A 19-year-old South Seattle gang member was found guilty this morning of assault for a shooting in May that wounded a man who later testified that someone else was the gunman. Police and prosecutors claimed the victim changed his story because he did not want to be viewed as a “snitch.”
The King County Superior Court jury of six men and six found Hailu Mandefero gulty lof three counts: first-degree assault for shooting JaeBrione Gary; second-degree assault for firing a bullet that narrowly missed hitting an employee at a Skyway fast-food restaurant; and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The jury began its deliberations last Tuesday afternoon following two weeks of testimony.
In order to get Gary to testify, prosecutors had him arrested on a material-witness warrant and jailed for two weeks. Once he took the stand, Gary admitted he’d told a King County sheriff’s deputy at the scene that he had been shot by Mandefero. He also testified that he told his mother than Mandefero was the gunman when he awoke the day after the shooting at Harborview Medical Center.
However, during his testimony, Gary tried to pin the shooting on one of Mandefero’s friends. The friend was jailed in June and is awaiting his own trial for an unrelated shooting that critically injured three men in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
In her closing arguments, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Julie Kline said that Gary lied on the stand about the gunman because he didn’t want to be seen as a “snitch.” According to police, the reluctance of some people to participate in the criminal-justice system stems from a gang culture that abhors “snitches” and sees street justice as the preferred way to settle beefs and exact revenge.
Defense attorney Aimee Sutton argued that Mandefero’s friend — who The Seattle Times is not naming because he hasn’t been charged in connection with Gary’s shooting — was the man who shot Gary.