"There was no malice in what I did. There was no honor in it either," Victor Garcia said.
Garcia, 20, read from a lengthy letter Thursday, saying that fear drove him to stay quiet about the shooting death of Fernando Mendoza, 18.
"I should have screamed out at the loss of a human life," Garcia said.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent sentenced Garcia to 15 years in prison. He faced up to 23 years for the second-degree murder conviction.
Okrent followed the sentencing recommendation reached by Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Janice Albert and Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel. Garcia didn't have any prior criminal history.
"At 20 years old, you threw away the best part of your life by your stupid act," Okrent said.
Prosecutors alleged that Garcia helped Edgar Omar Alejandre carry out and cover up the shooting. Both men denied pulling the trigger. Alejandre, however, failed a polygraph exam and is believed to be responsible for shooting Mendoza, Albert told the judge Thursday.
Alejandre is serving 26 years in prison for the July 2, 2012, murder.
That day Mendoza told his girlfriend he was going to meet someone in Everett to collect a debt. Witnesses told detectives that Alejandre owed Mendoza thousands of dollars for cocaine.
Mendoza's remains were discovered two months later in the 16100 of Dubuque Road. He had been shot three times.
Garcia spoke with detectives on numerous occasions during the investigation. He admitted that he knew "something bad was going to happen." He has denied knowing that Alejandre planned to kill Mendoza.
Alejandre shot Mendoza as he walked toward a barn and then robbed him of $16,000, court papers said.
Prosecutors alleged the two men dragged Mendoza's body into the woods and left him there. Man trackers later found drag patterns from the property where the two suspects were visiting to where the victim's body was discovered. The two men were accused of using bleach and a hose to try to clean up the blood that had pooled on the ground. They abandoned Mendoza's car in a Marysville parking lot.
Mendoza's mother told the judge on Thursday that Garcia doesn't deserve leniency. Her son was left like an animal and she never had the chance to say goodbye.
"It's not justice right now," she said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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