Former Newcastle resident Song Wang was found guilty of robbing and killing a Bellevue woman in March 2015 before setting her apartment on fire.
A jury found Wang guilty of felony first degree murder during first degree robbery using a deadly weapon and arson on Dec. 15. They did not find him guilty of premeditated murder.
The body of sex worker Kittaporn Saosawatsri was discovered inside her Avalon Meydenbauer apartment on March 31, 2015 by firefighters. A small fire had been set inside of her bedroom closet. The victim had been killed by one of two stab wounds to her chest and was later stabbed 15 times in the back and “sawing marks” on her neck.
The murder weapon was never located.
Saosawatsri had posted an advertisement for sexual services two hours before her death. Cell phone records show that she and Wang had texted and he was caught on multiple cameras entering her apartment complex an hour before her body was discovered.
Prosecutors theorized that Wang had wanted to rob Saosawatsri, but killed her when she wouldn’t reveal where she hid her valuables and set a fire to cover up the murder.
Testimony revealed that Wang was in more than $25,000 of debt. He had also visited a prostitute earlier that day, but left suddenly after seeing a second person in the house.
“The efforts to keep this house of cards up were collapsing. He had lost everything and everyone,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Larson. “[The murder] grew from the darkness of the defendant’s mind at that time.”
Wang was caught on security cameras walking in the Avalon Meydenbauer’s parking lot with a bag — though he arrived empty-handed — just before the complex’s fire alarms went off. Within minutes, he began calling Eastside pawn shops and was later witnessed in Portland trying to sell a purse and other items belonging to the victim.
He later made admissions of guilt to two friends before and after his arrest on April 6, 2015.
The defense argued that it was impossible for Wang to have committed the murder and arson. Attorney Jesse Dubow likened the state’s timeline of events and evidence to “a square peg in a round hole.”
“The state’s case, if you look from a thousand feet away, is superficially strong,” he told the jury during closing arguments on Dec. 14.
Dubow contended that testimony given by firefighter Sean Nichols proved that Wang could not have set the fire, descended five flights of stairs and exited the building in time to have been caught on a parking lot security cameras at 9:00 p.m. Nichols had testified that it would probably have taken one to four minutes for the fire to have set off the Avalon’s fire alarms, which went off at 9:04 p.m.
The prosecution, however, argued that there is no definitive formula to determine how long it would take for the smoke alarms to have been activated. Additionally, Saosawatsri buzzed Wang into her apartment just before 8 p.m., meaning she was alive when Wang went into her apartment.
Wang is scheduled to be sentenced on January 20.