Crime

A teenager who accidentally shot and killed his friend in Tacoma has been sentenced

Dorricko Jovell Jimerson-Easterling enters court, accused of fatally shooting his friend in a parked car on Marine View Drive

17-year-old Dorricko Jovell Jimerson-Easterling enters Pierce County Superior Court, December 10, 2018. He is accused of fatally shooting his friend in a parked car on Marine View Drive.
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17-year-old Dorricko Jovell Jimerson-Easterling enters Pierce County Superior Court, December 10, 2018. He is accused of fatally shooting his friend in a parked car on Marine View Drive.

Antonio Malik Douglas was the sort of teenager others looked up to, his family said.

That included 17-year-old Dorricko Jovell Jimerson-Easterling, who was sentenced Monday for the accidental shooting that killed 17-year-old Douglas last year.

Jimerson-Easterling pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and unlawful gun possession as part of an agreement that resolved his case in juvenile rather than adult court.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson sentenced him to about three years in Juvenile Rehabilitation, which is what both the defense and prosecution recommended.

Charging papers say Jimerson-Easterling and others were smoking marijuana in a parked car and passing a handgun around while stopped at a pullout Dec. 4 last year in the 3700 block of Marine View Drive.

Jimerson-Easterling allegedly told investigators he didn’t think the gun was loaded and that he took the clip out and pulled the trigger. Douglas, in the driver’s seat, was hit in the torso.

The group did not immediately take Douglas to the hospital, the charging papers say.

“You chose not to love Malik the way you should have as his friend,” Douglas’ aunt Alicia Streator said at the sentencing.

She said Douglas loved his family, wrestling and football and that his brothers looked up to him.

Cuthbertson looked at photos that the family brought and said that Douglas looked like a leader.

“It’s a very significant loss not just for the family, but for the community,” he said.

Ayana Brown, another aunt, told the court that Douglas was quick to offer to help her around her house.

“He was my little handyman,” she said.

Brown told Jimerson-Easterling: “You guys passed three hospitals. ... You’re responsible for living two lives now.”

Douglas’ mother, Alexis Broussard, told the teenager tearfully that forgiveness will take her some time.

But she wanted him to know: “I don’t hate you, I just wish you would have made a better decision. ... I’m glad that you’ll be able to get the help that you need, because my son was not a hater.”

She misses her son’s smile, and his embrace, she said.

He was a hugger.

She has a tattoo near her heart in his honor that says: “#maliklives.”

“You decided his fate,” she told Jimerson-Easterling. “You played God with his life by not taking him to get medical attention as soon as the gun went off.”

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Antonio Malik Douglas, clockwise: at middle school graduation, with mother Alexis Broussard, standing, posing for a football photo in middle school. Family courtesy photos

She said Douglas was a great son and big brother.

His two year-old sibling walks around crying for Douglas, she said, and he gives his urn kisses.

“Love is kind Dorricko,” she said to the teenager. “I hope you receive a lot of it.”

Defense attorney Kelsey Page told the court that Douglas was probably the most positive peer influence in Jimerson-Easterling’s life.

Douglas encouraged Jimerson-Easterling to go to school, and to take care of his family, she said.

Jimerson-Easterling himself told the court that he was deeply sorry for the accident and that Douglas had been like a big brother to him.

He also wrote a letter to the court, in which he said he and Douglas had goals to get good jobs and a house together. Jimerson-Easterling wants to train to be a mechanic.

He said he was scared to tell police the truth about what happened because he didn’t want to go to jail.

He also wrote that he has flashbacks of the shooting, of the last time Douglas looked at him.

He can’t imagine, he said, what Douglas’ family is going through.

Cuthbertson said that at a Juvenile Rehabilitation facility: “he can get an education, which is something that he looked to Malik for,” as well as mental health services and job training.

“Playing with a gun was ridiculous,” the judge told the teenager. “It made no sense.”

He said he believes Jimerson-Easterling wants to be a better person and that he needs to figure out his mistakes.

“If somebody gets shot, go to the hospital,” Cuthbertson said, punctuating each word by lightly pounding his fist on the bench. “... Once your friend is hurt or sick, you have to work immediately to deal with them.”

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Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.
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