The first of five defendants in a Dec. 24 stabbing and robbery was sentenced in Thurston County Superior Court Thursday to eight years in prison.
Lacey resident Aaron M. Simpson, 19, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance before Judge James Dixon. The other defendants — Krista M. Hughes, Joshua O. Kimbrough, Arrin D. Salter Jr. and Eric R. Ford — are awaiting trial.
Simpson had previously been charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and first degree assault — all with weapons enhancements — in addition to two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, and one count of possession of a controlled substance. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Jackson estimated that Simpson could have faced a 40-year sentence had he gone to trial for those charges.
But because of complications with victim testimony, he found it appropriate to offer Simpson a plea deal with the lesser charges, Jackson said.
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The stabbing victim, for example, wasn’t sure which of the defendants had stabbed him, Jackson said. He was also difficult to contact — as were the other victims.
Dixon said the situation isn’t uncommon in drug-related cases.
According to court documents, Thurston County Sheriff’s deputies and Lacey police responded to reports of an assault at a home on Rumac Drive about 6:30 a.m. The victim was found at the scene with several stab wounds. He was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital where he was treated for a collapsed lung.
Law enforcement learned that three other residents had been home at the time of the attack, and that a car — a green Saturn — had been taken from the residence. A female resident, who had an outstanding arrest warrant, fled before police arrived.
A police K9 located the car nearby, and three people were arrested: Hughes, a 14-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, according to court documents.
Hughes said she was the owner of the Saturn, and that she had loaned it to a woman who lived at the home. She said the woman was supposed to pay her, but she hadn’t received any money, according to court documents.
She asked Kimbrough and Ford to help her get the car back and they agreed. They picked up the other defendants in a Ford Explorer on the way to the Rumac Drive home.
They drove past the home and saw the male victim sitting in the Saturn. Hughes said that everyone except for herself climbed out of the car and walked toward the house, according to court documents.
A short time later, she heard screaming coming from the home. Ford ran back to the car and told her that Salter had stabbed the victim and Simpson had hit him with brass knuckles.
Hughes said she drove the Explorer away, and Kimbrough took the Saturn. They later traded cars, according to court documents.
Two other residents of the home, a man and a woman, reported that they had been in their bedroom when they heard pounding on their door. They opened the door and saw two or three men, one of whom was armed with a hammer, according to court documents.
The residents said the men took money, methamphetamine and wrapped Christmas presents.
Later that day, officers located the Ford Explorer and Kimbrough. He said Ford, Simpson and Salter were the ones who assaulted the victim.
The other suspects were arrested later.
During the Thursday hearing, Jackson said the case was one of the most difficult he had ever worked on as a prosecutor, mainly because of the violence involved.
“This was a very serious event,” Jackson said. “This was clearly a drug ripoff. The defendant clearly wanted the drugs and the money.”
Simpson’s attorney, James Foley, said that his client wouldn’t have acted so violently if he hadn’t been using methamphetamine. Shortly after his arrest, Simpson told law enforcement that he and the other defendants had smoked methamphetamine in the Explorer shortly before the assault.
“He was not acting like any kind of rational person,” Foley said.
Simpson told the judge that he would use his prison sentence as an opportunity to change his life so that he can have a relationship with his daughter. He said his fiance is pregnant.
“I’m not going to put myself in a position where I get into any more trouble,” Simpson said. “I’m going to take this opportunity to change for the better.”