Edmond Overton, 26, rushed into an apartment at 22nd Street and Colby Avenue on Oct. 17, 2017, wearing a mask and armed with a pistol. He attacked Nicholus Leman, beating him with the gun and demanding cash and drugs. The men fought. Overton fired a shot that struck Leman in the left ear. As the intruder fled, he fired one shot back into the home.
The bullet struck Darren Larson, 55, who died at the scene.
Overton knew the tenants of the apartment, and he was not on good terms with them. His then-girlfriend was pregnant, and that week her aunt — a resident — had refused to let them stay there. None of the witnesses identified Overton as the gunman on the night of the shooting. But they did note the shooter had a distinctive way of walking.
After getting a tip about the suspect’s whereabouts in October 2017, police arrested Overton and his partner, Vanessa Grimmett, at a hotel in Northgate.
Grimmett pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in 2018 for helping Overton carry out the plan, escape and hide. Just as Overton’s trial was set to begin earlier this year, another woman, Laura Bonita Johnson, 29, pleaded guilty to the same robbery charge, for supplying the getaway car. The women were handed the same sentence, 8½ years in prison.
Grimmett took the witness stand soon after Overton’s murder trial began in January.
Leman testified about his memories — some vague, some clear — of the night in question. He struggled to describe the shooter’s appearance, except that he was dressed in dark clothing, with a covering over his nose and mouth. Leman hears a constant hissing in his left ear now.
A jury needed only a few hours of deliberation to convict Overton of first-degree murder and first-degree assault on Feb. 8.
At a court hearing on March 2, the victim’s sister, Dori Larson, told Superior Court Judge Paul Thompson she did not know how much time in prison would be a fair trade for her brother’s life.
“I would like you to really consider the fact that Mr. Overton had no case coming to court,” the sister said. “He still chose to put his family through that. … He did that to his family, and it has broken our hearts to watch his mom and his sister and his brother go through this trial, and to think, they’re going to go for however many years that they don’t have him. But he did that. Not anybody else.”
Overton declined to speak.
Judge Thompson held off on handing down a sentence in March as he weighed a technical legal question. Then follow-up hearings were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thompson ordered the defendant to serve 43 years and one month behind bars Thursday, in a courtroom with perhaps a dozen spectators — family, friends, court staff. It’s the exact amount of prison time suggested by state sentencing guidelines — no more, no less.
“I will forever wonder why he shot him when he was going out the door,” Larson’s sister told the judge in March. “What made him pull the trigger and shoot Darren at that time? He was home free. He could’ve been in that car and left. But he didn’t. He shot that gun again, and for no reason.”
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.