Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO

Discarded cigarette leads to arrest of Kent double homicide suspects

DNA reveals man, woman who reportedly killed two people in January 2023 at local motel

A discarded cigarette found by detectives outside the Kent Valley Motel helped lead to the arrest of a Seattle man and woman for allegedly killing two people Jan. 31, 2023 inside a room at the motel.

Corey Eugene Bills, 32, and Scottina A. Johnson, 37, each face two counts of first-degree murder for reportedly shooting Sean Peoples, 43, and Sharmayne Jackson, 32.

Bills and Johnson reportedly shared a single cigarette behind the motel before they knocked on the door of a nearby room, entered and quickly left after seven shots were fired, according to charging papers filed by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Bills was extradited Feb. 16 from a California prison and booked into the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle. Bail was set at $5 million. He is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 29 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Charges were filed in May 2023 against Bills and Johnson. Johnson has been in custody since June 2023 and pleaded not guilty. She has a pretrial hearing set for March 6 in Kent. The killings reportedly were in retaliation for a drug death Bills claimed Jackson had caused.

If each are convicted of two counts of murder, they face a minimum of 50 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Kent Police detectives reportedly found several cigarettes outside the motel where surveillance video from the motel and other nearby businesses had shown Bills and Johnson sharing a cigarette and walking in and out of the motel room. Detectives sent the cigarettes to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for DNA analysis.

In April 2023, a detective received results from the crime lab that showed a cigarette butt had DNA that matched two profiles in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), a national DNA information repository maintained by the FBI of convicted offenders. Those profiles reportedly were matches for Bills and Johnson.

Peoples and Jackson each died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. Officers found Peoples and Jackson dead after responding at about 10:23 p.m. Jan. 31 to the Kent Valley Motel, 743 Central Ave. N., according to Kent Police. Dispatch received multiple 911 calls reporting sounds of gunshots from inside one of the rooms.

Interview and release

On March 9, 2023, a Kent detective was informed by Seattle Police that they had a man in custody that claimed he had information about the Kent Valley Motel double homicide.

That man turned out to be Bills, who told Kent detectives he knew a man and heard that man talk on a cellphone about the murders. He said another man had been hired to kill Jackson and Peoples in retaliation for a drug-related death that Jackson had reportedly caused.

Bills, in custody on a harassment arrest, was released from jail a few days later, according to King County jail records. Kent detectives said they tried to reach Bills after his release but he never responded to their requests.

“His manipulative skills, shown in his ability to convince detectives that another was responsible for the murders and thereby gain his release from the King County jail, only heightens his threat to the public,” Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Donald Raz wrote in the charging documents. “Based on the extremely violent nature of the two murders, the defendant’s willingness to kill for payment, and the defendant’s manipulative skills, the defendant clearly poses a violent danger to the public.”

After detectives received the DNA evidence in April 2023, they focused on Bills and Johnson as the suspects. The two also were in a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Video footage reportedly shows Johnson carrying away a backpack from the motel room that she did not have prior to entering the room, according to court documents. Prosecutors noted that makes her a knowing and complete partner in the murders.

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