A 24-year-old Kent man was charged Monday with premeditated first-degree murder, accused of fatally shooting a man at a Federal Way gas station last month over an apparent drug dispute and leaving his body in a water-filled ditch, according to King County prosecutors.

Robert Nelson III was arrested Nov. 24 in connection with the shooting death of Uso Hale, 39, on Nov. 11, charging papers say. Nelson remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail. He is to be arraigned Dec. 15.

Court records do not yet indicate which attorney is representing Nelson.

Just before 7:30 a.m. Nov. 12, a couple who lives in the 4600 block of South 352nd Street in unincorporated King County, east of Algona, called 911 and reported they had found a man face down in a ditch. King County sheriff’s deputies responded and determined the man was dead, say the charges.

The man was identified as Hale and an autopsy determined he’d been shot seven times, with most of the wounds to the left side of his body, according to charging papers. Five .45-caliber bullets were removed from Hale’s body and two others were recovered from the ditch, say the charges.

Sheriff’s detectives found a cellphone, a bag of blue pills possibly containing fentanyl, and a second bag of pills that had turned into “blue mush” in Hale’s pockets, the charges say.


During the investigation, detectives learned Hale had taken $1,500 from a man in a drug deal but hadn’t immediately delivered the promised pills to the buyer. He later told a friend he had “made things right” with the buyer.

On Nov. 11, Hale arranged to meet the same buyer at a gas station at South 320th Street and Military Road South in Federal Way, where he planned to sell the same number of pills for $2,000, say the charges. Another friend had picked Hale up in Auburn and drove to the gas station, where Hale got into the passenger seat of a two-door Audi.

Seconds after Hale got into the Audi, his friend heard multiple gunshots and chased after the Audi as it sped from the gas station, but he soon lost sight of the car, the charges say. Detectives later found a .45-caliber bullet embedded in the window of the gas station’s convenience store.

Witness statements, cellphone records and video-surveillance footage led detectives to identify Nelson as a suspect in Hale’s homicide, according to the charges. Nelson is the registered owner of a two-door Audi and has a concealed pistol license, with two handguns, a .45-caliber Sig Sauer and a 9-mm Glock, registered in his name, the charges say.

Detectives have not located the Audi or the .45 caliber handgun, say the charges. They obtained warrants and searched Nelson’s apartment and a Cadillac he was driving at the time of his arrest. Detectives found a 9-mm handgun, 9-mm ammunition and a baggie of pills in the Cadillac; a magazine loaded with .45-caliber bullets, boxes of .45-caliber ammunition and a gun box for a .45-caliber handgun were found in his apartment, the charges say.