A one-time gang member who robbed children of their Halloween candy at gunpoint allegedly has blown the second chance given him earlier this year.
Zyion Houston-Sconiers, 23, was arrested Tuesday after a Tacoma police gang unit working a street crime emphasis stopped the car he was riding in and officers found a gun and drugs in a backpack near him.
Officers stopped the car about 4:30 p.m. in the 1400 block of South Grant Avenue when the driver failed to use a turn signal. They decided to let the driver off with a citation for not having a valid driver’s license but asked to search the car after noticing “furtive movements that appeared to be associated with the glove compartment,” according to charging papers.
The driver, Houston-Sconiers and the front seat passenger reportedly consented to the search.
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Officers found a backpack next to Houston-Sconiers. Inside was a pistol, 13 packages of heroin and prescription medication with Houston-Sconiers’ name on it, according to the court documents.
Houston-Sconiers was charged Wednesday with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty at the arraignment, and was ordered held in jail in lieu of $20,000 bail. He appeared matter-of-fact during the proceeding.
Arrogrance Wood, who identified herself as Houston-Sconiers’ girlfriend, told The News Tribune outside court: “He’s innocent until proven guilty. They were wrong once. They could be wrong again.”
Houston-Sconiers first made headlines in 2012 when he and Treson Lee Roberts carried a .32-caliber revolver around the city on Halloween night and robbed several teenagers of candy and cellphones.
Houston-Sconiers was 17 then and a Hilltop Crip with a prior record. Roberts was 16.
Pierce County prosecutors charged the two as adults and they were convicted of first-degree robbery. Houston-Sconiers was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
In June 2017, Superior Court Judge John Hickman reduced the sentence, knocking off 20 years.
“You know what the neck of a giraffe looks like?” Hickman asked Houston-Sconiers. “Well, that’s my neck in regards to what I’ve done for you today.”
Houston-Sconiers was released from prison in May.
His willingness to take responsibility for his mistakes, completion of several self-improvement and education programs and outspoken plan about how to turn his life around garnered him support from the judge, his attorney and State Sen. Jeanne Darneille, D-Tacoma.
Houston-Sconier wrote an eight-page letter to the judge last year, saying, “Given a second chance I’m asking that you continue to hold me accountable and to my word.”
“... I can guarantee once I apply myself to life and society outside these walls it will be clear that not only am I worth my freedom but my work will produce positive outcomes from my purist intentions.”
He got a job at a local lumber yard.
In late October, he spoke to students at Jason Lee Middle School, trying to offer the direction he said he lacked in his young life.
“You can make a change,” he told The News Tribune two months ago, “and it can be your change.”