The last time 19-year-old Billy Chambers went to prison, he served roughly two-thirds of a 22-month sentence for ramming a woman’s car.
It was just the latest in a string of revolving-door trips in and out of detention, jail and finally state prison for Chambers, who has a long criminal history, but is perhaps best known for his role in the 2008 beating death of Ed “Tuba Man” McMichael.
On Friday, Chambers graduated to a new level of trouble – and is a facing serious prison time – after being charged in U.S. District Court with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a 10-year prison sentence and up to five years of supervised release when he gets out.
To read the charge, click here.
Chambers was targeted by a cross-designated state-federal prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Hobbs, who reviews every firearms arrest in King County and determines which case should be taken into the federal system. The difference in sentences is stark: A state conviction for a felon being caught with a gun rarely exceeds three years, according to prosecutors.
The federal charge stems from Chambers’ arrest on Oct. 3. King County sheriff’s deputies stopped a car Chambers was driving near Southwest 150th Street and First Avenue South in Burien after someone reported that he and a companion had stolen items out of a vehicle, according to a probable-cause statement outlining the police case.
Deputies discovered a rifle in the trunk, the statement says.
Since spending nearly 18 months at Maple Lane School in Centralia for McMichael’s death and another robbery on the same night, Chambers has been arrested at least five times and convicted of crimes on two separate occasions. Because he’s a felon, Chambers cannot possess firearms.
Chambers’ arrest in Burien came just two weeks after his release from the Monroe Correctional Complex after serving a portion of his sentence for an attempted second-degree-assault charge. Chambers pleaded guilty to the charge in October 2011, admitting that he deliberately rammed a woman’s car in June 2011 after she reported him to police for an earlier car prowl.
In July 2010, Chambers, then 17, and two other teens were arrested and charged with robbing a man at gunpoint in downtown Seattle. Chambers later pleaded guilty to first-degree theft and was sentenced to eight months in juvenile detention.
Chambers was one of three juveniles who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the October 2008 fatal beating of McMichael, known for playing his tuba outside Seattle sporting events. Chambers was 15 when the attack occurred.
The sentences for Chambers and the two other youths outraged many in the community. Because no witnesses came forward, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said, his office was forced to charge the three teens as juveniles instead of seeking to have them charged as adults, which would have carried a longer sentence.