A 26-year-old man who shot a woman at a White Center bus stop last year after she refused to give his friend a cigarette was sentenced Friday to more than 15 years in prison.
A South Seattle man who shot a young woman at a bus stop last year because she refused to give his friend a cigarette was sentenced Friday to 15 years and four months in prison.
Anthony H. Smith, 26, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder in the slaying of 24-year-old Sweetheart Masela Failautusi.
King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu acknowledged that Smith had a terrible childhood and little criminal history, but she said that did not excuse his actions. “You had the chance to walk away and you didn’t,” Yu said.
Failautusi was described by her cousin Tiare Faletogo as the “type that you saw everywhere. She knew everyone … and she didn’t judge anyone.”
Most Read Local Stories
- Ferry-naming contest draws comically creative ideas — but let's get real, Washington state says
- Coronavirus daily news updates, September 27: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- WSP trooper whose work was key to investigation of 2017 DuPont Amtrak derailment dies from COVID
- Light rail ready to open at Northgate, transforming more than just commutes
- Rain will stick around this week in the Seattle area, with a chance for thunderstorms
“I want you to know how heartbroken our family is,” she told Smith in the courtroom packed with Failautusi’s relatives and friends.
“I hope you think about her every day ’cause we think about her all the time,” Faletogo said.
Smith hung his head and wiped his eyes repeatedly throughout the hearing. In a letter read by his attorney, he said he was “sorry from the bottom of my heart and soul.”
A conviction for second-degree murder could have netted him a prison term of 19-½ years under the standard sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said.
According to court documents, Failautusi and three friends were at a bus stop at Southwest Roxbury Street and 15th Avenue Southwest on Aug. 16 when they were approached by Smith and two other men.
One of the men asked for a cigarette but Failautusi and her friends refused, prompting Smith to unleash a string of expletives and starting a brawl between the two groups.
Smith reportedly told Failautusi: “I’ll be right back; it’s not over,” before fleeing with the other men, court records say.
When King County sheriff’s deputies arrived a short time later, Failautusi and her friends told them everything was OK and the deputies left, according to court records.
About 30 minutes after the fight, the three men returned and one of them shook hands with Failautusi, which enraged Smith, according to court records.
He pulled a gun and started firing, striking Failautusi in the back of the head. She collapsed and died in the middle of 15th Avenue Southwest.
The fight and shooting were captured by video-surveillance cameras at nearby businesses, the records say.
A tip led deputies to identify Smith as the shooter, and he surrendered when detectives showed up at his house a few blocks from the shooting scene the following day.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a firearm enhancement that would have added five years to Smith’s prison sentence, the records say.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.