Lewis County Sheriff's Office urges murder charge in death of Federal Way man

Nine months ago a 58-year-old Federal Way man died from an alleged physical assault in Randle.

On Thursday, the Lewis County Sheriff's Office requested prosecutors charge 43-year-old Randle resident Erik R. Massa with second-degree murder.

In mid-March, Massa was held 72 hours as a suspect in the death of Guy LaFontaine. Massa and LaFontaine were related by marriage.

On the evening of March 13, LaFontaine was transported to Morton General Hospital where he showed signs of serious injury to his head and face. Abruptly, and for unknown reasons, LaFontaine left the hospital and was transported by private vehicle to a Federal Way hospital.

In the early morning hours of March 14, LaFontaine's wife delivered him to a Federal Way hospital's emergency room. He was dead on arrival, according to Sheriff's Office Commander Steve Aust.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy on LaFontaine's body. He died of blunt-force injuries to his head, torso and extremities. The cause of death was ruled homicide.

Massa was released 72 hours after his arrest.

"We had to release him because we didn't have all the evidence," Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Meagher said.

Aust said part of a broken shotgun ó which was found bloodied on Massa's property ó is a key piece of evidence in the case.

Before referring the case to prosecutors, detectives had to wait on the Washington State Crime Lab to return DNA analysis and lab reports.

Aust said the investigation itself was expansive, from the inside- and outside-area of a shop on Massa's property to Federal Way.

"It used up a considerable amount of resources and it was complex," Aust said.

If prosecutors charge Massa with second-degree assault, Meagher said Massa will be summoned to Lewis County Superior Court. However, Meagher could not speculate when that might happen.

For now, prosecutors have an immense police report held together by a three-ring binder that they must read before getting that far in the case.

"I don't even know if I'm going to charge him yet," Meagher said.