Murder charges filed against neighbor in deaths of family of soldier serving in Iraq
SEATTLE – Prosecutors filed murder and arson charges Monday against a man accused of knifing a soldier’s family to death and burning the home to conceal the crime while the soldier was serving in Iraq.According to court documents, Conner Michael Schierman, 24, told investigators he had an alcoholic blackout and woke up in the victims’ Kirkland home early on July 17 covered in blood. He doused the home with gasoline and set it on fire, the charging papers allege.Schierman was being held on $10 million bail and could face the death penalty if convicted.He had moved in across the street from the family of National Guard Sgt. Leonid Milkin just a few weeks before the killings.The sergeant’s wife, Olga Milkin, 28; her sons Justin, 5, and Andrew, 3; and her sister, Lyubov Botvina, 24, who lived at the house, all were killed. Sgt. Milkin was granted leave after learning about his family and returned from Baghdad last week.King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng choked up when he said that the horrific nature of the crime was compounded because Milkin was serving in Iraq when the crime occurred.”Sergeant Milkin put himself in harm’s way in service to his country,” Maleng said. “He had no reason to fear for the safety of his family back home in a peaceful neighborhood in Kirkland.”Court documents say detectives found a hunting knife believed to be the murder weapon in the victims’ home. Video from a surveillance camera at a nearby gas station shows Schierman filling two gas containers before the fire was set, the documents say.Although investigators have declined to discuss to what extent the defendant knew the victims, Maleng said, “There is compelling evidence of premeditation.” He declined to elaborate.Maleng said he will give “serious consideration” to seeking the death penalty. He has 30 days to make that decision. Schierman is scheduled to be arraigned July 31.
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