REPUBLIC A Malo man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Oct. 11 in Ferry County Superior Court, nearly a year after killing his stepfather.
Morgan Eugene Christensen, 33, admitted he beat his stepfather, Brian Brill, with a tire iron and strangled him to death Oct. 13, 2012, at Brill’s home at 26 Hidden Meadows Lane, Curlew. Brill was 51.
Christensen also pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary for entering the home of Brill and Christensen’s mother, Debra Brill.
Both crimes are Class A felonies with maximum penalties of life in prison and $50,000 fines.
State Assistant Attorneys General Tienney Milnor and John Hillman prosecuted the case at the request of Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Sandona.
Sandona said Christensen agreed twice earlier to plead guilty, but backed out at the last minute. That’s when Sandona called Hillman for assistance.
“He did a marvelous job of being steady under fire” during negotiations, Sandona said.
Witnesses reported that the night before the murder, Christensen stood outside of his parents’ home with a hammer and threatened to kill Brian Brill. Christensen was angry that his parents had allowed his ex-girlfriend to live with them in order to protect her from physical abuse by Christensen, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Christensen tried to break into the home that night, breaking a door handle in the process, but was unsuccessful.
He returned the next morning. Christensen’s ex-girlfriend, Kachina Michaelson, reported that Christensen burst into the home, yelling that he was going to kill her. She fled and hid in a closet and then under a bed.
Christensen encountered his stepfather, knocked him down and beat him, court records show.
Christensen then got a tire iron and struck Brill repeatedly while Michaelson hid nearby.
Brill was transported by Curlew Emergency Medical Service to Ferry County Memorial Hospital in Republic, where he later died, records show.
An autopsy revealed Christensen also strangled Brill.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his office “is proud to provide specialized prosecution assistance for county prosecutors across Washington state who may have conflicts or other circumstances preventing them from prosecuting cases themselves.”
The attorney general assistance program “has really been a lifesaver for us because we’re such a small county,” Sandona said.
“For the sake of the Brill family — and all involved — I am pleased our office brought this case to justice.
“My thoughts are with those who knew and loved Mr. Brill during this difficult time,” Ferguson said.
Sandona echoed Ferguson.
“It’s very sad.
“(Debra Brill) lost her husband and how her son’s going to be in prison for awhile,” he said.
Sentencing is set for Dec. 13 in Ferry County Superior Court before Judge Pat Monasmith.
Christensen has been in the Ferry County Jail since his arrest.
Bail was set at $500,000.