Former Enumclaw local Kevin Jokumsen is now a free man.
Jokumsen, 56, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing his wife, Donna Mae (Douglas) Jokumsen, in 1987, but at least partially due to a lack of evidence — including a body — he remained uncharged until 2017.
It appears a lack of evidence was the Achilles’ heel of the prosecution, as Jokumsen’s attorneys successfully motioned on Oct. 29 for what’s known as a “directed verdict”; in layman’s terms, asking a judge to “decide the case in the defendant’s favor because the plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence to prove the case against the defendant,” reads the Arizona courts website.
With Judge Ronda Fisk of the Arizona Maricopa County Superior Court granting the motion, Jokumsen was officially acquitted and was released from custody almost immediately.
Unsurprisingly, the state of Arizona disagreed with the motion, arguing that sufficient evidence of Jokumsen’s guilt had been presented to at least go forward with a court case, if not prove him guilty.
In its response to the motion for a directed verdict, the state reiterated Jokumsen and Douglas had what could be generously called a rocky relationship; in the mid-1980s, the Enumclaw Police Department was involved in three domestic violence incidents between the two. Records were no longer available to review, and Jokumsen and Douglas’ families disagree who was the instigator and who was the victim in these incidents, but Jokumsen was charged once for violating a no-contact order (the charge was later dropped).
One of these incidents led to Douglas starting the divorce process in 1986, but it was never completed, and the couple decided to move to Arizona to get a fresh start in January 1987.
However, the state alleges violence against Douglas continued, and in July 4, 1987, she went to a friend’s workplace at midnight with a split lip and red marks on her neck.
According to the state and Douglas’ friends, Douglas stayed most of the weekend with them, only going home once to switch what car she was driving and get money for a U-haul. Douglas’ friends said she was planning to leave Jokumsen; Jokumsen said Douglas told him she was planning on returning to Washington for the summer because she didn’t do well in the summer heat and was discouraged when Douglas couldn’t find a job she went to school for.
Douglas then returned to her friends’ place and spent a few more hours with them before deciding to pick up her two children, some clothes, and then return before taking off to Washington in the morning.
This was the last time anyone saw Douglas alive; her car was found at her and Jokumsen’s house, but Jokumsen said he had no idea how the car got back or where Douglas could have gone.
Both Jokumsen and Douglas’ children were safe with Jokumsen, as it appears Douglas never picked them up to go to Washington.
Douglas’ parents called investigators a few days later, as they also appeared to know of Douglas’ plan to leave Jokumsen, but became worried when she never showed.
The state also argued Jokumsen harbored ill will toward Douglas in regard to her reportedly being into drinking and marijuana, spending too much time with her friends/not enough time with her family, and being financially irresponsible. Additionally, Jokumsen allegedly lied to investigators about the history of reported domestic violence and the fact that, a month after her disappearance, Jokumsen lied to detectives about pawning Douglas’ jewelry.
All in all, the state believed a jury could draw enough reasonable inferences from these facts for a judge to deny the motion of directed verdict.
But with Judge Fisk granting the motion for directed verdict, the case against Jokumsen has been closed for the third, and final, time, an acquittal means the state of Arizona can’t appeal the judge’s ruling, nor can Jokumsen be tried for the same crime a second time.
Jeanne Jokumsen, his mother, called The Courier-Herald minutes afterward to deliver the news.
“Thank god, the truth came out,” she said.
Contact information for Douglas’ parents couldn’t be found before deadline.