Crime

Bellingham couple sentenced in murder-for-hire plot

Bellingham man sentenced for solicitation to commit murder in first degree

Sean Robert Head, 28, is sentenced to 15 years and five months in prison for solicitation to commit murder in the first degree in Whatcom County Superior Court on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Bellingham.
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Sean Robert Head, 28, is sentenced to 15 years and five months in prison for solicitation to commit murder in the first degree in Whatcom County Superior Court on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Bellingham.

A Bellingham couple was sentenced Wednesday, Oct. 19, for a foiled plot to murder a man near Everson.

Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig ordered Sean Robert Head to serve 15 years and five months in prison for soliciting to murder his business partner, Edward Davidson, 76, at a house off Oat Coles Road in rural Whatcom County. Charging papers state Head, 28, tried to hire two other people to kill Davidson before his girlfriend, Esmeralda Martin, agreed to do it.

Martin, 24, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for attempted murder in the second degree.

She drove her ex-husband’s car to Davidson’s house the morning of June 24, 2015. She told Davidson they needed to talk about Head. She went to use the bathroom, where she put in earplugs. She opened the door, and Davidson was bringing her a cup of tea when she shot him in the shoulder with a Kel-Tec 9 mm handgun, according to the prosecutor. She chased Davidson around the home and outside, until she ran out of ammunition and he locked her out.

Davidson survived gunshot wounds. Martin fled in a panic. She called Head on her own phone instead of the disposable phone he’d given her, according to the charges. She then met him at his yoga class – Head’s intended alibi – and he told her to “disappear,” to flee to Seattle.

First, though, she needed to return her ex-husband’s car. Police caught up with Martin while she was en route to Lynden. She revealed the plan to detectives: Head had given her the gun and given a brief lesson on how to fire it.

“She had never shot a gun before,” said prosecutor Dave McEachran.

Martin described to police how Head held grudges against Davidson: He accused him of carrying on sexual relationships with young men he would hire, for example.

“The charges that she’s made against me are utterly and outrageously – it’s all a lie,” Davidson told a reporter Wednesday, “and I am horrified that my friends see these charges that she has leveled against me.”

Martin’s attorney, Carl Munson, said Head introduced his girlfriend to drugs and alcohol, and poisoned her mind with allegations about Davidson.

Head and Davidson ran a rental company called Ahead Vacation Rentals. Head was the sole heir to Davidson’s estate, valued at $1 million to $2 million.

Over the months that preceded the shooting, Head tried to hire two others to kill Davidson, according to charging papers. He’d offered up to $50,000. Neither person went through with it.

One of those would-be hit men, in an interview with the defense in Texas, gave a fairly sympathetic story about Head, painting a picture of his relationship with Davidson as more complicated than a mere business partnership, said Head’s public defender, Starck Follis.

“There was also animosity and perhaps some other issues going on that I don’t think we need to get into at this point,” Follis said. “I don’t think this boils down to a pure sense of greed. I think there’s more issues going on than that.”

Martin pleaded guilty in May to attempted murder in the second degree. As part of the deal she agreed to testify against Head, if his case went to trial.

Head admitted guilt Monday, Oct. 17, to solicitation to commit murder in the first degree. Under state guidelines he faced 15 to 20 years in prison. Head had nothing to say to the court Wednesday before Uhrig approved a plea deal putting him in prison for about 15 1/2 years.

Davidson did not want to speak in court, either.

Martin grew up in an Albanian orphanage until she was adopted at age 7. As a single mother of a young child, she worked at Foot Locker and cleaned houses for Head’s business. Her attorney called her involvement in the murder plot an aberration.

Martin asked the judge if she could address Davidson directly. The judge allowed her, and she told him through tears she was sorry for hurting him.

“It was not in my character to do that, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you and all the hurt that I’ve caused you, your friends, my family – it’s caused a lot of people hurt,” she said. “I hope that one day, you might even forgive me.”

Uhrig sentenced her to 13 years and nine months in prison, as suggested by the plea deal. Outside the courtroom Davidson seemed to accept her apology, but expressed disappointment that he did not see the same remorse from Head.

“Contrition is an important element in our lives,” he said. “I didn’t see any of that from Sean.”

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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