EVERETT — An Everett man was convicted of first-degree murder Friday for a 2015 gang-related shooting, but the jury apparently was unconvinced that prosecutors had proven he pulled the trigger.
Diego Tavares, 20, was accused of gunning down Anthony Camacho during a Dec. 12, 2015, attack on a south Everett house where members of a rival gang had gathered for a party.
The Snohomish County Superior Court jury began hearing evidence Feb. 15. They started deliberating late Wednesday and announced their verdict just after noon Friday.
They found Tavares guilty of first-degree murder, but not guilty of being a felon in unlawful possession of a firearm — in this case the murder weapon. Jurors also found that prosecutors had not proven Tavares was armed at the time of the killing.
Under Washington law, accomplices to murder are just as guilty as the person who does the deed.
The verdict means Tavares likely won’t face extra prison time for illegally using a firearm. He’s still looking at decades behind bars at sentencing, which is now scheduled for June 6.
Tavares appeared stoic when the verdict was announced. He nodded at family with his upthrust chin as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
“We’re very gratified the jury took the time to go through all the testimony and came to the right decision,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said Friday.
The trial was remarkable for showcasing uncooperative witnesses. Some had refused to talk with investigators. Others, including Tavares’ co-defendants, told shifting stories about who played what role in Camacho’s killing.
Camacho was a student at ACES High School in the Mukilteo School District. He was just a few days shy of turning 18 when he was fatally shot. While not a gang member himself, he numbered them among his friends.
He was struck in the forehead by a .22 caliber bullet as he stepped into the driveway outside the house where the party was underway.
Jurors were told that the gunfire occurred because Tavares was angry about having been shot at a few hours earlier by members of a rival set.
Members of Tavares’ crew gathered together. They used social media posts about the party to zero in on the home targeted for attack.
Prosecutors alleged that Tavares and company parked about a block away. From there, he allegedly walked up on the party and opened fire.
Among those who testified that Tavares was the gunman were two members of his group, both now 17. They’d earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Tavares’ public defenders told jurors that Padilla pulled the trigger. He disposed of the handgun, which was never recovered for testing.
Tavares’ co-defendants — and many of the other witnesses — also were confronted in court by numerous lies they’d told investigators.
Indeed, the case was rife with so many falsehoods that lawyers on both sides of the case cautioned jurors at the trial’s outset to trust nobody’s story without corroborating evidence.
The court also gave jurors an instruction making clear that they could not decide the case based solely on the testimony of alleged accomplices.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.