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Originally published Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 7:50 PM

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Former boyfriend charged in Kirkland woman’s slaying

The ex-boyfriend of a Kirkland woman who was found strangled in January was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sadly this woman knew her fate. Why she didn't own a firearm and keep it with he at all times is a mystery. MORE
Wow. These comments are a whole bunch of victim blaming if I ever saw it. Sometimes moving to another town doesn't end... MORE
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Before her body was found Jan. 6 in her Kirkland home, Amy Rene Hargrove had taken out a protection order pointing police to her ex-boyfriend in case anything ever happened to her.

“A piece of paper isn’t going to save my life when he finally gets me,” she wrote in the court document, “but at least you will know who killed me.”

The former boyfriend, Burrell M. Cushman, 28, was interviewed by detectives immediately after Hargrove’s slaying. After telling police he had been with her before she was slain, he was arrested for violating the restraining order, according to charging documents, but not charged in connection with her death.

On Tuesday, more than six months after the death of the mother of four, Cushman was charged with second-degree murder in connection with Hargrove’s death. According to King County prosecutors, Cushman was already in jail in connection with an unrelated domestic-violence charge for allegedly assaulting a new girlfriend.

Throughout the investigation into Hargrove’s slaying, Kirkland police acknowledged Cushman was a person of interest, but they also had to eliminate other potential suspects and wait for the results of crime-lab tests.

“It’s frustrating,” Kirkland police spokesman Mike Murray said weeks after the slaying. “We hear he’s running around saying the police got nothing on him.”

In charging documents, police and prosecutors say the state crime lab found Cushman’s DNA underneath Hargrove’s fingernails. In addition, electronic records revealed that Hargrove had not accessed her phone or social media since Cushman reported last seeing her alive Jan. 5, court documents allege.

Hargrove, who also went by the name Amy Gang, had moved into a mother-in-law unit on her mother’s property because she was afraid of Cushman, her friends said.

In the 2012 petition for a King County Superior Court protection order, Hargrove said Cushman terrorized and assaulted her on a regular basis, beating her while she was pregnant with his child, raping her at gunpoint and forcing her to have sex with one of his relatives.

On other occasions, she wrote, he choked her, fractured her eye socket, injured her cats, broke 13 cellphones and led police on a high-speed chase from Bellevue to Lynnwood while her children were in the car, she said in the court document.

However, she reunited with Cushman toward the end of 2013, prosecutors say in court documents.

In a text conversation with Cushman’s mother that was obtained through a forensic phone examination, Hargrove is alleged to have written, “Why did I let him back in? I give up. Why? I need this order and now it’s useless.”

Later, prosecutors say, she wrote, “I cannot stand up for myself or get away from him now without a major disaster” and “I’m scared that I’m not going to live through this.”

Police and prosecutors say that Cushman, when interviewed, told police he had been with Hargrove on Jan. 4 and 5 and said he had last seen Hargrove around 3:50 p.m. on the 5th. He claimed she was wide-awake and yelling at him when he left, court documents say.

Cushman’s mother said she talked to Hargrove at around 1:22 p.m. on Jan. 5, court documents say.

The following day, Jan. 6, Hargrove’s body was found by her own mother.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office determined she died on Jan. 5 of manual strangulation, They estimated her time of death to be between 1:22 and 4:38 p.m., when police said Cushman called his mother crying and saying he “had a bad feeling about tonight.”

When charged with Hargrove’s murder, Cushman was already in King County Jail in connection with an alleged domestic-violence assault on a new girlfriend, court records indicate.

Seattle Municipal Court documents show Cushman was arrested after an alleged June 20 assault on a pregnant girlfriend.

Seattle police said the new girlfriend told officers Cushman became angry when she didn’t want to get up early to take him for a job interview in Kirkland. She said Cushman punched her in the abdomen and then slammed her against a wall, according to court documents.

Court records indicate the woman sought medical assistance, but also say she left a hospital before she could be admitted. It does not specifically address the pregnancy or the baby’s condition.

Information from Seattle Times researcher Miyoko Wolf and Times archives was included in this report.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at cclarridge@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8983.



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