News

Clinton murder suspect will be charged as an accomplice

The Clinton woman arrested last week in the slaying of a Bellingham resident is being charged with first-degree murder, but authorities now say she may be an accomplice and not the killer.

Bellingham Police arrested Kara Jo Buchanan, 40, last Thursday in Freeland after she left a message on a detective’s voice mail confessing to the killing. Police also recovered a shotgun from Buchanan’s home.

Keayn Dunya, the victim’s estranged husband and Buchanan’s boyfriend, is also being charged with murder in the first degree and appears to have been his wife’s killer.

“It seems they were both involved, but he pulled the trigger,” Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney David McEachran said Friday afternoon.

Buchanan is considered complicit in the premeditated murder, which is essentially the same as if she’d committed the crime herself, McEachran said.

Kriston A. Dunya was found dead in her apartment of a gunshot wound to the chest July 5 by a co-worker who went to check on her after she didn’t arrive for work.

Surveillance videos show a man matching Keayn Dunya’s appearance carrying a long-barreled shotgun outside his wife’s apartment the night she was believed to have been killed, according to charging documents filed by McEachran.

Videos showed Dunya exiting and entering a vehicle identified as belonging to Buchanan, but she did not appear to be in the car, authorities said.Dunya and his wife were going through an “acrimonious divorce” and were battling for custody of their 7-year-old son, Kai, according to court documents.

In the confession she left on a detective’s voicemail, Buchanan said, “I wanted to let you know it was me. She threatened to take Kai away from Keayn, and I wanted a family after my husband abandoned me.”

Buchanan’s husband verified they were separated and told police his wife had called him prior to the murder and asked how to load a shotgun, according to court documents.

Buchanan’s husband later told detectives she said she wanted to know how to load the weapon because she was afraid of Dunya.

The couple’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 22, and their trial will begin no earlier than September, according to McEachran.

“We’ll be ready to start Sept. 12,” he said. “But it would be very unusual for it to happen on the first trial date.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.