EVERETT — A man in a navy blue suit shook as he stood in court Tuesday, asking a judge to sentence his father’s killer to life in prison.
“What happened to my dad on that night was more than tragic,” Jae An’s son told the courtroom. “It was a nightmare that came to life, a nightmare that you hear about or see in movies.”
Nearly three years have passed since that night. An, 58, of Everett, was working the closing shift at an Everett mini-mart when he was stabbed to death by a stranger, Michealob Johnson.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss ordered Johnson, now 28, to serve a lifetime behind bars for the 2019 killing.
A jury of four men and eight women convicted Johnson earlier this year of aggravated first-degree murder and attempted murder in the first degree.
On April 22, 2019, Johnson made a plan to rob the mini-mart at 6901 Broadway to pay his rent, according to court papers. He lived near the convenience store and had shopped there a few times before, he told police. Armed with three knives, Johnson walked the few blocks from his home. Store security footage shows he arrived around 10 p.m.
The footage shows Johnson walk into the store, grab a bottle and set it on the counter.
An smiled at him.
“He came in and my dad smiled and greeted him, like he did with every customer,” the son told the court. “But my dad had no idea a monster was standing in front of him.”
A few seconds later, Johnson lunged over the counter and attacked An with a knife, stabbing him repeatedly. Johnson never said anything about money before An died of his wounds.
The video shows a woman walking into the mini-mart soon after the attack. Johnson met her at the entrance and tried to slash her throat, too. She caught the blade. The knife broke at the hilt and she escaped.
That woman and her daughter were present at Tuesday’s hearing. The daughter stood and read a statement to the court, saying she was at a loss for words, and that she doesn’t know what she would have done if there was a different outcome.
“You messed with the wrong (expletive),” the daughter said. “That’s what you get for bringing a knife to a gun show.”
Under state guidelines, the only possible sentence Johnson faced was life in prison with no chance of parole.
The judge said he’d presided over many murder trials, but this was the first where the attack was captured on video.
“This was a human slaughter to a man who was kind, who had clientele, certainly a close family. It’s going to impact his family for the rest of their life,” Judge Weiss told the court. “But it even goes way beyond that, because I imagine all of his customers were impacted by it as well.”
Customers honored An’s life at a candlelight vigil days after he was killed.
An’s son described his father as “more than just a dad.” An was his role model, the son said, as well as a mentor who taught him everything he knew. The son told the court he was 8 years old when he moved with his mom and dad from Korea to the United States to earn a piece of the American Dream.
“My dad left everything he had and came here with my mom and I, so that we could have a better life,” the son said. “He didn’t have a college degree, didn’t speak any English and only had a couple hundred dollars in his wallet. But he had a dream. His dream was that one day I would grow up to be successful and have the things he never had.”
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterellen.
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