West Richland man charged with the strangling death of his former co-worker

A West Richland man pleaded innocent Thursday to allegations he killed a former co-worker.

Three of Alisa J. Brewer’s loved ones stood in the front row of the courtroom to face her accused killer, William C. Lee, when he briefly appeared before a judge.

Lee, 24, has been locked up since he called 911 early Sunday and reportedly said he’d killed her.

Lee told a dispatcher he had strangled the 53-year-old woman, he was positive she was dead, and his “fingerprints were all over (Brewer’s) neck and that there was no getting out of this,” according to court documents.

While on the phone with the dispatcher for about 45 minutes, Lee also said he had a gun and was going to kill himself, documents said.

Lee was charged Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court with second-degree murder.

The documents claim there was no premeditation involved, but that Lee intended to cause the death of Brewer by strangling her.

There is an alternative second-degree murder charge alleging Lee assaulted Brewer and her death was a result of that assault.

His trial is scheduled Feb. 4.

Social media and professional networking sites for Brewer and Lee show that both of them had worked for Barnhart Crane & Rigging, which has a branch office in Richland.

Brewer lived in Pasco.

Police responded to Lee’s apartment at 71 S. 39th Ave. at 1:20 a.m. Sunday after his 911 call.

Lee eventually surrendered following lengthy talks with dispatchers and a Tri-City Regional SWAT team negotiator.

Officers found Brewer on the floor, and noted that it appeared she had been pulled from the bedroom into the hallway, court documents said.

A leather belt was tightened around her neck.

An autopsy done Tuesday confirmed that Brewer died from strangulation. She also had injuries to her head, face and neck, and bruises to her arms, wrists and hands.

Lee remains in jail on $500,000 bail.

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Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.