EVERETT — David Webster’s friends stood up for him Thursday.
They loved him. They could count on him to build a deck, to fix a broken down car or to hold their hands when they were sick. They miss his deep voice, the bounce in his step and the laughs. He was a father and a grandfather. His friends called him “Doc.”
Sure he had his troubles, but his life meant something to the five women who came to ask for justice on his behalf.
“He was more than a homeless man. He had friends and family that loved him,” one woman said. “I miss David. I really miss him. He was my friend.”
Webster’s body was found last year partially submerged in a swampy area between I-5 and some railroad tracks in Everett. He’d been stuffed in a sleeping bag. An autopsy revealed that Webster, 54, had been strangled with a bungee cord. A pair of underwear had been shoved in his mouth and he’d been beaten.
“David Webster was tortured to death,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas said Thursday.
The judge sentenced Christine Simpson to 8½ years in prison for her part in Webster’s death. Simpson, 50, earlier this month pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors agreed to reduce a first-degree murder charge in exchange for the guilty plea. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Toni Montgomery told the judge that there would have been significant proof issues if the case had gone to trial.
Simpson’s boyfriend, James Archer, remains charged with first-degree murder. He is accused of attacking Webster, binding his hands and feet and tying him to a tree. He allegedly cut him loose when he realized the victim wasn’t breathing. He later dragged Webster’s body into a swampy area.
“Ms. Simpson put the ball in motion that ultimately led to (Webster’s) death,” Montgomery said.
Simpson told Everett police detectives that she was upset over $300. She claimed she gave Webster the money to buy methamphetamine. She was known to deal drugs in the camp where she lived. When Webster didn’t come back with the drugs or cash she asked for Archer’s help to deal with the situation.
There also was some evidence that she was present when Archer bound Webster and wrapped the cord around his neck, Montgomery said.
Simpson’s attorney. Gurjit Pandher, who asked for a low-end sentence, argued that his client didn’t know her request would result in violence. He said Simpson, who doesn’t have any prior felony convictions, deserved leniency.
The defendant said Thursday she “had no idea my words would set into motion this horrible event.” She told Lucas she looks forward to changing her life and being productive once she’s released from prison.
Lucas said the defendant had already received a significant break when the charge was changed. He couldn’t see a reason to give her anything less than a maximum sentence.
The judge thanked Webster’s friends for speaking on the slain man’s behalf. A person who can take another’s life must believe the victim is insignificant, Lucas said.
“No one deserves to be treated as a non-entity,” he said. “No human being deserves that.”
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.