News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Swinomish Tribal Member Pleads Guilty To Murder Of Common-Law Wife

Defendant Admits He Suffocated Wife Following Argument

November 27, 2012

            An enrolled member of the Swinomish Indian Tribe pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle today to second degree murder in the death of his common-law wife, who was a Lummi tribal member.  KEVIN S. O’LEARY, 55 , a resident of the Lummi Reservation admitted that on June 7, 2012, he smothered Valerie Jefferson with a pillow, wrapped her body in a blanket and hid it under the bed.  Law enforcement discovered Jefferson’s body five days later.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of no more than 15 years in prison.  However, when O’LEARY is sentenced on March 8, 2013, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik can sentence him to any sentence authorized by law.  The maximum sentence for second degree murder is life in prison.

            According to the facts admitted in the plea agreement, O’LEARY and Jefferson had been arguing about an affair O’LEARY had had over a decade ago.  After several hours of arguing, O’LEARY pushed Jefferson onto their bed, grabbed a pillow and held it tightly over her neck and pressed down until her body went limp and her eyes rolled up in her head.  O’LEARY admits he killed Jefferson with malice aforethought, and wrapped the body in a blanket, and hid it under their bed.  Both were enrolled tribal members and the murder was on Lummi tribal trust land, giving federal authorities jurisdiction in the case.

            The case was investigated by Lummi Tribal police and the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jerrod Patterson.

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