Citing the “vicious” nature of the crime and his previous criminal record, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden sentenced 34-year-old Christopher V. Cowan to 30 years and six months in prison, the upper end of the sentencing range, in connection with his Jan. 17 knife attack on Edmonds Domino’s Pizza employee Mike Brenick.
In his October trial, an eight-woman, four-man jury convicted Cowan, who is homeless, of second-degree attempted murder, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Bowden was handling the sentencing phase for Judge Richard Okrent, who had presided over that trial but has been out ill.
Asked by Bowden if he had anything to say before sentence was imposed, Cowan answered, “No sir.” Dressed in prison stripes and standing with his attorney Jennifer Bartlett, he remained unemotional throughout the proceedings.
According to information presented at the eight-day trial, on the night of Jan. 17 at approximately 11:40 p.m. Brenick was preparing to go out on a delivery. As he approached his car carrying the food order, he noticed someone in the driver’s seat who appeared to be stealing property. He opened the car door to challenge the suspect, and in the ensuing scuffle was stabbed three times, with one wound causing his intestines to spill out.
Holding his abdomen, Brenick limped back to the store, where other employees called 9-1-1. First responders stabilized Brenick at the scene. He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he underwent emergency surgery. He has since recovered and is doing well.
The assailant escaped on foot and was unsuccessfully pursued by an Edmonds Police K-9 team. A subsequent investigation identified the suspect as Cowan, and he was picked up Jan. 21 while walking on Highway 99 in Shoreline.
Key to the prosecution’s case was a fingerprint found on an item taken from the victim’s car that matched Cowan’s left thumb. The item, a manila envelope containing Brenick’s auto insurance documents, was discarded by the assailant and recovered by police during the K-9 track. Read more details in My Edmonds News’ coverage of the first day of the trial.
Cowan’s defense team steadfastly maintained his innocence, calling the fingerprint and other evidence flawed. But the jury disagreed, and found Cowen guilty on all charges.
According to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, Cowen is not eligible for parole, but may qualify for up to a 10-percent reduction in his sentence for good behavior as a prisoner. Should he earn this, he could be released no earlier than 2042.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel