News brief: Guilty verdict reached quickly in jewelry store trial

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A jury took less than two hours today to find a Federal Way man guilty in the failed March jewelry heist in downtown Centralia.

Justin D. McPherson, 29, survived a gunshot wound he sustained when he was confronted inside Salewsky’s Jewelry shop in the early morning hours of March 20. Centralia police detectives tracked him down at a Tacoma hospital.

The owner said all the stolen pieces were recovered; in a trail of jewelry that led through a hole cut into the wall of the shop.

Plea deals were made with two women who police at first labeled the getaway drivers, but both testified they weren’t in on a plan to break into the business.

Their testimony however placed McPherson and his childhood friend Ryan W. Cox in the vicinity at the time of the burglary.

Cox had a plea agreement with prosecutors as well, but it fell through and he wasn’t called to testify in the three-day trial. He remains in the Lewis County Jail.

McPherson was found guilty of residential burglary, second-degree burglary and second-degree malicious mischief.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead described the shop as a residence because Jeremy Salewsky lived in an upstairs apartment. Salewsky testified he went downstairs to investigate noises and fired at a person who surprised him, and then jumped out a hole in the wall.

The second burglary count is related to the vacant business on the other side of the wall.

McPherson shook his head ever so slightly as he turned toward the jury when the verdict was read. He is represented by Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson.

The jury of nine women and three men also found an aggravating circumstance, that McPherson committed the crime while the victim was present.

That finding means a judge will be free to sentence him to the maximum of 10 years, according to Halstead.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

For background, read “Jewelry store break-in defendant’s companions testify against him” from Thursday May 30, 2013, here

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