Pierce County prosecutors have charged a 35-year-old man with first-degree murder in the death of a Lakewood resident who in January became the city’s first homicide victim in more than a year.
A not guilty plea was entered Wednesday on behalf of Mario Marshawn Steele in the fatal shooting of Lenard Masten, 39.
Masten died Jan. 16 after being gunned down on a sidewalk outside an apartment complex in the 5500 block of Chicago Avenue Southwest.
Prosecutors wrote in charging papers that Steele called Masten on behalf of an acquaintance he knows as “Dre,” who was angry with the victim for selling him fake drugs earlier in the day.
“Steele believed ‘Dre’ would either rob or assault Mr. Masten,” court records show. “Steele admitted he set up this meeting, and phone records confirm there was a brief call between Steele’s phone and Mr. Masten’s phone minutes before the murder.”
Witnesses reported seeing two men confront Masten then one of them going through his clothes after he fell to the ground, court records show. The second man has not been formally identified or charged.