MARYSVILLE — Detectives believe a man found dead in Marysville earlier this month was shot in a drug deal-turned-robbery, according to police reports and charging papers filed in court.
Jason M. Castle, 42, had a fentanyl addiction, and the suspected shooter, Lyon Nicholas Torns, 36, who goes by Nick, was his friend and drug dealer, according to Marysville police. Over the past year, the pair exchanged more than 6,000 text messages, police reports say.
On Nov. 3, Castle began sending Torns text messages asking about money. Torns, who had a gambling problem, owed Castle as much as $8,600, deputy prosecutor Toni Montgomery wrote.
“why did u do it again?” Castle wrote to Torns. “I’m not in a great spot I have spent 40k lately but no return yet. These pills are breaking me.”
On Nov. 8, the day he was shot, Castle wrote Torns just before 1 a.m., arranging a meeting to buy 500 Fentanyl pills for $3,000.
“Yea jus make sure u got the bread for the extra 500,” Torns wrote back. “u owe me a (expletive) apology and some eggnog.”
They were to meet at “the spot,” apparently a small greenbelt near a Shell gas station along 88th Street NE, across the street from a Haggen grocery store and a Chick-Fil-A.
“Nick Wya?” Castle asked Torns in a text message sent at 2:54 a.m. “Wya” is shorthand for “Where (are) you at?”
Castle sent another text four minutes later: “Y U acting like this? U should know I’m solid.”
At 2:59 a.m., Castle called Torns. They were on the phone for 32 seconds.
Gunshots were reported 10 minutes later.
Torns was charged last week in Snohomish County Superior Court with second-degree murder. On Monday, he turned himself in to the Las Vegas Metro Police in Nevada and was expected to be transferred to the Snohomish County Jail. Prosecutors are asking that his bail be set at $1 million.
After police released 7-Eleven surveillance video to media, a citizen identified the second suspect — the alleged getaway driver — as 30-year-old James Burton Flowers. Edmonds police found him at the Studio 6 Motel in Mountlake Terrace, where he had been living with his girlfriend and 7-year-old son. Everett District Court Judge Anthony Howard set his bail Wednesday at $500,000.
There was no reason to believe this deal would be unlike their other deals, Montgomery argued in Everett District Court on Wednesday. They often would meet one-on-one to make their exchanges, she said.
A public defender claimed there wasn’t enough evidence that Flowers knew a robbery was planned, or that the shooting was not self-defense.
According to police reports, video footage showed Torns and Flowers arriving in a Nissan Altima, and Castle arriving in a Volkswagen Touareg. They drove around several businesses, including the 7-Eleven, a Holiday Inn Express, the Korean BBQ, and the Shell gas station, where they both ended up parking. At one point, a man later identified as Torns was seen getting out of the Nissan and running into the greenbelt.
When police arrived to reports of gunfire, they initially didn’t find anything and departed. An hour later, Castle’s wife called 911, saying she found her husband’s car at the Shell station, and that she saw Torns leave the scene in a vehicle. She tried to stop him, she reported. In security video, she’s heard yelling, “Where’s my husband?” The video reportedly shows a Jeep hit the Nissan Altima and cut it off — but the driver got away by the time police arrived.
Castle was found dead in the woods. An autopsy showed he had gunshot wounds to his chin, left shoulder and chest. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed his death was a homicide. Near him were six 9 mm Luger bullet casings. His phone was under his body. His pants pockets were turned out, and he didn’t have a wallet on him. His wife later said that Castle usually carried a large amount of cash with him.
According to charging papers, Torns called his wife the day of the shooting, saying “(expletive) went down” and that he “did what he had to do or he would be six feet in the ground.”
His wife also relayed to police that she called Torns’ mother in Florida and told her that Torns was in trouble and needed help getting away. Torns’ wife reported that both of her 9 mm pistols were missing.
Torns’ wife told police she hadn’t seen the defendant since Nov. 2. She reportedly confirmed Torns and Castle were friends, and that Castle often lent money to Torns.
According to court papers, the Nissan was registered to Enterprise Car Rental and had been rented to a woman, who told police she often rented cars for Torns. She last saw him the day before the shooting, when she gave him the car. She reportedly received a text message from Torns a few days later, saying he was almost safe and would call soon.
Detectives interviewed a man at the Snohomish County Jail on Nov. 12 who said he saw Torns at an apartment a few days before, waving a pistol. Torns reportedly said he shot someone and was in a lot of trouble, and had plans to leave the state, possibly to Florida.
Torns’ phone reportedly was pinging in Nevada at the time he was charged.
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @zachariahtb.