Gig Harbor man convicted of fatally beating his girlfriend

A Pierce County jury on Wednesday found a Gig Harbor man guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of his girlfriend.

William Barry Selley, 43, is to be sentenced Jan. 16.

Deputy prosecutors alleged Selley beat Kathryn Southward, 29, at the couple’s house in September 2012. He originally was charged with first-degree assault, but prosecutors upgraded the charges to second-degree murder when Southward later died of her injuries.

Selley denied hitting Southward, contending she must have suffered her fatal injuries during a series of falls while drunk.

The case began Sept. 27, 2012, when Selley called 911 to report Southward was ill and needed medical assistance.

He told investigators he and Southward had been drinking heavily several days before and that Southward had fallen numerous times since then, hitting her head in the process.

Her condition worsened as the days passed, but Selley said he did not take Southward to the hospital because they did not have health insurance, court records show.

Investigators said Southward was covered in bruises and had three broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung and other internal injuries. The Medical Examiner’s Office determined she died of blunt-force trauma and ruled her death a homicide.