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State v. Jameison

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

June 28, 2018


          FEARING, J.

         We address intriguing questions worthy of a criminal law class examination, but which carry monumental consequences to the accused Lashawn Jameison. This appeal primarily asks whether an accused, who, in response to an antagonist retrieving a gun, also arms himself and hides behind a vehicle, suffers accomplice liability for homicide when, without the accused shooting his firearm, the antagonist fires his gun and the bullet strikes and kills an innocent bystander. The State argues that the accused bears liability because he encouraged his adversary to fire the gun. The State emphasizes that Lashawn Jameison later exchanged gunfire.

         The appeal also asks whether the same accused may be convicted of a drive-by shooting when he retrieves a gun from the car in which he arrived to the scene of the homicide but crouches behind another car at the time he returns fire. We affirm the trial court's summary dismissal of the homicide charges and twelve of fourteen of the drive-by shooting charges. We affirm the dismissal of the drive-by shooting charges based on our decision in State v. Vasquez, 2 Wn.App. 2d 632, 415 P.3d 1205 (2018), decided after the trial court ruling.


         This prosecution arises from a confrontation between Kwame Bates and defendant Lashawn Jameison, on the one hand, and Anthony Williams, on the other hand, during which skirmish Williams fired his gun and killed bystander Eduardo Villagomez. A video partially captures the confrontation and shooting.

         On the night of January 17-18, 2016, Lashawn Jameison and Kwame Bates joined a group of five hundred young adults at the Palomino Club in Spokane to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Bates drove Jameison to the club in a white Toyota Camry owned by Bates' girlfriend, which car gains significance as events transpire. Bates parked the Camry on Lidgerwood Street in front of a Department of Licensing building adjacent to the club. A Chrysler parked behind the Camry on the street. We do not know the time of night that Bates and Jameison arrived at the celebration.

         The Palomino Club closed at 2 a.m. on January 18. As Lashawn Jameison and Kwame Bates exited the club at closing, another patron, Anthony Williams, shoved Sierra, a female friend of Bates. The shove began a deadly chain of events. As a result of the push, Bates and Williams argued. Jameison did not participate in the quarrel. Williams jumped a metal fence bordering the club parking lot, retrieved a handgun from a car parked in the adjacent Department of Licensing parking lot, and returned to the entrance of the club. Williams paced to and from the club building, the adjacent lot, and Lidgerwood Street.

         Both Kwame Bates and Lashawn Jameison, knowing that Anthony Williams possessed a firearm, returned to the white Toyota Canny and armed themselves. Both Bates and Jameison lawfully owned firearms. During this activity, other patrons of the Palomino Club departed the building and walked to their cars parked in the club parking lot, in the adjacent parking lot, and on the street.

         Lashawn Jameison, with gun in hand, retreated and separated himself from Kwame Bates and Anthony Williams. Jameison hid at the rear of the Chrysler parked behind the Canny while Bates stood by a power pole near the Camry. Bates and Williams, with Williams then in the Department of Licensing parking lot, faced one another as Martin Luther King Day celebrants continued to walk to their cars. According to Bates, he "does not back down" from a fight as long as the fight is fair. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 158. Jameison crouched behind the Chrysler.

         (IMAGE OMITTED)

         A friend of Anthony Williams drove the friend's car into the parking lot. Williams stepped behind his friend's vehicle and discharged his gun in Bates' direction. The bullet missed Bates and struck Eduardo Villagomez, a bystander walking along the street. Villagomez slumped to the street. Tragically an unsuspecting driver of a car drove over Villagomez's stricken body. Villagomez died as a result of the bullet wound and the force of the vehicle.

         After Anthony Williams' discharge of gunfire, Kwame Bates ran from the power pole and joined Lashawn Jameison behind the stationary Chrysler. Seconds after Williams fired the first shot, Bates and Jameison stood, returned fire, and crouched again behind the Chrysler. Jameison fired, at most, two shots toward Williams. Williams returned additional shots toward Bates and Jameison. Bates rose again and returned fire as Williams entered the vehicle driven by his friend. The friend drove the vehicle from the parking lot and club. Bates and Jameison entered the Camry and also departed the neighborhood.

         Because the State contends inferences from the facts support accomplice liability, we now repeat and quote evidence in its unedited form and as presented to the trial court. Spokane Police Department Detective Marty Hill reviewed a security video, and, based on this viewing, wrote in an amended statement of investigating officer:

This individual is a black male dressed in a bright red top (later identified as Lashawn D. Jameison, BM, 04/18/1994). . . . Jameison appears to be crouching down behind the Chrysler 300 as if hiding prior to being joined by Bates.

