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Shipyard Shooter Guilty in Deaths

February 11, 2002

SEATTLE (AP) _ A former shipyard worker was convicted Monday of shooting two people to death and wounding two others in 1999 when he opened fire at the shipyard.

Kevin Cruz, 32, was convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He could get the death penalty or life in prison without parole at sentencing later this month.

``I’m relieved, that’s for sure,″ said Jim Brisendine, whose son, Russell Brisendine, was killed. ``Personally, I think he should get the death penalty. I hate to see it for his mother and sister, but I just think something needs to be done.″

Defense lawyer Eric Lindell said he was confident the jury would spare Cruz’s life once they learn more about him.

Prosecutors said Cruz walked into an office at the Northlake Shipyard on Nov. 3, 1999 and fired 11 rounds. Prosecutors believe he harbored a grudge because he was fired soon after the company’s insurance company cut off his benefits for a work-related injury, saying he wasn’t really hurt.

No suspect was found until two months later, when a mountain biker discovered a backpack containing the murder weapon and camouflage gear.

A DNA sample from the 9 mm gun’s holster matched Cruz’s, and he acknowledged during police questioning that the bag was his.

His lawyers said DNA evidence was mishandled by analysts and stressed that neither of the survivors identified Cruz’s picture the day after the shootings.

Both identified him as the shooter in court.

Shooting victim Patrick Ming, 21, said he was relieved by the verdict, but said the attack would be with him a long time.

``I got the easy part. I got shot,″ said Ming, who has a metal plate in his arm where the bone was shattered by a bullet. ``People who lost loved ones, that was the hard part.″

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