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Man pleads guilty in deadly shooting

An 18-year-old Tacoma man pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting three men, killing one of them, during a pair of marijuana-related robberies two years ago.

Pierce County prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 45 years, 10 months, in prison for Phillip K. Otto when he’s sentenced Oct. 22.

Otto, 16 at the time of the robberies, had been charged with aggravated first-degree murder – the state’s highest crime – and nine other felonies. In a deal with prosecutors, he agreed to be prosecuted as an adult and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Authorities said Otto and six other teens conspired to rob marijuana peddlers for money and drugs in August and September 2008.

Joshua Thomas Gatbunton, 20, died after Otto shot him during one of those robberies. Otto also shot Gatbunton’s roommate, who was suspected of selling drugs from their apartment in Tacoma’s South End. That man survived.

Otto shot and wounded another man during an attempted robbery about a week before Gatbunton’s death.

Otto’s six co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to various crimes. One has been sentenced. The rest are to be sentenced next month.

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