A Bellingham man appeared in court Monday to face charges of beating his roommate to death.
Bail was set at $500,000 for Travis James Marshall, 40, who is accused of second-degree murder for the death of David Quintin Williams, a head chef and manager at Jack Niemann’s Black Forest Steakhouse in Bellingham.
Marshall had yelled for a neighbor to call for help around 4:40 a.m. Friday, saying his roommate had been beaten up at a bar by a group of Navy sailors, police said. Officers found Williams on his front lawn in the 700 block of East Illinois Street, with grave injuries to his head.
Paramedics pronounced Williams dead at the scene. He was 53.
On Monday an autopsy showed he suffered a “prolonged and serious” beating, and died of extensive blunt facial trauma, said Dr. Gary Goldfogel, the Whatcom County medical examiner. Goldfogel could not say for certain if a weapon was used or not. Toxicology tests are pending on both men, though police said they believe Marshall had been drinking alcohol.
In a later interview at the police station Marshall’s story shifted “all over the place,” Bellingham police Lt. Danette Beckley said. Police noted his hands were puffy, with marks on them. He told detectives he punched a wall because he was mad about people giving Williams a hard time.
Detectives spoke with other people who saw the two men that night, and their stories “totally conflicted” with the events described by Marshall, Beckley said. Police arrested Marshall on Friday evening, at the end of the police interview, to face a charge of second-degree murder.
Police believe the men got into a physical fight outside of their shared home. Other than the injuries to his hands, Marshall did not appear hurt, Beckley said.
Over the weekend bail was set at $1 million.
Marshall fought back tears Monday as a private attorney, Phillip Tavel, asked for his bail to be lowered so that he could work to pay for his legal defense. Marshall lived at the home on East Illinois for 4½ years, and Williams moved in with him about year ago, Tavel said. The defense argued it was a hardship for Marshall – “an upstanding member of society” – to remain behind bars while he is grieving.
“They were very good friends, and in fact, they’d been out together that night,” Tavel said.
Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich halved the bail amount Monday.
Marshall has one domestic violence conviction on his record in Bellingham. He was accused of choking and punching a female roommate in the face after an argument in November 2011.
Felony charges of second-degree assault were reduced to a misdemeanor in a plea deal about a year later. For that crime Marshall was handed a one-year jail sentence, with all but 60 days suspended. A judge required him to get treatment for domestic violence and substance abuse.