Two men originally charged with murder in the shooting death of a Tacoma city worker earlier this year could be on the streets tonight after reaching a deal with Pierce County prosecutors.
Manuel Castillo, 20, and Herman Jackson, 29, pleaded guilty this morning to one count each of riot with aggravating circumstances.
They face a standard-range sentence of no jail time to as much as a year in custody when sentenced in July. They could face an exceptional sentence of up to five years if they don’t abide by the terms of their plea agreement.
Castillo and Jackson are expected to testify against co-defendant Olujimi A. Blakeney as part of the deal. That could not be confirmed because Superior Court Commissioner Patrick Oishi temporarily sealed the written plea agreement from public view at the request of deputy prosecutor Jerry Costello.
Defense attorneys Michael Schwartz, who represents Castillo, and Donald Winskill, who represents Jackson, did not object to the record being sealed.
Oishi found it acceptable to seal the documents in the interest of “effective law enforcement” and to protect “individual privacy and safety concerns.”
Costello declined to say anything about the plea deal outside court.
Both Castillo and Jackson faced a minimum of 20 years in prison after being charged as accomplices with first-degree murder in the July 22 homicide of Lisa Marie Melancon, 40.
Oishi today released the men from jail on their personal recognizance pending sentencing. Costello did not object.
Melancon, a code enforcment officer, was shot in the head as she stood on the front porch of her home in the 7200 block of South Bell Street.
Prosecutors contend Blakeney, 25, fired the fatal shot from a car driving away after a confrontation in the neighborhood. Blakeney is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege he acted with extreme indifference to human life when he fired blindly from the car.
He remained at large until Monday when U.S. marshals arrested him in California. He is expected to be extradited to Tacoma soon.
Melancon had gone to the door to call her husband inside when she was hit.
Detectives said Jackson was driving at the time and Castillo was a backseat passenger.
The three had gone to the neighborhood together so Castillo could fight a young man dating one of Melancon’s neighbors, according to court documents.
Castillo admitted to fighting but contended he did not know Blakeney was armed or intended to shoot anyone, according to court records.