Seattle man strangled housemate after being told to move out: prosecutors

A Seattle man strangled his housemate and threw her head-first down a staircase when she told him to move out, prosecutors said.

Solomon David Whitt, 25, attacked Jana Lee Layman, 41, on Jan. 10 at their home in West Seattle after she asked him to stop being affectionate to her 10-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, according to King County charging documents obtained by the Seattle Times.

Layman had earlier asked Whitt to “respect boundaries” pertaining to her young children, but he ignored that request, leading Layman to ask that he leave the residence, prosecutors claim.

“[Whitt] was so fearful and anxious at the proposition of moving out of the house and losing his perceived relationship with the victim’s children, that he killed the victim and coldly and calculatedly attempted to cover up the murder,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner wrote.

Whitt — who detectives said was also “upset and angry” about Layman’s new boyfriend possibly taking his place in the youngsters’ lives — attacked her from behind as she left the home for a medical appointment, authorities said.

After wrapping his arm around her neck, Whitt and Layman fell to the ground, where a struggle ensued. Whitt then dragged the victim to a set of basement stairs and shoved her down head first, court documents show.

Whitt allegedly removed Layman’s coat, purses and shoes and scattered them around the house before throwing laundry down the stairs to make it appear as if his housemate had fallen.

Layman’s mother then showed up at home, where Whitt helped the woman look for her daughter before saying that she had “just stepped out” before she arrived. After Layman’s mother left, Whitt went to a nearby Trader Joe’s for lunch and returned to residence to call police, charging documents show.

Whitt told responding cops that he found Layman at the bottom of the stairs, but a sergeant noticed scratches on his arms and redness on his neck, prosecutors allege.

Detectives also found suspicious bruising and a cut on Layman’s neck that were inconsistent with a fall. An autopsy found that she had been strangled, the newspaper reports.

Whitt, who remained held on $2 million bail as of Tuesday, subsequently admitted to killing Layman during an interview with detectives, court documents show. He’s set to be arraigned on a first-degree murder charge on Feb. 6, the newspaper reports.

Layman, a Seattle native, worked as an art teacher at Shorewood Christian School in White Center and taught for the Salvation Army. Her memorial service will be held on Saturday in Seattle, according to her obituary.

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