Tacoma man sentenced for murder of Renton homeowner whose property he tried to steal

KING COUNTY, Wash. — A man convicted of killing a Renton homeowner when trying to steal his property from under him learns his fate.

Jeremy James Shaw was convicted last month of first-degree murder and arson.

This case was unusual from the start. This defendant convinced his wife they could kill a homeowner, any homeowner in King County, and simply take over their property.

He was again in a courtroom here at the Regional Justice Center, this time asking for mercy.

Shaw, 43, was back in a King County Superior Courtroom for what will likely be the last time.

He was convicted in April of an unimaginable crime, the murder of a man he did not know. Shaw had decided to make the victim’s Renton property his own.

“I will never forget the Friday afternoon when detectives showed up at our home,” said Ross Bogue, the victim’s brother-in-law.

He described the horror his wife, the victim’s sister, felt when they learned the news of his murder, recalling, “The primal scream that came out of Brenda’s mouth from somewhere deep inside her soul and how she collapsed in my arms. And we realized instantly that our lives and our world view had changed.”

Back in September 2018, 67-year-old Steve Morphis had just retired after a long career at Boeing.

What he did not know, what he couldn’t know, was that Shaw had scoured King County properties before settling on stealing his Renton home and the adjacent seven-acre property.

Shaw bludgeoned him to death, stole his vehicle and set it alight in University Place. Shaw’s wife was his accomplice.

“It’s not something we do lightly,” said King County deputy prosecutor Gretchen Holmgren, “to recommend the high end of the range.”

But Holmgren cited Shaw’s extensive criminal history in Washington State as well as in Wisconsin in seeking the maximum.

Still, Shaw’s lawyer asked for leniency, his client declining to speak because of a planned appeal.

But King County Superior Court Judge Matthew Williams was not swayed. He sentenced Shaw to the maximum – more than 45 years in prison.

Shaw’s wife was convicted in a separate trial of residential burglary, rendering criminal assistance and conspiracy to commit theft. She got four years in prison.

Shaw faces still more charges in at least two unrelated cases in Pierce County, crimes he allegedly committed before the murder in Renton.