Second man sentenced in 2014 Lacey murder, trial postponed for two others

Stephen R. Pettit, 19, will spend 12 years in prison for last year’s shooting death of Daniel Smith.

He is the second of five defendants to be sentenced in the case, which stems from a Jan. 22, 2014, botched robbery in Lacey. Pettit entered guilty pleas to first-degree manslaughter and first-degree robbery Tuesday before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor.

Pettit had initially been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted robbery.

Another suspect, 21-year-old Eric T. Adamczewski, could plead guilty to similar charges on May 21. Prosecutor Jon Tunheim said he and the defense have reached a tentative plea agreement.

“I use the word tentative carefully because things could change,” Tunheim said.

Ryan S. Anderson was the first to take advantage of a plea deal. He pleaded guilty last June to second-degree robbery in juvenile court, and was sentenced to a minimum of three years in custody.

The remaining two suspects, 19-year-old Ronny G. McDaniel and 18-year-old Nicholas Armajo, were scheduled to stand trial next week. But during a Wednesday hearing, attorneys from both sides asked Judge Anne Hirsch to postpone the trial to the week of Sept. 8.

Attorney Richard Woodrow, who is representing McDaniel, said that will be enough time to consult a University of Washington professor specializing in juvenile brain development.

“I think we have a pretty good defense,” Woodrow said. “He was only 17. Juveniles that age are impulsive, especially when there are drugs or other juveniles involved.”

He said he won’t petition to have the case remanded to juvenile court. Attorney Karl Hack, who represents Armajo, moved in March to have his client’s case remanded to juvenile court, but the motion was denied.

Court documents give the following account of the events leading to their arrest:

On Jan. 22, 2014, Lacey police officers responded to a report that a man in the parking lot of a College Street apartment complex had been shot. The victim, Daniel Smith, was pronounced dead.

After interviewing witnesses, officers found and arrested Pettit, Adamczewski and Anderson at the scene.

During a series of interviews, the three suspects told officers that McDaniel and Armajo had devised a plan to steal marijuana from Smith. McDaniels called Smith and asked to meet him at the apartment complex.

When they arrived, Pettit, McDaniel, Adamczewski and Armajo got out of their vehicle and approached Smith’s car. They asked Smith to show them the marijuana, and Smith asked them again to show him their money.

McDaniel pulled out a gun and pointed it at Smith, who started to drive away. He fired, hitting Smith in the shoulder.

A short time later, a man came and picked up McDaniel and Armajo. They were found the next day in Idaho, in a vehicle being driven by McDaniel’s mother, Robin Mena.