Man who inadvertently killed friend during Lakewood melee gets 20 years

A successful appeal has saved a man 34 years in prison.

In 2006, Aquarius T. Walker inadvertently shot his friend to death outside a Lakewood tavern.

Walker originally was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 54 years in prison in the death of Tavarrus “Scoot” Moss, but the Washington State Court of Appeals tossed the conviction in 2011, saying Walker did not get a fair trial.

On Friday, the 31-year-old man pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and other charges.

At the recommendation of Pierce County deputy prosecutor John Neeb and defense attorney Barbara Corey, Walker received a sentence of 20 years.

Moss’ mother, Catherine Moore, told Superior Court Judge Garold Johnson before he passed judgment that she was disappointed with the deal Walker reached with Neeb and the much-reduced sentence.

“To me, that’s not fair,” Moore said. “He shot three people and killed my youngest son.”

Johnson pointed out that Walker still would be serving a long stretch in prison.

“I probably won’t be alive by the time he gets out,” the judge said.

Moss, 24, died July 29, 2006.

He, Walker and others had been socializing at a tavern when they got involved in a fight with a group of other men in the parking lot, court records show.

At one point, a man much larger that Moss began getting the better of him, and Walker, who said he feared for his friend’s safety, pulled out a .40-caliber pistol and fired into the crowd.

Moss was hit in the head and died. Two other men also were shot.

Walker said Friday he did not mean to kill his good friend and was trying to save him, but admitted to Neeb’s contention that he’d acted recklessly.

“My heart was in the right place,” Walker said. “My actions were not.”

He then apologized to Moss’ mother, saying he respected the way she feels.

“The only thing I can do is try to become a better man for Scoot,” he said. “He was precious to you. He was precious to me, too.”