BELLINGHAM A jury found a Bellingham man guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday, June 6, for killing his estranged wife at her downtown apartment.
Keayn Dunya drove about 90 miles from south Whidbey Island to Bellingham early July 3, 2011, to kill Kriston Peterman-Dunya.
He walked down Holly Street with a shotgun in his right hand at 4:52 a.m., as the sun was rising, entered his estranged wifes apartment, knocked her down and shot her once in the chest.
A broken marriage and a child-custody dispute over the couples 7-year-old son, Kai, was the motive for the killing, said Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran.
The verdict was delivered to a packed courtroom shortly after noon, after about a day and a half of jury deliberations.
Keayns eyes searched the faces of the jurors as they confirmed, one by one, their belief in his guilt. He remained stoic as he was handcuffed and led from the courtroom.
Keayn, 39, did not testify during the trial. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Monday, June 11.
Chilling testimony from Keayns then-girlfriend Kara Buchanan was key to the prosecutions case. Buchanan had originally been charged with first-degree murder after she told a detective in a voice mail that she killed Kriston, a confession that turned out to be a ruse.
After the confession, Buchanan tried to kill herself by slicing her arms with a box cutter and swallowing a bottle of hydrocodone pills. But police found her alive, sitting on a bloodstained driftwood log at Double Bluff, a beach near her Whidbey Island home.
A Bellingham police detective later uncovered surveillance footage of what appeared to be Keayn walking on Holly with a shotgun around the time of the killing. His DNA was found on a latex glove at the crime scene.
Keayn had borrowed his girlfriends Toyota Avalon, without her knowledge, early on the morning of the murder. He came home hours later, tossed her red jacket into the washing machine and started burning something near the driveway.
Little girl, Buchanan recalled him saying, go back in the house.
Buchanan lied to police when they interviewed her, saying Keayn had been with her the whole weekend. But when she learned that he had killed Kriston, she tried to take the blame. She didnt want Keayns son to be taken from him, she testified, because she didnt want Kai to be an orphan.
The murder charge against Buchanan was dropped in a deal that she testify for the prosecution. She pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance in the first degree, for giving Keayn an alibi.
Buchanan, 41, was released from jail Monday morning, days after she took the witness stand. She had served about 11 months in jail since her arrest.
The defense admitted it wasnt Buchanan in the surveillance footage. Instead, attorney Thomas Fryer tried to convince jurors that Buchanan had persuaded someone else to kill Kriston, so she and Keayn could start a family with Kai.
Kriston, 32, was a longtime employee at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Bellingham. She also co-wrote several books with her father, Gene Peterman.
In the months before the murder, Kriston had been trying to wrap up a divorce from Keayn. Friends had heard she was thinking of moving to Missouri with Kai. A court date for the divorce trial was scheduled for the end of July 2011.
Kristons family, reached by phone Wednesday at their home in Missouri, declined to comment about the verdict.