March 5, 2013 at 11:05 AM
‘Tuba Man’ killer pleads guilty to federal firearms charge
Billy Chambers, who as a teenager was convicted of the beating death of Ed “Tuba Man” McMichael, has agreed to a plea deal in an unrelated case that will put him in federal prison for six years after being caught in possession of a firearm.
Chambers, 20, was caught last October driving a car that was reportedly involved in a vehicle burglary. Police found a Bushmaster AR-15 assault-style rifle in the trunk of the car. Court documents say that rifle was reported stolen in a residential burglary in 2010.
Chambers later told police that he had agreed to drive two friends to a “house where they ‘sell guns’” so his friends could steal firearms.
Under federal firearms law, Chambers — as a convicted felon — was not allowed to be in the vicinity of weapons. Merely being in the car with the rifle put him in what the law calls “constructive possession” of the weapon.
Chambers was just 15 when he and two friends attacked McMichael in October 2008, robbing and beating him so badly that his injuries eventually claimed his life. He was mourned by thousands who knew him as a fixture outside Seattle sporting events.
Chambers and the two other juveniles pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. The sentences for Chambers and the two others outraged many in the community. Because no witnesses came forward, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said his office was forced to charge the teens as juveniles instead of seeking to have them charged as adults, which would have carried a longer sentence.
Since then, Chambers has been in trouble time and again, being arrested for robbery, assault and burglary among other crimes. His status as a juvenile had made it difficult for state prosecutors to obtain much prison time.
However, in pleading guilty to a federal count of being a felon in possession of a firearm will result in his incarceration in an out-of-state federal prison, and be subject to three years of supervised release when he gets out.
While the plea agreement states both the defense and U.S. Attorney’s Office will recommend a six-year sentence, they acknowledge that U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik is not bound by it. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.
Sentencing is set for May 31 before Lasnik.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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