A member of the Nooksack Tribe has pleaded guilty in federal court to second-degree murder for killing a 68-year-old man with an ax during a burglary last October.
Levi Eugene Charles, 26, admitted that he killed Sauk-Suiattle Tribal member Kenneth Joseph Oct. 23, 2012, after Joseph awoke while Charles was burglarizing his house on the Lummi reservation. Charles said he beat Joseph unconscious with a miniature baseball bat he had found at the home, and then struck him in the head and face with an ax, killing him.
Federal prosecutors say Charles threw a blanket over the body and then hung blankets on the windows in an effort to hide the crime. He stole a television and other items, but abandoned the TV at the end Joseph’s driveway. He allegedused used Joseph’s debit card to withdraw $420 from his banking account. Charles was arrested on Oct. 29, 2012.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the government and Charles’ attorneys have agreed to seek a sentence of between 22 and 27 years in prison when Charles is sentenced on August 2, 2013. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones in Seattle is not bound by the recommendation and can impose any sentence up to the maximum allowed by law: a life prison term.
Charles was prosecuted in U.S. District Court because the crime occurred on sovereign tribal land where state law enforcement has no jurisdiction.