Lester found guilty in stabbing death of pregnant girlfriend

Lester found guilty in stabbing death of pregnant girlfriend
Murder suspect Joseph A. Lester as he is being led away in handcuffs by officers shortly after his surrender in Puyallup on Nov. 1, 2011.
TACOMA, Wash. -- A Pierce County man could spend the next 25 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty of murdering his pregnant girlfriend.

Joseph Lester, 25, was convicted Thursday of second degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of 21-year-old Keisha Lewis.

"This is a sad example of domestic violence," Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a written statement. "The defendant's murderous rage leaves Keisha Lewis' two young children without their mother."

On Halloween night in 2011, Lester showed up at Lewis' University Place home with the couple's 9-month-old daughter. Prosecutors say he and Lewis began to argue outside the apartment, and moments later witnesses heard Lewis cry out, "He's killing me," according to court papers.

Lewis was able to make it back inside, where her mom, best friend and 2-year-old son were located, but she was bleeding heavily from multiple stab wounds and died before she could be taken to a hospital.

Lester grabbed his young daughter and sped away from the apartment. A witness told authorities that Lester said, "I'm doing to her what she did to me."

Lester turned himself in several hours later.

During his murder trial, Lester claimed he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the time of the attack and was defending himself from Lewis. But an autopsy showed Lewis had been stabbed multiple times, including fatal wounds to the head and the throat, according to prosecutors.

She was at least two months pregnant when she was killed.

Lester is scheduled to be sentenced in March and faces a standard sentence range of 16 to 25 years in prison. The state will request an exceptional sentence greater than 25 years.