EVERETT — The drug deal was a setup from the beginning.
Jesse Williams arrived at the Lake Stickney boat launch just south of Everett intending to buy two pounds of marijuana June 9, 2005.
The three men he met there didn’t have any drugs, though. One of them walked up and threw a gym bag full of clothes through the passenger window. The man drew a .40-caliber handgun and opened fire. Williams was in the passenger seat. He was hit in the chest and forearm. His driver took him to the hospital, where he died. He was 31.
The shooter, 40-year-old Bunthoeun Nem, wasn’t convicted until October 2016. He was sentenced to 8½ years in prison for first-degree manslaughter.
On Monday, more than 13 years after the killing, the two men who were with Nem pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
Saravouth Sun, 37, supplied the guns, while Youthy Chim, 36, acted as the getaway driver, according to charging papers. A trial for the pair was set to begin this week.
After the homicide, detectives found clues that the men were involved early on. They discovered the suspects’ Ford Bronco crashed on the side of the road nearby. Phone records showed Nem and Williams had talked to each other in the days — and minutes — leading up to their meeting at the boat launch. But the leads soon dried up, and Williams’ driver wasn’t a helpful witness. The lead detective retired in 2007.
The investigation grew “stale,” according to prosecutors.
Williams’ face was featured in a set of playing cards that describe cold cases in Snohomish County. The decks were first handed out in jails and prisons across the state in 2008 to generate tips. The case was on the 10 of Clubs.
Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives caught a break when they interviewed Chim in 2015. He said he drove the other two defendants to the boat launch, but claimed Nem was the only one who knew about the robbery plot.
In his guilty plea, Nem agreed to testify against the others. He said that they all took part in the planning.
Sentencing for Sun and Chim is scheduled for March 8.
Chim has no other felony history as an adult. Prosecutors and the defense have agreed to recommend 2 years and 3 months in prison.
Attorneys couldn’t agree on a recommendation for Sun. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter said Monday he will seek 7 ½ years.
Sun has previously served time for burglary, drug possession, drug trafficking and firearm-related offenses.