Lynnwood resident David Morgan appeared Monday before Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce I. Weiss to answer charges of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree arson and first-degree assault. In the courtroom were more than a dozen friends and family of his alleged victim, ex-wife Brenda Welch. Morgan pleaded not guilty to all charges.
As previously reported in MLTnews, prosecutors have charged the 55-year-old Morgan with the Nov. 16 premeditated attempted murder of Welch to avoid paying her more than $50,000 in child support and other payments. They further charge that Morgan set fire to his own home to cover up his attack on Welch when she came to pick up their daughter. The couple, which divorced in 2013, maintain joint custody of the child.
Welch remains in Harborview, and according to the family is showing “steady improvement.” Her boyfriend, Chris Anderson, said the family plans to release an update on her condition in “the next 24-48 hours.”
In court Monday, Morgan adamantly maintained that he was attacked in his own home and knocked unconscious. He further stated that when he came to, he found his house in flames and his ex-wife beaten and unconscious.
Public Defender Bill Jacquette, standing in for Morgan’s attorney Sarah Silbovitz, argued that Morgan was not a flight risk and requested that the court release him pending trial. Prosecuting attorney Paul Stern vehemently disagreed, saying that Morgan is accused of “savage acts” that show a “total disregard for the community and the victim.” Stern also pointed out that a cache of personal items found in Morgan’s car the night of the fire suggest that he was planning to “leave town” immediately, and that were he released, he would have no place to stay “since he burned down his own home.”
Accepting the prosecutor’s arguments, Judge Weiss ordered Morgan held in custody and set bail at $2.5 million. Morgan hung his head as the judge made the pronouncement.
Morgan’s trial on the three charges is set for Feb. 6, with a pre-trial omnibus hearing on Jan. 9.
– Story and photos by Larry Vogel