BELLINGHAM - Second-degree murder charges were dropped Thursday, Sept. 26, for a Bellingham man who stabbed a 17-year-old boy to death at a Bellingham house party.
Geoff Kyle Spain, 22, feared for his life when he stabbed Davonte Thompson and his 18-year-old brother, Brandon Thompson, with a black folding knife in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, his defense attorneys said.
Prosecutors found it impossible to prove otherwise. Two linchpin witnesses - Davonte's brother and Ricky Jones - refused to talk at length about what they saw, even though they had the best view of the confrontation, said Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey.
Charges filed in court claim Spain, who lived at the house in the 500 block of Samish Way, acted very intoxicated that morning: He supposedly tried to pull up a stop sign at the end of the driveway and put branches in the road to block traffic. But his defense team, Jeff A. Lustick and David A. Nelson, said they couldn't find a witness sober enough to confirm those statements.
Several people did, however, confirm Spain had been pushed to the ground, knocked out and surrounded, Lustick said. Spain awoke in a daze, having been kicked in the head. According to his defense attorneys, he stabbed Davonte in the chest because he feared he would be beaten to death.
"It's the strongest case of self-defense I've seen in my 28-year career," Nelson said.
Police found Spain - a 6-foot-1 man wearing a basketball jersey - covered in blood and mud. He ran from police, but they caught up with and arrested him. Officers recovered a knife near a pool of blood at the bottom of the driveway.
Brandon Thompson, who suffered a knife wound to his face, gave limited and conflicting statements of what happened; Jones had little to say, other than to claim that Davonte ran up to Spain just before the stabbing, according to dismissal paperwork filed Thursday.
Police took 30 witness statements and wrote about 850 pages of reports. Witnesses' recollections of the stabbing "often contradicted each other possibly due to alcohol, drugs, darkness, vantage points, and stress of the event," according to the court paperwork.
"I don't think a jury would ever get a clear vision of what happened," Richey said, "because Geoff Spain can say whatever he wants."
Prosecutors also dropped charges of first-degree assault against Spain for stabbing Brandon Thompson.
A phone number for Davonte Thompson's mother had been disconnected when a reporter tried to reach her Thursday.
Since his arrest, Spain has been beaten up twice in jail, Nelson said in court.
Spain had been held at $1 million bail. At 2 p.m., he walked out a free man for the first time since February.