Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2013 beating death at Samish Way motel

A man must spend 9 ½ years in prison for beating his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend to death in a Samish Way motel room, a Whatcom County judge ruled Tuesday, Nov. 4.

David Alan Solomon Jr., 35, of the Lummi Reservation, and Shirena Carolynn LeClaire, 30, had been texting back and forth about their recent breakup in the hours before he went to find her at the Aloha Motel, 315 N. Samish Way, in Bellingham.

Solomon showed up to Room 29 around 2:15 a.m. Dec. 15. He knocked. No one answered.

Security footage showed Solomon left, then returned 10 minutes later to kick down the door, according to charging papers. Inside the room Solomon found LeClaire with her new boyfriend, Ike Pius Scarborough, 33. Solomon grabbed Scarborough and dragged him to the ground. LeClaire jumped over the men and ran outside. Solomon fled before police arrived.

Officers found the beaten man on the floor, just inside the doorway. Scarborough, a commercial fisherman, succumbed to brain injuries a day later at St. Joseph hospital.

This week Solomon pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. He unfolded a sheet of paper Tuesday morning in Judge Ira Uhrig’s courtroom, and read aloud, in a halting monotone, a message to Scarborough’s family.

“I know I’ve hurt a lot of people, for what I have done, and for that I’m truly sorry,” he said. “I became angry at what I found, and I had no clue that he had a serious head injury. Please know that I did not intend for him to die. I went too far. In the heat of the moment, I was out of character and made a big mistake. I admit I was wrong for what I did, and I am so sorry for the pain and suffering that I have caused in your hearts that will never go away.”

Solomon said he’d been visited by Scarborough in dreams.

“I want you to know,” he said, “that in the first dream I had of him, he forgave me.”

He stared downward while Scarborough’s sister, Elaina Angel Phair, spoke to the judge on behalf of the victim’s family.

“For him to take my brother away from me is senseless. I don’t see any reason for what he did,” Phair said, through tears. “He was my best friend, my strength. Now, I don’t have that.”

Solomon had a limited criminal history: auto theft in 1999, felony possession of marijuana in 2008. Under state guidelines he faced 86 to 114 months in prison. In accordance with the plea deal, Uhrig sentenced him to the top end of the range: nine years, six months.

LeClaire and Scarborough had felony records. LeClaire stabbed a man outside a bar in 2005; Scarborough had convictions for theft, burglary and robbery.

Another defendant in the manslaughter case, Cody George, has been charged with rendering criminal assistance in the first degree. Police said George, Solomon’s neighbor, parked his gold Ford Explorer outside Room 29 of the Aloha just as the beating ended. He admitted to police he got out of the SUV and saw Scarborough lying motionless near the busted-in door. George then drove Solomon from the scene, according to charging papers.

“Just to clear any rumors, I didn’t plan this,” Solomon said Tuesday, in reference to the killing. “I was alone.”

George is awaiting trial. His next court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Last month the Bellingham City Council voted 6-0 to condemn the embattled motel.

On top of concerns about unhealthy levels of methamphetamine residue in many rooms, a city health official called the Aloha “the place of the worst crime in the whole city,” and council members approved an official motion to label the motel a blight on the Samish neighborhood.