LYNNWOOD — An accomplice in a botched drug ripoff near Lynnwood testified against his former friend, who is now convicted of paralyzing a man with a gunshot to the neck.
A jury found Tony Williams guilty as charged Thursday for shooting the man, then 23, at a Brown Bear Car Wash in 2018. Gunshot wounds left the victim in need of constant medical care for the rest of his life.
Williams, 37, had already served a sentence of 9¼ years behind bars for his role in the notorious murder of Rachel Burkheimer, 18, who was slain near Gold Bar in 2002. He faces another lengthy prison sentence at a court hearing set for June.
Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis presided over a nine-day trial where Williams was charged with first-degree assault, attempted first-degree robbery with a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree.
His accomplice Nicholas Naylor, 31, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree robbery and unlawful possession. Naylor still awaits sentencing. In civilian clothes, he took the witness stand in Williams’ trial last week. His lengthy rap sheet — drug crimes, eluding a police vehicle, identity theft, burglary, bail jumping — was recited to the jury. Naylor acknowledged he plotted the robbery, and called Williams to help. But he told the jury he didn’t expect the man to suffer irreparable harm. The plan was for Williams to shock the victim with a stun gun, and Naylor would go through his pockets, he said.
“I went there to rob this guy and take his drugs and money, and he ended up getting shot,” Naylor testified.
At the time, he said, Williams was his drug supplier. Naylor knew the young man had been dealing drugs, that he didn’t carry a gun, and that he’d talked about how he hadn’t been robbed before, according to his testimony.
He seemed like an easy target, Naylor said.
The pair of robbers got high on heroin before rolling up to the car wash off 164th Street SW around 1 a.m. Aug. 5, 2018, in a maroon PT Cruiser, Naylor said. The security footage showed them pull into a neighboring stall, hop out and approach the man sitting behind the wheel of his car. One of the assailants, in all black, zapped him with a stun gun, but the 23-year-old wrestled the weapon away. The man in black retreated to the PT Cruiser, retrieved a pistol and fired.
A jury was convinced that Williams was the shooter.
A bullet lodged in the man’s spine. The paralyzed victim’s car lurched into a fence and building, while the robbers fled.
Naylor testified that he tried to use road flares to set the getaway car on fire, but the flares had expired in 1984. Then he covered his mouth and tried to cover up any fingerprints with off-brand bug spray.
Hours after the shooting, a passerby in Lynnwood found discarded black clothing about two miles away, near an abandoned, empty PT Cruiser.
On the floorboard was Naylor’s temporary driver’s license. Snohomish County deputies arrested him. Naylor falsely accused another man of pulling the trigger, according to court records. That man was arrested, then released 2½ weeks later with no charges.
DNA evidence on a cigarette later came back as a match for Williams, whose genetic profile was in a database of felons because he had been convicted of kidnapping Burkheimer in the early 2000s. In that case, Williams turned up the radio to drown out the woman’s screams while she was abducted. She was later killed with sadistic cruelty.
Deputies detained Williams in a Jeep in December 2018. According to prosecutors, a zippered pouch was beneath his seat. The pouch held a .40-caliber pistol and two purplish bullets. Shell casings with the same unusual hue had been recovered at the scene of the Brown Bear shooting.
A second count of unlawful possession of a firearm wasn’t part of Williams’ trial this month. The charge is still pending.
Herald reporter Zachariah Bryan contributed.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.