SEATTLE -- A local laser eye surgeon now faces up to 41 years in prison for plotting to kill his business partner.
On Thursday, jurorsreached a guilty verdict in the murder-for-hire case involving the two doctors who founded Renton-based Clearly Lasik.
Dr. Michael Mockovak was convicted of solicitation to commit first degree murder, for trying to recruit a fellow employee to help him hire a Russian hit man to kill his partner, Dr. Joseph King.
He also was accused of doing the same with a former company president, Brad Klock, but the jury acquitted Mockovak of that charge.
Jurors said they spent two days debating over what they called the swing point.
In the tapes, Dr. [Mockovak] at one point says, 'It doesn't matter about Brad anymore, let's talk about Joe. Brad's just a fly on the wall,' said juror Stephanie Delaney. And we came back to that over and over and over again.
Mockovak also was found guilty of attempted murder in the first degree, conspiracy to commit theft in the first degree and attempted theft in the first degree.The latter arerelated to accusations that, as a beneficiary of King's life insurance policy, Mockovak stood to collect millions of dollars in King's death.
King is also Mockovak's neighbor and the brother-in-law of his ex-wife.
According to prosecutors, the doctors were trying to split the business. They say Mockovak was not happy with a potential settlement and offered to pay another employee, whom he believed had ties to the Russian mafia, to hire a hit man.
That employee, Daniel Kultin,went to the FBI. Together, they crafted a plan to convince Mockovak to pay a would-be assassin $25,000 for the killing, according to the charging documents.
In November 2009, Mockovak and Kultin met in Tukwila. A hidden video camera caught the doctor paying Kultin $10,000 in cash and giving him a photo of King, said prosecutors.
Mockovak was arrested five days later.
Delaney said the defense tried to convince the jury that Mockovak was never serious about the hit until authorities pushed him into it, that there had been so much persuasion, and there had been too much persuasion and that Dr. [Mockovak] would not have done this otherwise. And we just were not persuaded.
According to the probable cause statement, Clearly Lasik has a $5 million life insurance policy on Dr. King, of which Dr. Mockovak believed he would get half.
After the jury announced the verdict, Mockovak gave no response or comment as he was led out of the courtroom.
King was not present in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, but colleagues texted him the moment they heard the verdict.
King released the following statement through Clearly Lasik:
My colleagues, my family and I are relieved to put this sad episode behind us. I would like to thank the law enforcement officials and prosecutors for all their work on this case. Additionally, I want to express my appreciation to the community for the tremendous support we've received over the past 15 months.
Sentencing for Mockovak is scheduled for March 17 at 1:30 p.m.