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The Blotter

The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

September 16, 2011 at 3:31 PM

'Tuba Man' killer facing prison after hit-and-run plea

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan



SEATTLE TIMES FILE PHOTO

Billy Chambers during an earlier court hearing.

Billy Chambers, who was convicted as a juvenile of the 2008 slaying of Seattle street musician Ed "Tuba Man" McMichael, pleaded guilty Friday to deliberately crashing into a woman's car.

Chambers, 18, was arrested by Seattle police earlier this year after a woman said that he intentionally struck her car on June 23. Chambers pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault and hit and run in King County Superior Court.

Prosecutors said they are seeking a sentence of a year and a half in prison when he is sentenced. A sentencing date has not been set.

"The plea entered by the defendant will send him to prison and count as his first strike," said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecutor's Office. "Under state law, juvenile convictions do not count as strikable offenses."

Prosecutors say that Chambers struck the woman's car and ran her off the road because she had filed a police report against him after an earlier car prowl.

Chambers is accused of rear-ending the woman's car while it was stopped for a traffic light at 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street in the Central Area. The woman told police that as she tried to drive away the same car followed in the next lane and swerved toward the passenger side of her car, causing her to leave the roadway and strike a tree, according to charging paperwork. The woman was not hurt.

She told officers that she recognized the driver of the mid-1990s Ford Crown Victoria that hit her. She said that she had reported him to police about a week earlier after he allegedly broke into her car, according to charging paperwork.

Police located the Crown Victoria parked outside Chambers' home and were allowed inside. When Chambers was arrested he told police that he had been sleeping all day and that someone else had been using his car.

"The defendant was angry at the victim for filing a police report against him," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Montgomery wrote in charging documents. "While it is fortunate that no occupants of the car or pedestrians were injured, it does not lessen the risk that the defendant's violent actions could harm someone."

Montgomery said that Chambers has prior convictions as an adult for first- and third-degree theft. And juvenile convictions for first-degree manslaughter, second-degree robbery and possession of stolen property, Montgomery wrote.

Chambers, who was 15 when he and two other boys were prosecuted in McMichael's slaying, spent about 18 months at Maple Lane School in Centralia in connection with McMichael's death and another robbery on the same night in October 2008.

The sentences for Chambers and the two other youths who fatally beat McMichaels 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.

For 20 years, McMichael, 53, was a fixture at Mariners, Sonics and Seahawks' games and around the Seattle Center -- trading his talent for spare change.

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