Byron White, of Seattle, was sentenced to 28½ years in prison Monday for killing a man to steal his cellphone in February 2014. David L. Peterson, 54, was on the phone with a 911 operator when he was shot in the chest in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood.
A King County Superior Court judge sentenced a 19-year-old Seattle man to 28½ years in prison Monday for killing a man over his cellphone in the parking lot of a Greenwood pet store in February 2014.
“I’ll be back in an hour” were the last words 54-year-old David L. Peterson said to his wife of 22 years as he headed out on his nightly walk around their Greenwood neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2014, Kimberly Peterson told Judge James Cayce before the judge issued the stiffest punishment he could.
Byron White, who was 17 when he fatally shot Peterson once in the chest, pleaded guilty Oct. 19 to first-degree murder, attempted second-degree robbery and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
He was charged as an adult under a state law that provides for automatic adult prosecution for 16- and 17-year-olds charged with serious violent offenses.
Most Read Local Stories
- WA's homeless population is increasing, new HUD report shows
- Judge rules BNSF intentionally violated terms of easement with Swinomish tribe
- Where WA keeps its money: Most is tied up in a handful of huge banks
- Person found dead in Elliott Bay near Seattle waterfront
- Mukilteo man's rare brain surgery may help his seizures — and science VIEW
White had been carrying around a loaded gun for days and stole a bank-deposit bag full of cash from a nearby restaurant shortly before the fatal shooting, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Melinda Young.
Peterson called 911 just before 8:30 that evening to report a young man had struck him in the head and tried to steal his cellphone outside Mud Bay, a pet store at 8532 First Ave.N.W., charging papers say.
He told the operator the man was “coming back” and was overheard telling White he wouldn’t give up his phone and that he was talking to police, the papers say. He continued speaking to the operator for a few more seconds before the line suddenly went dead, they say.
Officers arrived soon and discovered Peterson dead from a single gunshot to the chest, according to charging documents. They found a spent 9-mm shell casing on the pavement, charges say.
White went to a friend’s house about five blocks away and told three people there what had happened, saying Peterson had called 911 and had seen White’s face, so “he had to shoot him,” say the charges.
He expressed disappointment that the phone he stole from Peterson wasn’t a nicer model, according to the charges.
Nearly a week later, police arrested White at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before he could board a flight to Atlanta. He later admitted to police he had shot Peterson after hearing him talk with the 911 operator, the charging papers say.
Police didn’t find Peterson’s cellphone or the gun used to kill him when they searched White’s house but did find the same brand and caliber of ammunition as the spent shell casing, according to the papers.
White was a senior at Ballard High School and played on the varsity football team at the time he killed Peterson.
“I want to say sorry to Mrs. Peterson. I know nothing I say … will fix her wounds,” White said in a brief statement to the court. “If I could take that day back, I truly would.”
Peterson, a former soldier, was a man of faith and was married for more than 20 years. Within days of his death, his wife said she forgave White and expressed sorrow for his family. White’s mother also said she was heartbroken for Peterson’s family.
Peterson, who worked in IT and was pursuing an online degree, was remembered by family and friends Monday as a comic-book and video-game geek who enjoyed a good bourbon and routinely bought shoes for homeless men he’d meet on the street.
The couple moved to Seattle from San Diego two years before his death because Kimberly Peterson couldn’t stand the hot weather. He walked her to her bus stop every morning and was there when she returned at night, she said.
“David always took care of me,” she said. “He was the love of my life.”