Joshua Thomas Gatbunton likely knew nothing about the circumstances that led to his shooting death Sept. 3, 2008.
The 20-year-old man answered a knock at the door of a Tacoma apartment and was shot in the head by gunmen seeking to steal marijuana from his friend, Seth Baker.
Baker also was shot but survived.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper on Friday called Gatbunton’s death senseless.
“It’s my understanding that he was just staying the night there, sleeping on the couch,” Culpepper said during a hearing in which three men convicted for their roles in the murder were sentenced. “He didn’t do anything other than open the door.”
Sentenced were Billy J. Gumabon, 20; Jonathan C. Thai, 18; and Caleb J. Dumanal, 20.
Gumabon received 35 years in prison. He previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree robbery. He also took part in an August 2008 robbery outside Larchmont Elementary School in which another man was shot and wounded.
Jonathan C. Thai received 12 years, six months. He previously pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, first-degree robbery and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.
Dumanal received four years, seven months. He previously pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, second-degree robbery and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.
Prosecutors contended they conspired with another man, Phillip K. Otto, to commit the robbery. Otto – who has pleaded guilty to shooting both Gatbunton and Baker – and Gumabon went inside the apartment that night while Thai and Dumanal waited in the car outside.
Otto, who also pleaded guilty to shooting the man outside Larchmont Elementary, is to be sentenced Oct. 22. The 18-year-old faces 45 years in prison.
Relatives and friends of Gatbunton said his death deprived them of a fine young man they remembered as smart, funny, dependable and generous. He was a 2006 graduate of Mount Tahoma High School and was attending Saint Martin’s University in Lacey at the time of his death.
“They killed a lot of dreams, a lot of hopes,” Baker told Culpepper. “They killed more than a person.” Gatbunton’s mother, Kim, gave an address that left people throughout the courtroom, including those present to support the defendants, wiping at tears. “I’ve lost a part of me,” she said. Kim Gatbunton called the defendants cowards for taking part in the crime and said they should be ashamed. “He died for nothing,” she said. The three defendants apologized , and Gumabon said he hoped that one that Gatbunton’s family could forgive him. “My heart grieves,” he said. Also sentenced Friday was Ronald Unutoa, 18, who previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery in the Larchmont Elementary shooting.