Murder charge filed in an Eritrean man’s slaying

Murder charge filed in Seattle Krispy Kreme slaying

By Levi Pulkkinen, Staff
Published 03:10 p.m., Thursday, April 5, 2012

A homeless Seattle woman accused of stabbing a man to death earlier this week has been charged with murder.

Filing a second-degree murder charge Thursday, King County prosecutors contend Karen R. Latham stabbed Zerabruk Habtemiriam to death Monday in the parking lot of the Aurora Avenue doughnut shop.

Prosecutors contend Latham stabbed Habtemiriam in the chest after he refused to give her money for food.

“The defendant’s actions – plunging a knife into the chest of the victim – demonstrate that she presents an extreme danger to the community,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole told the court.


Latham, a 23-year-old homeless woman previously residing in New Jersey, faces 12 to 20 years in prison if convicted as charged.

At 4:10 p.m., a man stopped at a neighboring Jack in the Box heard screams coming from the doughnut shop lot, located near the intersection of Aurora Avenue North and North 125th Street.

The man told police he saw Habtemiriam on the ground bleeding profusely near a parked car. He was pointing toward a woman – Latham, according to police – and demanding someone apprehend her.

“Please don’t let her get away!” Habtemiriam shouted. “She stabbed me!”

The bystander pulled his car around and followed the fleeing woman while calling 911. Seattle Police Detective Cloyd Steiger told the court. He watched as she ran into the nearby Nites Inn motel.

Police arrived and arrested Latham, who was identified by the bystander and a second witness. The second man said Latham passed him on the street covered in blood; when she saw him staring, she threatened to stab him in the face, he told police.

Habtemiriam was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. He was later found to have bled to death due to the stab wound.

Arrested at the motel, Latham was questioned by homicide unit detectives. Steiger described the woman’s statement as “rife with inconsistencies,” but suggested she ultimately came clean about the attack on Habtemiriam.

Latham told police she flagged down Habtemiriam about 10 blocks north on Aurora Avenue and asked for a ride to Jack in the Box. Habtemiriam agreed and drove her as far as the neighboring Krispy Kreme.

She then asked Habtemiriam for food money, and he gave her $5. He refused when she asked for more money, prompting her to pull a switchblade knife.

When Habtemiriam demanded she get out of his car, she stabbed him in once, causing the fatal wound, Steiger told the court.

Jailed on $1 million bail, Latham is expected to be arraigned April 19 at King County Superior Court in Seattle.


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