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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

May 31, 2013 at 9:26 AM

‘Tuba Man’ killer gets 6 years in prison for firearms charge

Billy Chambers, who as a teenager was involved in the beating death of Ed “Tuba Man” McMichael, was sentenced this morning to six years in federal prison for an unrelated firearms charge.

Chambers, who pleaded guilty in March to a federal count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, will also face three years of supervised release when he gets out of prison. In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend the six-year sentence.

Chambers, 20, apologized and said he took “full responsibility” for his crime. He promised U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik that he would use the time in prison to turn his life around so he could raise his son once he’s released. Lasnik acknowledged that Chambers had a horrific childhood, but said that was not an excuse.

“It’s not going to be easy for you. Life moves on,” said Lasnik, who noted that if Chambers committed another crime he would be facing 10 or 20 years in prison. “You get to write the next chapter,” the judge said.

In letters sent to Lasnik before this morning’s sentencing hearing, Chambers and his grandmother, Margaret Harris, both attributed his troubles with the law to a childhood of neglect, rejection and physical abuse at the hands of his felon father, who was imprisoned when Chambers was 3. Chambers’ mother abandoned him and his sister, who lived with Harris until he was “about 13,” when he was sent to live with his father, who had just gotten out of prison.

“He was very abusive to me,” Chambers wrote. “He would beat me so bad like I was a random person on the streets.”

Chambers was arrested on Oct. 3 by King County sheriff’s deputies who stopped a car he was driving in Burien after someone reported the vehicle had been involved in a car prowl, according to charging documents. In the trunk, deputies found a Bushmaster AR-15 assault-style rifle that was reported stolen in a residential burglary in 2010.

Under federal firearms law, Chambers — as a felon — is not allowed to be in the vicinity of weapons. Merely being in the car put him in what the law calls “constructive possession” of the weapon.

Chambers was just 15 when he and two friends attacked McMichael, robbing and beating him so badly that his injuries eventually claimed his life. McMichael, 53, was  a fixture outside Seattle sporting events, where he often played a tuba.

Chambers, who was convicted of manslaughter in juvenile court, spent nearly 18 months at Maple Lane School in Centralia for McMichael’s death and another robbery on the same night. Since then, he has been arrested at least five times and convicted of crimes on two separate occasions.

Chambers was released from the Monroe Correctional Complex on Sept. 18 after serving a portion of his sentence for attempted second-degree-assault. 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.

Another teen convicted of manslaughter in McMichael’s death, Ja’Mari Alexander-Alan Jones, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with a fatal Christmas Eve shooting at Munchbar, a restaurant/bar in Bellevue Square. Jones has pleaded not guilty.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: felon in possession of a firearm, Tuba Man, U.S. Attorney's Office

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