Just one of three people accused of raping, drowning and cutting an 18-year-old Lakewood man in half remain charged with first-degree murder for the crime.
Pierce County prosecutors Wednesday dropped a murder charge against 52-year-old Darrel Arthur Daves in the death of Jesus Isidor-Mendoza.
Instead, Daves pleaded guilty to witness tampering, and Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend gave him a five-year sentence.
Prosecutors offered the woman accused of orchestrating the death a deal to testify against Daves and the other man charged in the October 2014 killing of Isidor-Mendoza, whose body was found in a Tacoma ravine.
But Crystal Share Jackson lied about details, such as whether she knew the victim, and where he was killed, prosecutors said, leading to a mistrial for the men last year.
“Following the mistrial, the state and detectives attempted to discover additional forensic evidence to link Mr. Daves to the crime and to substantiate the portions of Ms. Jackson’s statements implicating Mr. Daves, which we know to be true,” deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer wrote in the order dismissing the murder charge.
“Nearly three years later there is no other evidence linking Mr. Daves to the murder.”
Jackson was the only known witness to the killing, and the only other direct evidence was Daves’ confession to a fellow Pierce County Jail inmate, Ausserer wrote.
With calling Jackson to testify not being an option, that means there isn’t enough evidence to support the murder charge, he said.
Charging papers for the witness tampering charge say Daves told a fellow inmate about the murder, threatened to hurt the man’s daughter if he told and then made the man write a letter implicating someone else.
Daves reportedly said Jackson fronted the victim methamphetamine, and he failed to pay up.
Daves entered an Alford plea for the witness tampering charge. This means he maintains his innocence, but agreed he likely would be convicted at trial.
He declined to address the court at sentencing.
The other man charged in Isidor-Mendoza’s death, 50-year-old Wallace Jackson (no relation to Crystal Jackson), was sentenced to three years, seven months after he pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance after the mistrial.
Crystal Jackson’s case is still pending.
The 32-year-old argues she held up her end of a deal with prosecutors, which could get her just a few years in prison for second-degree manslaughter.
But Ausserer says her lies violated the plea deal, and if the judge agrees, she could face up to 20 for first-degree murder.
Her hearing on the matter continues later this month.