News

Teen pleads innocent to killing deputy's son

By ERICA HALL

Mirror staff

A Federal Way teenager pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge stemming from the March 7 fatal stabbing of a King County deputy’s son near Federal Way.

Nikolay V. Sloboda, 17, a former Decatur High student, will be tried as an adult in King County Superior Court. He’s being held on $1 million bail at the King County Jail. A case-setting hearing is scheduled for May 17.

According to police, Michael Behm, 18, and his friend Richard Walden were stopped in Behm’s car at 23rd Avenue and Emerald Street in Milton when Sloboda, who was also stopped at the intersection with Ilya V. Melnik, 17, and their girlfriends in his car, challenged Behm to race.

Walden told police the two drivers raced, and then Sloboda followed Behm’s car to Behm’s neighborhood near South 370th Street and 28th Avenue South in unincorporated King County, where Sloboda drove up alongside him and began yelling for him to stop. Sloboda and Behm got out of their cars and confronted one another, according to charging papers, and Walden and Melnik got out of the cars to watch.

According to Walden and the girlfriends, the decision to fight appeared to be mutual, though accounts differed between the girls and Walden over how the fight continued once Behm and Sloboda were on the ground. Sloboda’s girlfriend told police he asked her to throw him the knife he kept in his car and she did.

Walden told police Sloboda squared off toward Behm with the knife in his hand and Behm began to back away. Sloboda allegedly swung the knife and stabbed Behm in the right shoulder, according to charging papers. Behm began to run, with Sloboda chasing him.

As the two were running off, Melnik asked his girlfriend to release the trunk of Sloboda’s car, according to police, from which he grabbed a car jack and began attacking Walden. Walden told police he was able to dodge Melnik’s attacks using Melnik’s girlfriend as a shield long enough to get into Behm’s car and leave to find Behm. As he was leaving, Melnik threw the car jack through the passenger window, according to charging papers.

Melnik has been charged with second-degree assault for attacking Walden. His case will be heard in juvenile court.

Walden told police he couldn’t find Behm his first time down 28th Avenue South, so he returned to the scene. He found everyone had left, so he drove down 28th Avenue South again and saw Behm lying on the shoulder of the road in the grass.

He called 9-1-1 on Behm’s cell phone. A sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office was the first to arrive at the scene, and he and Walden performed CPR on Behm until fire department medics arrived. According to an autopsy, Behm had been stabbed in the chest, shoulder and arm. One of the punctures had pierced his rib cartilage and sliced his aorta and pulmonary artery. Behm bled to death at the scene.

Sloboda’s girlfriend told police the teens drove to a Twin Lakes drug store to wash the blood off their hands and the knife. They then went to a friend’s house, where they slept until later in the morning, according to charging papers.

Sloboda’s girlfriend told police she learned on the news the next day Behm had died, and she said Sloboda became concerned. He went home and parked his car in the garage and removed several exterior parts to change the car’s appearance, police said. He hid a spoiler under her bed.

Sloboda and Melnik later fled the state in Melnik’s car.

King County police put out a bulletin with a description of the vehicle and the boys. A state trooper in Warren County, Missouri recognized them when he pulled them over for a traffic violation and took the teens into custody. They were later extradited to Washington.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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