Two 16-year-old boys have been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a Tacoma man who reportedly ran across them after he left home in the middle of the night to look for his lost dog.
Marcus R. Langford appeared in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Judge Kathryn Nelson ordered him jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
Nelson also issued an arrest warrant for James Stimson Jr., who faces identical charges. Police were seeking him late Wednesday.
Both teens, who are suspected of associating with a Tacoma street gang, are being prosecuted as adults.
David Watson, 45, died Nov. 18 after being shot once in the torso. His brother, Jonathan, attended Langford’s arraignment. He said outside court he was glad Langford had been arrested and hoped police would find Stimson soon.
“I want justice for my brother,” said Jonathan Watson, who said his brother was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“It’s an absolutely senseless crime,” he said.
The shooting occurred about 3 a.m. in the parking lot of a convenience store at South 56th and South Lawrence streets in Tacoma. Surveillance from the store’s cameras shows two young men later identified as Stimson and Langford talking to Watson, who was standing next to his pickup.
At some point, Watson, who appeared drunk, got back into his truck.
“Stimson reached into the cab of the truck,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. “Based on the reaction of Stimson and Langford as seen in the video, it appears Stimson shot Watson.”
The teens then ran away, and Watson drove off. He made it a couple of blocks before his pickup ran off the road and into a park, where he was found by nearby residents with his dog with him.
He later died at the hospital. The dog was OK.
Police used descriptions of the young men’s clothing and other clues to identify Langford and Stimson, court records show.
A relative of Stimson’s who reported to police several months ago that she suspected him in the theft of two of her husband’s guns called investigators Nov. 18 to say he’d returned a .380-caliber pistol that day, the records show.
The Medical Examiner’s Office determined Watson was killed with what appeared to be a .380-caliber handgun.
Detectives arrested Langford on Tuesday night while investigating an unrelated shooting on Tacoma’s East Side. He initially denied being present when Watson was shot but later said he was there, court records show.
Langford said he and Stimson had attended a party near Lincoln High School and were walking to a house near the convenience store when they came across Watson, the records state.
“Langford said that a conversation took place during which Watson gave Stimson $5 cash,” according to court records. “At some point Stimson ordered Watson to give him ‘all you got.’”
It was then that Stimson allegedly reached into the pickup.
“Langford said Watson laughed and grabbed the gun,” court records show. “Langford said the gun fired. Langford said Stimson later claimed that … Stimson was unsure whether Watson pulled the trigger or Stimson did.”