EVERETT — Joshua Thompson, 42, didn’t understand that a man he kicked in the face in September 2017 was going to die, his public defender said Thursday.
“Mr. Thompson did not act with any intent to cause a death that night,” attorney Jennifer Bartlett said in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Judge Jennifer Langbehn agreed. Referencing Thompson’s mental illness, she sentenced him to five years in prison for first-degree manslaughter. She said the victim, Juan Gonzales, 47, also had health conditions that could have contributed to his death.
The sentence falls below state guidelines, which called for between 8 and 10½ years. Prosecutors and the defense recommended an exceptional sentence outside the standard range.
The manslaughter conviction was part of a plea agreement reached in January. Thompson was initially charged with second-degree murder.
Thompson’s psychological history has been well documented. Forensic reports show he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and unspecified psychosis. Court documents show he had many hospital stays for mental health issues from 2009 to 2017. He’d been found incompetent to stand trial in at least seven other criminal cases.
After the killing, a judge didn’t find him competent to stand trial until August, nearly a year later.
Thompson appeared delusional Sept. 25, 2017, the day of the attack, according to court papers. He walked up to Gonzales and a woman sitting on a mattress on Smith Avenue. Thompson became angry, witnesses said, because he believed he owned the mattress that Gonzales sat on, as well as the city property where it was located.
Thompson kicked Gonzales once in the head and walked away, a witness said.
Afterward, while being interviewed by Everett police, Thompson rambled incoherently. He talked about his “spiritual strength” and how Gonzales was asking, telepathically, to be kicked.
“He said ‘bro, I’m sorry, but look, next time just hit me in the head. Kick me in the head,’ ” Thompson told police at the time.
He said he only “tapped” Gonzales in the head with his ankle.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office found Gonzales’ death was a homicide caused by bleeding in the brain and blunt force trauma to the head. The victim’s “various chronic heart conditions and methamphetamine intoxication” may have played a role, according to charging papers.
Gonzales’ brother, speaking at the sentencing hearing, said he drove from California to Washington with his mother after the attack. They arrived to the hospital to see Gonzales on life support. He died that same day.
“I never would have imagined I would have to arrange a funeral for a family member who was murdered,” Gonzales’s brother said Thursday.
He recalled growing up with Gonzales in California, and how he would always crack jokes and play drums.
Gonzales lost touch with his family when he moved to Washington, saying he wanted to find work. His brother said watching video clips from a controversial YouTube channel showing surveillance video on Smith Avenue was the first glimpse he got into Gonzales’ life on Everett’s streets.
It was also how he saw Gonzales’ last conscious moments, clinging to a fence, legs wobbling.
“He was always kindhearted and cheerful, despite his struggles,” Gonzales’ brother said.
This story has been updated to show that Joshua Tompson was sentenced to five years in prison.