicts McMillon-Cooper's account of having a small argument with Walstrand before she claims Threadgill burst through the door, and Kerow and Mohamed's account of them screaming for Threadgill to stop his actions at Walstrand's door.
5) The prosecutors made it a point multiple times to tell the jury these women had nothing to hide. If there were many less holes in their stories that would be seemingly true. But the day McMillon-Cooper was arrested, she was contacted by detective Thomas and asked multiple questions about Walstrand’s murder. Immediately following that phone call she contacted Kerow explaining how she would hide the identities of Kerow and Mohamed from law enforcement. If McMillon-Cooper had nothing to hide and believed they had nothing to hide, why would she ensure them she was keeping their names a secret?
6) McMillon-Cooper testified that after the murder, Threadgill, covered in bloody clothes, with a blood covered knife, drove her car with her and her son still inside to Bellevue where he lived at the time with his Aunt, Cyra Richardson. McMillon-Cooper said he went inside, still covered in blood, changed his clothes, washed the blood of himself, and came back to the car. Defense brought forth Richardson to combat McMillon-Cooper's claims. Richardson explained that because of recent robberies in the area, and her two very noisy, easily excited dogs, that she made it a habit of coming out of her room and checking the small condo anytime Threadgill would come home that late at night. (A detective who testified also explained that Ms. Richardson's dogs were loud and yappy, when they knocked on her door to search the residence). She also knew for a fact she was home that night because she kept precise notes/calendars of her schedule because of her line of work at Microsoft. Richardson testified that it would have been impossible for Threadgill to come into her home at such a late hour, covered in blood soaked clothes, with a blood covered knife, and her not have seen it for herself and notified the police. Richardson's home was also searched and swabbed for traces of any evidence to the crime. Detectives dug up her yard to look for the murder weapon. The bed Threadgill slept on was also checked for trace evidence. Nothing was found.
7) Throughout the months working with investigators, Kerow and Mohamed met with detectives on multiple occasions and during those meetings gave various inconsistent details of what happen the night of the murder. While at first denying any knowledge of the crime, Kerow then admitted to witnessing the whole thing, but never being physically involved. While questioning Mohamed, she admitted at one point Kerow physically attempted to stop Threadgill from stabbing Walstrand and was accidentally cut across her wrist with the murder weapon. Mohamed also explains that Kerow still has a scar on her wrist from the cut. When pushed on her story about this new information, Kerow again changes her original claims and admits that she was cut by the murder weapon, and shows the scar that it left. When asked why she did not divulge this information when she was asked many times before, she said she thought she would get in trouble.
*Neither Kerow's or Mohamed's DNA was tested against any samples at the scene of the crime. There is still unidentified female DNA.*
8) 3 months after the murder, On November 21, 2010 Threadgill's new girlfriend La'Shea Jones reaches out to McMillon-Cooper via Facebook (McMillon-Cooper went by the name ENVY COOPER on Facebook) to confront and clear the air about a recent post by McMillon-Cooper that Jones felt was to be directed at her because it was known that a big part of Threadgill's and McMillon-Cooper's bad falling out was because McMillon-Cooper felt that Threadgill chose another woman (This woman being Jones) over her to be with exclusively. McMillon-Cooper admits to this in her messages to Jones.
After numerous messages back and forth for days, on January 5, 2011 Jones realizes that no middle ground or peaceful resolution will be found with McMillon-Cooper and decides to end the conversation altogether.
3 months later, on April 22, 2011, McMillon-Cooper messages Jones again via Facebook. She tells Jones that she is aware her and Threadgill are now expecting a child together. She also threatens that she will be sending the police after Threadgill so that Jones will have to raise their child on her own. When Jones does not reply, McMillon-Cooper continues to harass and threaten Jones by telling her she better get rid of her and Threadgill's unborn child, and then threatens to take the life of Jones herself. After Jones demands that McMillon-Cooper stop contacting her, McMillon-Cooper again threatens Jones's life by telling her that she will be coming after her with her own new boyfriend.
Throughout this exchange between McMillon-Cooper and La'Shea Jones, McMillon-Cooper clearly proves that she had motive and a prior plan to blame Threadgill for Walstrand’s murder. McMillon-Cooper states that she is angry with Threadgill for not pursuing a romantic relationship with her instead of Jones. She then harasses and threatens the life of Jones and her unborn child that she is expecting with Threadgill. It should be noted that this exchange happened months after and lasted for months after the murder occurred. McMillon-Cooper testified in court that she watched Threadgill brutally murder someone in front of her and that she was terrified of him because of it. This exchange proves for that to be even harder to believe because not only did she say she was threatening to have police come for Threadgill out of pure spite of Jones's and Threadgill's relationship, but if she were really scared of Threadgill and knew or believed he was a vicious killer as she testified to in court, she would not have brazenly threatened the life of his current girlfriend and unborn child.
*The evidence of this exchange between Jones and McMillon-Cooper was never introduced to the jury at trial and therefore was not used to make their decision.
9) Mohamed and Kerow claimed throughout there testimony that after witnessing Threadgill's actions the night of the murder, they were terrified of him. On redirect by defense, a picture was presented to Mohamed in front of the jury that contradicted her claims of fear towards Threadgill. Four months after the murder, Threadgill threw an event for his birthday at a club in Seattle. Even though this specific night had been promoted to the public for over a month as being Threadgill's birthday party, Mohamed and Kerow both arrived. Mohamed posed with Threadgill with her arm around him for the events photographer along with some other members of the party and Kerow was photographed many times with different party goers. These obviously are not the actions of terrified young women. Mohamed claimed she did not know it was Threadgill's event even though she used to promote for Threadgill's entertainment group at this very same venue. And there were event flyers promoting Threadgill and his birthday party posted at the entrances of the club. If Mohamed actually had a reason to be scared of Threadgill, she and Kerow would have never attended his birthday party, or at the very least, left once they realized Threadgill was there.
Throughout Threadgill's trial there was never any physical or factual evidence that tied him to the scene of the crime. Through almost a year of detective work, investigations only further proved that Threadgill and Walstrand had never been in contact with each other verbally or even through other methods. The women who were brought forth to testify against him were women who he at one time were very good friends with. He and Kerow shared a intimate and sexual relationship, and because of the sister like bond between Kerow and Mohamed, he and Mohamed shared a brother and sister like relationship. Separately, Threadgill and McMillon-Cooper had a close friendship but also had numerous sexual encounters. Due to intense emotions and dwindling trust, Threadgill had bad falling outs with each of these women. And yet these three women are the only "evidence" the prosecution could find to incriminate Threadgill. And after their stories not matching up, stories ever changing, the realization that each woman lied about how close their friendships were with each other after Threadgill moved on, and the women being allowed to have their pre trial interviews transcripts on the bench with them while they testified in court so that they could refer back to their previous answers to important questions in front of the jury because they were unable to remember how they answered the same questions, prosecution still claimed these women had nothing to hide or reason to lie.
The possible sentence for a murder in the first degree charge is life without possibility of parole. McMillon-Cooper took a deal to testify against Threadgill in exchange for a 10 year sentence (which she could possibly serve 8 with good time). Threadgill was never offered a deal. Kerow and Mohamed were never charged. But not being charged with murder and spending the rest of your life in prison is a reason to hide who you know, how much time you spend with them, and why 3 women who claimed to be at the same place at the same time didn't even give the same reasons for how they ended up there in the first place. While detectives did assume a man committed this crime, it's also a fact that women have the capacity to kill.