Pitre gets 40 more years in ex-wife's murder

As soon as Roland Augustin Pitre Jr. is done serving 14 more years for a botched kidnapping attempt on his stepson, he will start on another 40 for the murder of his ex-wife, a Port Orchard woman beaten and stuffed in the trunk of her car 15 years ago.

Pitre was sentenced in King County Superior Court on Thursday to 479 months in connection with the 1988 death of Cheryl Pitre after pleading guilty to first-degree murder charges last month.

According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Dan Donohoe, 40 years was the amount his office recommended, and Pitre will serve the time consecutively.

Pitre, 51, who is already serving at least 25 years in prison after attempting to kidnap his stepson in Bremerton in 1993, filed an Alford plea — maintaining his innocence but conceding a jury would probably convict him — in February after King County prosecutors accused him of hiring prison acquaintance Frederick James McKee to kill the mother of his two young children.

Cheryl Pitre was 33 when she disappeared on Oct. 15, 1988, after her Saturday night shift at P.J.’s Market on Mile Hill Drive.

A day later, a man found her purse floating in Lake Union, just north of downtown Seattle, and on Oct. 20 police discovered her bound and beaten body in the trunk of her car that was parked nearby.

Although detectives from both the Kitsap County Sheriff’s and Seattle Police Departments quickly suspected Pitre was involved in his ex-wife’s death, charges were not filed until January of this year when a witness came forward linking Pitre and the alleged hitman, McKee, 45, to the crime.

According to the witness, Pitre agreed to give McKee — whom Pitre met on McNeil Island after being convicted of hiring a man to kill his mistress’ husband in 1980 — several thousand dollars to kill Cheryl after he convinced her to name him sole beneficiary in both a new will and a $100,000 life insurance policy by June of 1988, although the pair had already divorced.

Two weeks after McKee got out of prison in October, the witness claimed Pitre took McKee to the hardware store to buy rope and duct tape, then showed him where his ex-wife lived.

McKee then allegedly kidnapped Cheryl when she returned home from work Oct. 15, tying her up and putting her in the trunk of her car before beating her to death.

Based on that witness’ testimony, investigator’s tested DNA evidence found on the duct tape used on the dead woman’s limbs that allegedly connected McKee to her homicide.

When questioned again in prison recently, Pitre admitted he hatched the scheme with McKee, but claimed he had always planned to step in and save her life in a grand gesture he said he hoped would win her back.

According to the pre-sentencing documents filed in Kitsap County Superior Court after Pitre was convicted of first-degree burglary and conspiring to kidnap his stepson from his Bremerton apartment, Pitre claimed that crime was also an elaborate scheme to win back his second wife’s affections after separating from her, and that he never meant to harm the teenager.

McKee — currently serving 12 years in Walla Walla State Penitentiary for manufacturing methamphetamine — was also charged last month, but pleaded innocent to the first-degree murder charge.

McKee’s next court appearance is a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

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