Tuba Man killer charged as adult in robbery case

Tuba Man killer charged as adult in robbery case
SEATTLE -- Billy G. Chambers, the 17-year-old who was previously convicted for killing "Tuba Man" Edward McMichael, was charged Wednesday with first-degree robbery for a Saturday morning incident -- a charged that could bring a 51- to 58-month prison term.

Two other alleged accomplices, Martin A. Harris, 17, and Malikah K. Kaashif, 18, were also charged as adults with first-degree robbery. McMichael was known for his years of playing outside Seattle sports events, and Chambers served 72 weeks for his killing.

Suspects age 16 and 17 can be declined from the juvenile system when accused of violent crimes.

An officer described Chambers as dangerous and "an active gang member," police wrote in a probable cause document released Monday. The teen also was arrested May 10 in Seattle for fighting and has a Sept. 3 court date for that case, according to court documents.

A woman who answered the phone at his home did not comment early Wednesday evening, saying comment should come from Chambers' grandmother, but said of course there was another side to Chambers' story.

Reached later Wednesday, his grandmother said she didn't have time to comment. Asked when she did have time, the woman hung up.

Chambers' arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 10 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

On Saturday -- two days after prosecutors say Chambers' home monitoring ended after being arrested as a passenger in a stolen vehicle -- police believe he and the two alleged accomplices were downtown. They approached a male asking for bus fare about 5:50 a.m. and Chambers displayed a cigarette lighter that looked like a gun, police said.

Harris, a Chief Sealth High School student, fled with $200 and Chambers had 23.3 grams of marijuana when the group was arrested near Sixth Avenue and Seneca Street, according to officers.

In juvenile court Monday, Chambers sat slumped in a chair. He said nothing. Family did not address the judge; his girlfriend arrived late.

In the Monday afternoon juvenile court detention review, Pro Tem Juvenile Court Judge Johanna Bender agreed the 17-year-old is a risk of violence to the community and ordered he remain in detention.

Before McMichael's assault in October 2008, Chambers and two other convicted attackers had joined other youths at Seattle Center for a gathering related to a homecoming dance. Prosecutors assert they became part of a roving group of teens that set about making mayhem. Investigators claimed the teens also robbed another man that night.

Prosecutors had attempted to move the earlier robbery case against the boys -- all 15 at the time of the crime -- to King County Superior Court, where they would have been tried as adults and face much stiffer penalties.

That effort was denied when a juvenile court judge ruled against the motion.

Chambers is the second of the three teens convicted for McMichael's killing to be arrested for investigation of a subsequent robbery.

Attack on Tuba Man

On Oct. 25, 2008, McMichael was near a bus stop in the 500 block of Mercer Street when a group of teens started beating him. The musician was punched so hard that he fell and hit his head on the concrete.

Someone grabbed his wallet, and his 1979 Sonics NBA World Championship ring -- a gift to McMichael from a friend -- was taken off his left hand, police said. He was left bleeding in the street.

The 53-year-old was taken to Harborview Medical Center and released to recover at his Vermont Inn apartment. McMichael died of brain trauma as a result of the attack Nov. 3, 2008.

Chambers and the two others pleaded guilty in April 2009 to first-degree manslaughter.

Police and prosecutors asked on several occasions for witnesses to come forward, but found no one willing to testify at trial. The reluctance of roughly a dozen witnesses was "one of the most chilling parts of this entire story," King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said at the time.

In court, McMichael's brother, Kelsey, asked the teens receive only the agreed-upon sentencing recommendations: 15 to 36 weeks for the teen now accused in the January robbery and twice that length for the other two, including Chambers.

In the months since the teens' conviction, Kelsey McMichael has said it seems Washington's law is too lenient.

August trial for other teen

The first of McMichael's killers rearrested, now 16, has been charged as a juvenile in a Jan. 22 robbery near the Garfield Teen Life Center. Seattlepi.com does not typically name juveniles or suspects until they're charged as adults.

The 16-year-old asked another teen for $5 and was denied, police said. Prosecutors claim that teen and four others approached the victim again later and group members turned out his pockets.

Police say the teens surrounded the victims after he walked outside the teen center at 428 23rd Ave.

"One of them went into (his) pocket and took his MP3 player," Detective Mikel W. Rideaus wrote in court documents. "Someone else then punched (the victim) in his mouth, and another person took his wallet."

The assailants then ran back into the teen center, according to police. A staff member there advised the victim to report the incident to police.

In juvenile court, second-degree robbery carries a range of 15 to 36 weeks detention -- a range set by the Legislature. A spokesman for Satterberg said prosecutors don't believe they have the basis for an adult prosecution, but plans to seek an exceptional sentence if the 16-year-old is convicted.

The third teen convicted in McMichael's case has not been arrested for a Seattle crime, police said.

Announcing the three teens' guilty pleas last year, Satterberg called the sentence -- a range the Legislature set -- unsatisfactory. Prosecutors told McMichael's family they expected at least one of the three teens to reoffend.

seattlepi.com is a media partner of KOMO News.