Teen convicted in 'Tuba Man' killing is charged in subsequent robbery
One of three teens convicted of manslaughter in the 2008 killing of Seattle's beloved "Tuba Man" was arrested Wednesday morning and has been charged with robbing another youth of a wallet and music player in January.
Seattle Times staff reporter
One of three teens convicted of manslaughter in the killing of Seattle's beloved "Tuba Man" has been charged in the robbery of another youth, and prosecutors plan to seek an exceptional sentence if he is convicted.
The youth, 16, who was arrested by Seattle police near his home Wednesday morning, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon in King County Juvenile Court to a felony charge of second-degree robbery stemming from a January incident in which a youth was robbed of his wallet and music player outside the Garfield Teen Life Center. Juvenile Court Judge Philip Hubbard Jr. ordered the teen held in custody pending further court proceedings.
The Seattle Times is not naming the teen because he has been charged as a juvenile.
A onetime honors student, the teen pleaded guilty last year to first-degree manslaughter in the death of Ed McMichael, 53, a Seattle fixture known for playing his tuba outside sporting events.
McMichael was pummeled by the teen and two other youths near Seattle Center on Oct. 25, 2008, and died about a week later. All the teens were 15 at the time and had no prior convictions.
The teen now facing the robbery charge admitted punching McMichael and pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in April 2009. He served the maximum term of 36 weeks in juvenile detention and was released July 14 from the Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie, with credit for 168 days served before he was sentenced.
The two other teens served the maximum 72 weeks in detention after pleading guilty to manslaughter and an additional robbery charge stemming from an attack on two teens before the attack on McMichael. One was released in March, and the other will be released Thursday, also with credit for time served before their sentences.
When he announced the teens' guilty pleas in the "Tuba Man" case, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said the law doesn't allow stiffer sentences for juveniles. He said authorities didn't have eyewitnesses that might have allowed them to charge the teens in adult court, where they could seek longer sentences.
He called the sentences "inadequate" and "not enough punishment," but said charging the teens as juveniles was the only way to obtain the guilty pleas.
McMichael's older brother, Kelsey McMichael, who lives in Florida, said in a telephone interview Wednesday night that the newly filed robbery charge against the teen was "probably inevitable."
"He didn't learn from his first mistake, and he is going to keep breaking the law until he is severely punished," said the brother, who attended the sentencing in the manslaughter case with relatives and friends of the "Tuba Man."
"Well, I will tell you, it's sad," he said. "Our feeling right from the time Ed was killed was that these fellows needed more punishment than they received."
But given the limitations of the law, the brother said, "We accepted that."
In the new case, the teen could be sentenced to 15 to 36 weeks of detention if convicted, but prosecutors will ask for an exceptional sentence beyond that range if he's convicted, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office.
Prosecutors consider the allegation that the teen has re-offended to be a "serious matter," Donohoe said.
According to charging papers filed last week, the teen approached another youth at the Garfield Teen Life Center in Seattle's Central Area on Jan. 22 and asked him for $5.
The youth, 17, said he did not have $5 and walked into the center to have his picture taken for the center's identification card, charging papers say.
While waiting to have his picture taken, the youth again was approached by the teen, along with a group of four other juveniles, prosecutors allege.
The teen and the other juveniles asked the 17-year-old for $5 and, after he said he didn't have it, they checked his pockets and one said, "It feels like you have an [iPod] or something in your pocket," the charging papers say. The group then walked away.
The alleged victim went outside the teen center minutes later and was approached by the teen and his associates, who surrounded him, the charging papers say. One reached into the youth's pocket and took his MP3 player, prosecutors allege.
Another person in the group then punched the youth in the mouth while another took his wallet, according to charging papers.
The suspects ran into the center, then left when a teen-center staff worker advised the alleged victim to report the incident to police, the charging papers say.
The teen is the only member of the group to be arrested. The others have not been identified, Donohoe said.
He said charging the teen as an adult in the new case wasn't an option because of his age and the severity of the charge. But the court could maintain jurisdiction over him until he is 21, Donohoe said.
At the time the teen was sentenced in McMichael's killing, his defense attorney called his actions "wholly uncharacteristic" and a probation officer said, "He's a good kid. ... I hope he learned through this tragedy."
In that case, a group of about 10 teens assaulted and robbed two North Seattle high-school students near Seattle Center before they descended on McMichael at a bus stop near Fifth Avenue North and Mercer Street, according to police and court records.
The teen, once described as an honors student at Garfield High School from a stable home, admitted he delivered one unprovoked punch to McMichael's head, knocking the "Tuba Man" down, Satterberg said at the time the guilty pleas were entered.
Others in the mob kicked McMichael and rifled through his pockets as he lay in the fetal position, police said.
McMichael likely died from a single blow to the head, either from a punch that knocked him down or when his head struck the ground after he was hit, Satterberg said when the pleas were announced.
Satterberg said he believed the teen thought he needed to show off because he was not involved directly in robbing the two North Seattle teens.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.
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