CP at 8. Detective Hill added:

A sedan, later found to be driven by Jazzmine Dunlap, pulls into the lot[, ] and a male approaches the driver rear door. This male, later identified as Anthony G. Williams, B/M, 08/18/1993, then begins to fire shots at Jameison and Bates who are secreted behind the Chrysler 300. The victim, later identified as Eduardo Villagomez, HM, 01/15/1995, and his three companions, later identified as Carlos Villagomez, Miguel L. Martinez, and Rosario A. Ayala, are on Lidgerwood St. to the north and directly in the line of fire, but not involved in this gunfire. Williams appears to be engaging Bates. Williams appears to fire first at Bates, who then retreats to the Chrysler 300 where Jameison had secreted himself. Jameison and Bates are observed shooting south towards Williams, exchanging gunfire.

CP at 9 (emphasis added) (boldface omitted).

         In his amended statement of investigating officer, Detective Marty Miller shares the story as told by Kwame Bates during an interview by Miller:

As he [Bates] approached his car, the white 1993 Toyota Camry he did see L-Jay [Lashawn Jameison] behind the Chrysler 300. Bates put himself standing in the street to the east of his car. Bates said the male with the gray sweatshirt [Anthony Williams] approached him from the parking lot of the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] building. Bates stated this male was yelling at him and he thought he and this unknown male were going to have a fair fight. Bates stated he does not back down from fights as long as they are fair.
Bates stated this unknown male pulled out his firearm. Bates said he ran to his right and jumped behind the Chrysler 300 as the male began shooting. Bates said he could hear bullets striking the Chrysler. Bates admitted that he returned fire towards this male as the male was running towards a gray colored car. Bates indicated that he fired between six and seven shots. Bates said when the male entered the car, he did not continue to shoot anymore, but he and L-Jay jumped into the white 1993 Toyota Camry . . . and they drove away.
Bates said it happened so fast, "I thought it was over for me."

CP at 12.

         Stephanie Collins, a deputy prosecuting attorney, signed a statement outlining facts in chronological order. Collins declared in part:

11. A Chevy Cruze pulls into the DOL [Department of Licensing] lot-later determined to be driven by a friend of Williams', Jazzmine Dunlap. The car stops in the DOL lot and Williams approaches it. Williams faces Lidgerwood and is walking back and forth along the driver's side of the car;
12. Williams and Bates square off They are approximately 30-60 feet apart. Bates is facing Williams in the DOL lot. Williams is facing Bates, whose [sic] is on Lidgerwood.

CP at 133-34 (emphasis added).


         The State of Washington charged Lashawn Jameison with first degree murder by extreme indifference and, in the alternative, first degree manslaughter as the result of the death of Eduardo Villagomez. The State acknowledged that Anthony Williams shot Eduardo Villagomez but charged Jameison with accomplice liability. The State also charged Jameison with fourteen counts of drive-by shooting as a result of Jameison's returning of gunfire. The fourteen charges arise from the presence of at least fourteen club patrons in the vicinity at the time of the shooting.

         Lashawn Jameison moved to dismiss the homicide charges pursuant to State v. Knapstad, 107 Wn.2d 346, 729 P.2d 48 (1986). Jameison emphasized that the video of the scene and law enforcement officers' reports and affidavits demonstrated beyond dispute that Anthony Williams killed the decedent while Jameison ducked behind a car, shielding himself from Williams' attack. Jameison added that, because he had not fired a shot by the time Williams' bullet struck Eduardo Villagomez and because he himself was a victim of Williams' violence, he could not be guilty of murder even as an accomplice. Jameison posited the same arguments for the alternative charge of manslaughter.

         Lashawn Jameison also moved to dismiss the drive-by shooting charges for insufficient evidence of recklessness. In the alternative, he argued that all but one count should be dismissed because he fired only one shot. He based the latter argument on law enforcement's discovering, at the crime scene, only one shell casing matching his gun.

         As part of its response to Lashawn Jameison's motion to dismiss, the State filed a certificate of Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stefanie W. Collins, which outlines the facts in serial and chronological form. We previously quoted two paragraphs from the certificate. Collins declared that she based the facts on her review of police reports and security video. In reply, Jameison asked that Collins' certificate be stricken because Collins did not base her certificate on percipient knowledge. The trial court's order of dismissal does not indicate whether the court granted the motion to strike.

         The trial court dismissed the first degree murder and first degree manslaughter charges on the basis, in part, that Lashawn Jameison did not cause the death of Eduardo Villagomez. The trial court also ruled that the unit of prosecution for drive-by shooting charges was the number of shots fired by Jameison. Because of a dispute of fact as to whether Jameison fired one or two shots, the trial court dismissed all but two of the fourteen drive-by shooting counts.

         The State requested and this court granted discretionary review of the trial court's dismissal of some of the pending charges. After we accepted discretionary review, this court decided State v. Vasquez, 2 Wn.App. 2d 632 (2018), which delineates the elements of a drive-by shooting prosecution. We requested that both parties address Vasquez during oral argument.


         Facts and Inferences

         The State appeals dismissal of the murder, manslaughter, and the twelve drive-by shooting charges. Lashawn Jameison has not sought review of the trial court's refusal to dismiss the remaining two drive-by shooting counts. Before addressing the substantive law of homicide and drive-by shootings, we first determine what facts to apply to the law. The parties contest what constitutes the ...

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