EVERETT — A man who was serving time in federal prison for crimes involving guns, drugs and an escape is now charged with playing a role in a cold-case murder nearly a dozen years ago.
Saravouth Sun, 35, recently finished his federal sentences for being a felon in possession of firearms and methamphetamine and for a 2015 escape from confinement.
Snohomish County prosecutors Tuesday filed a first-degree murder charge, accusing him of participating in the June 9, 2005, shooting death of Jesse Williams during a drug deal-turned-attempted robbery near Lake Stickney.
Sun is linked to the killing through witness statements and DNA found on dirty clothes that were in a duffle bag the robber left behind at the scene, deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter said in Snohomish County Superior Court papers.
No arrests were made in the killing until 2016, when a man who allegedly drove the would-be robbers to the deal reportedly spilled what he knew to members of the sheriff’s office cold-case team.
The gunman, Bunthoeun Nem, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and recently was sentenced to more than eight years in prison.
Sun has denied involvement.
The new charge came with a warrant and Sun was booked Tuesday in the Snohomish County Jail to face trial for murder. He was being held on $1 million bail.
Sun is accused of having been part of a group who decided to turn a 2005 marijuana deal into a robbery.
Williams, 31, had agreed to meet at the lake and brought along cash to purchase drugs. A man he knew as “China” approached Williams’ vehicle, carrying a bag that supposedly contained the pot. When China drew near, he threw the bag into the car and opened fire.
Williams was shot in the chest. His friend drove him to a local hospital but the doctors were unable to save his life.
While Sun and other men became suspects early on, the case went cold for lack of sufficient evidence.
The investigation rekindled when detectives tracked down people suspected of being involved in the killing. One of them, Youthy Chim, in 2011 allegedly admitted he was the driver that day, and reportedly identified his accomplices. Chim is now facing a June trial for first-degree murder.
Sun has since been linked to the killing through genetic testing of the dirty clothing that was in the duffle bag, Hunter alleged.
He also said the man has been connected to a Bronco the robbers crashed in a ditch and abandoned after the 2005 gunfire, Hunter said.
Questioned in 2009, the defendant denied involvement in Williams’ death.
Sun was sent to federal prison in 2010 after a traffic stop in Mount Vernon. He had felony convictions for burglary and cocaine possession and was prohibited from having any guns. Skagit County sheriff’s deputies found two semi-automatic pistols and methamphetamine in Sun’s backpack.
He was back in federal court Tuesday, where he was sentenced to time served for fleeing from federal custody while under supervised release at his mother’s home in 2015. He had been sent there to finish his time on the drug and gun case, but relapsed his drug habit. He cut off the ankle bracelet he was required to wear for home detention and disappeared for six weeks, according to court papers.
Paperwork filed in the escape case references the murder allegations. Federal prosecutors said Sun “has a lengthy history of dangerous crimes.”
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.