The Skagit County man suspected of killing his landlord with a chain saw told investigators that the attack was in self defense, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Justin M. Daly, 34, was booked into Skagit County Jail on Tuesday morning, Oct. 9, on suspicion of second-degree murder, after his landlord, Louis J. Auriemma, 52, was found dead in a grisly attack the night before.
Deputies responded at about 6 p.m. Monday to a home at 4842 Blank Road, north of Sedro-Woolley and just south of Whatcom County, after a neighbor called police when he heard screams. They were coming from the person who found Auriemma's body.
Another tenant on the property told investigators that Auriemma had been trying to evict Daly, according to the affidavit, which was signed by Skagit County Sheriff's Detective Theresa Luvera.
Daly was found Tuesday morning walking along the road near the south end of Skagit County and was brought in for questioning. He told investigators that Auriemma had come after him with a steel roofing stake, so he hit Auriemma with a baseball bat and used a chain saw to cut off the top of the man's head. He then left in his truck, hitting a fence as he drove out. Detectives later found a bat in Daly's truck, according to the affidavit.
Skagit County Coroner Daniel Dempsey said he couldn't find evidence that a chain saw was used in the attack. Auriemma appears to have been bludgeoned in the face and head with a bat or some kind of blunt object, he said.
Undersheriff Tom Molitor said deputies found a bloody chain saw next to the body and a "pretty horrific" crime scene. Money covered in blood was scattered around the body.
"The violence to the victim was pretty extensive, and that's what led us to make the assumption that this had been an attack with a chain saw," Molitor said. "It was that bloody and damaging."
Investigators are still comparing Daly's statements with the evidence, which is being processed by the Washington State Patrol lab. He remains in jail in Skagit County.
Daly has a violent criminal history, including convictions for robbery, assault and witness tampering. He's made several court appearances in Whatcom County.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 756-2803.