A King County jury today found a 42-year-old man guilty of second-degree murder in the December 2010 strangulation death of a Belltown woman.
Gary Wade was tried in King County Superior Court for the slaying of Michelle Thornton, 43. Jurors deliberated for a day and a half before reaching the verdict, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Footage from surveillance cameras in Thornton’s building, fingerprints and DNA evidence led police to Wade, a felon from Utah who allegedly was selling crack cocaine to Thornton, according to charges. He was arrested in February 2011 at his apartment.
Thornton, who worked at a Queen Anne Safeway store, was last seen alive on Dec. 30, 2010. Her body was discovered Jan. 6, 2011.
Thornton’s purse, wallet and identification were found hidden in her apartment; the door key and her phone were the only items missing, police said.
Two fingerprints left on Thornton’s glass-top coffee table were matched to Wade, according to police. DNA swabs and biological samples from Thornton’s body were sent to the State Patrol Crime Lab, where officials confirmed that the DNA profile from the samples matched Wade’s DNA profile, police said.
“Michelle Thornton was murdered in her own apartment by a killer who tried very hard to cover his tracks,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg in a news release. “Thanks to diligent police work by Seattle Police detectives and skillful prosecution, we were able to identify her killer and hold him accountable.”
Wade faces from 12 to 21 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.