Lights & Sirens

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UPDATED: Suspect in custody, baby safe after Amber Alert issued in University Place

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Nov. 1, 2011 at 5:54 am |
November 1, 2011 2:35 pm

2:30 p.m. UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Keisha M. Lewis.

UPDATED at 11:10 a.m.

A man suspected of killing his girlfriend and taking their 9-month-old daughter has been arrested and booked into Pierce County Jail.

Joseph Lester, 23, turned himself in at a Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup overnight. He had his daughter and an attorney with him, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The baby girl is safe and now in state protective custody.

“She was all smiles at the hospital,” Troyer said. “She was smiling and laughing.”

Lester was booked into Pierce County Jail just after 2:15 a.m. today on suspicion of first-degree murder. He will likely not have his first court appearance until Wednesday.

The father and daughter were the focus of an Amber Alert on Monday night after the 21-year-old girlfriend was fatally stabbed outside a University Place home. The alert was canceled shortly after Lester turned himself in.

Investigators say Lester and his girlfriend fought in the front yard of the home in the 6000 block of 57th Avenue West. She was stabbed several times and died in the kitchen of the home, with her toddler-aged son and godmother nearby.

The son has since been placed in protective custody. It wasn’t clear Monday night what he saw.

Family members reported the victim was pregnant.

Lester’s mother, Cassandra Spencer, said on Tuesday that she’s been caring for the couple’s 9-month-old daughter since she was born.

Lester and his girlfriend had been spending more time with the baby girl and had her Monday.

“We don’t know what happened,” Spencer said. “I know they had their problems but not to this extent.”

Spencer said her son did not kidnap his daughter.

“Joseph had the baby regardless,” Spencer said.

Lester was booked into jail on a murder charge, not a kidnapping charge. Troyer said it will be up to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office to decide what charges to file against Lester.

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