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Men plead guilty to reduced charges in death of Tacoma code enforcement officer

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on Dec. 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm with 16 Comments »
December 22, 2010 12:51 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. justin_yorbum says:

    Unacceptable!

  2. surveyor1 says:

    Jeeze. So what are they going to give the shooter? Two years?
    And I wonder what the odds of these two sticking around for sentencing are? Probably not to good!

  3. chip98404 says:

    A total travesty…

  4. DAKOTANATIVE says:

    There is no way these guys will fail to appear unless they are taken out by friends of the guy they are ratting out. They have nothing to lose by appearing. At the worst, they will get a couple months, and then be free. I am sure it is safe to say that these 2 were not armed, and had no choice but to flee with the guy that did have a weapon. This is nothing close to the idiot that drove Clemmons to the scene knowing exactly what Clemmons intended to do.

  5. royboy361 says:

    This sucks!
    Don’t let them out!

  6. purplechick says:

    We need the justice dept. to change and punish these dirtbags like they need to be punished. Why do you think there is so much crime now a days because they don’t have anything happen to them. They have free room and board for a few months.
    Then they are free to do what they want to do.
    I am so sick of hearing this news, I think all three of them deserve to rot in jail and do hard time like be put to work.

  7. This is not an acceptable sentence for this crime! They went to that house with the intention of hurting someone since their little girl was having a fight with some other little girl. They are just as accountable and responsible for the loss of this life as the moron who pulled the trigger (even more of a moron for going to Cali!!!). So if this is all they are going to charged with, all I can say is they will meet the ultimate judge when their time comes, and he will deal them the ultimate punishment for their sins.

  8. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Demonstrating our known sick judicial system – shot while resisting arrest would have saved the courts time & money!! The added benefit would be the improvement to the human gene pool!!

  9. zatkattack says:

    Typical Washington state justice. That’s why we’re in the “fear factor” that we’re in today. Everybody packs guns. I hope Winskill and Schwartz live close to these clowns….If anything bad happens, may their families suffer the consequences….

  10. Way to set a precedence. It is sickening. I hope to see an investigation of this decision. Weren’t Oishi and Costello around last year? Did they not get the message that Washington State residents are sick and tired of being hung out to dry as criminals are given slaps on the hand? I just wonder how they would feel had it been their wife or girlfriend that was shot; God forbid that should happen, but I just wonder. I guess we need to make Washington State a “No Plea-Deal” state.

  11. Oh wait. I see Oishi must be in the holiday spirit; see article:
    Woman pleads guilty to aiding suspected killers of Edgewood dad. He let her out, too. I think they should all go out and have a party at his house.

  12. Newty2727 says:

    This is disgusting and unacceptable!

  13. frankiethomas says:

    Well, good thing they sealed the deal so no one would know they are going to testify agains t the shooter, D’OH!

  14. BlaineCGarver says:

    No liberty, freedom, or justice going on here. Maybe a little street karma will happen to even things out a might.

  15. tntsoundoff says:

    Totally unacceptable. I can’t believe the trend with the prosecutors office. Where is accountability, both for the criminals and for the people charged with putting offenders away!!??

  16. tntsoundoff says:

    “Costello declined to say anything about the plea deal outside court.” Love this! The Tribune reporters are doing their job, asking tough questions, and Deputy Prosecutor Jerry Costello declines to answer. He declines. If there’s any accountability in that office, then let it be known! What’s wrong, Mr. Costello? Can’t find a jury? Can’t afford to go to trial? This is chicken scratch, and it stinks. These sub-human forms of life has the potential ability to walk the streets tonight, after running/hiding and being complicit in actions that lead to the murder of a completely innocent bystander. This “deal” is abhorrent. Shame on the Prosecutors office.

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