The getaway driver, James Burton Flowers, 32, pleaded guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance. Last week, he was sentenced to 2⅛ years in prison.
Under state sentencing guidelines, Torns faced between 15¼ and 23⅓ years in prison. Prosecutors and Torns’ defense attorney agreed on a sentence in the middle of that range: just over 19¼ years.
Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis approved the request.
The victim’s wife, Kathryn Castle, told the judge her husband was “not perfect, but he was very well loved by a lot of people.”
“And now his children have to grow up without a dad,” she said. “I have to grow old without my partner, my best friend. It has impacted our lives so much that nobody could understand.”
Torns had been Jason Castle’s fentanyl dealer, according to court documents. Jason Castle had been injured at work and turned to drugs to help with the pain, Kathryn Castle said.
The night of Nov. 7, 2020, Jason Castle and his wife had gone to a casino for a couple hours before falling asleep. Early the next morning, he told his wife he was going to meet Torns.
Security footage reportedly showed Jason Castle arrived in his Volkswagen Touareg; Torns in a Nissan Altima.
At 2:50 a.m., Jason Castle called his wife. She was half-asleep but remembered him saying he had a bad feeling when he met with Torns, Kathryn Castle told police. If she didn’t hear from him within 10 minutes, he told her to come to the Shell station in the 3500 block of 88th Street NE in Marysville. At 2:54 a.m., he texted her to come to the Haggen grocery store down the street from the gas station.
At 2:59 a.m., Jason Castle called Torns for 32 seconds.
Ten minutes later, gunshots were reported. Two minutes after the shots, Torns got back in the Altima, driven by Flowers.
Marysville police checked the area, but didn’t find anything.
After likely being dropped off nearby, Flowers got back to an Everett hotel at 3:33 a.m., where he was staying with his girlfriend, surveillance video showed. The Altima returned to the area near the shooting about 10 minutes later.
Around the same time, Kathryn Castle found her husband’s Touareg parked and running at the Shell station, according to charging documents. No one was inside.
She then reported seeing Torns climb out of nearby bushes. He got in the driver’s seat of the Touareg. Kathryn Castle stepped in front of the car. In security video, she’s heard yelling, “Where’s my husband?” Torns drove anyway and the wife got out of the way.
Kathryn Castle got in her own car and followed Torns to the Holiday Inn Express parking lot, where he got out of the Touareg and into a black sedan, according to court papers. She tried to block the exit to the parking lot, but Torns drove over the curb to get out. She followed him onto I-5 but decided to return to the scene and call 911.
Police then found Jason Castle in the bushes, the same ones his wife had seen Torns emerge from. He didn’t have his wallet and his pants pockets were turned out. He died of gunshot wounds to the chin, shoulder and chest. Officers found six 9 mm bullet casings near Jason Castle’s body.
Flowers was arrested at a Mountlake Terrace motel.
Days after the shooting, Torns was charged with second-degree murder. On Nov. 16, he turned himself in to Las Vegas police. A couple months later, the allegation was upgraded to first-degree murder. But this month Torns pleaded guilty to the original charge.
Flowers, of Everett, was initially charged with first-degree murder. But his plea was for a lesser charge.
Kathryn Castle said her family is now afraid to go outside when it’s dark. They’re constantly looking over their shoulders.
“It’s not a life to ever live,” she said.
At sentencing Wednesday, Torns apologized to the Castle family for what he did.
“If I could go back and do things differently, I would,” he said. “But, unfortunately, I can’t. All I can do is stand up and take responsibility for what I’ve done and try to save this family whatever grievance I can by pleading guilty and accepting my punishment.”
Judge Ellis argued that remorse isn’t enough. Jason Castle’s two sons will grow up without their father, she noted. One doesn’t want to play football anymore because the father and son used to do that together. He won’t go to school anymore, either. The two boys cried throughout the hearing.
“I hope that they are able to build something good and true for themselves,” she said, “and not be hampered by what you have caused.