Marcus Reed’s young life was a blur of alcohol, guns and criminal convictions by the time he and two other men planned a robbery in 2013.
Just 24, Reed said he was on “a collision course with death” when he and Daniel Davis burst into a Tacoma motel room to steal whatever they could find inside: cell phones, money, maybe drugs.
“I had been destroying myself,” Reed said during his sentencing hearing Friday in Pierce County Superior Court.
It took the death of Donald Phily, shot during the robbery, to make Reed see what his life had become, and, more importantly, to decide to change it, he said.
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“Mr. Phily lost his life. He saved mine,” Reed, now 27, told Judge Michael Schwartz.
However that may be, whatever changes he makes will come behind prison walls.
Schwartz sentenced Reed, who had two previous convictions for “most serious offenses,” to life in prison without the possibility of parole under Washington’s “three strikes you’re out” law.
The sentencing was the culmination of more than two years of pain for Linda Phily, the victim’s mother, who attended numerous hearings and sat through the trial of Reed and co-defendant Damien Davis, who helped to plan to robbery in which Phily, 42, died.
Both were convicted of first-degree murder, and Damien Davis was sentenced last month to 53 years in prison.
Daniel Davis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and got 21 years in prison. Ariel Abrejera, who drove the getaway car, pleaded guilty to robbery and got three years, five months.
Linda Phily was in court Friday but did not address Schwartz, instead submitting a letter that talked about her loss.
“My son and I had many beautiful times, and I loved him and he loved me,” wrote Linda Phily, 69. “I am all alone now.”
Nearly a dozen people attended court to support Reed, including his sister, Ashley Reed.
She told Schwartz her brother, who’d been in and out of the justice system since he was a boy, really never had a chance in life. His life sentence, the only one available to Schwartz under the law, was unfair, she said.
“My brother is a good guy,” she said.
Reed then got his chance to speak.
He denied being the one who shot Phily, as prosecutors have argued, but he admitted he was there that night and shouldn’t have been. He apologized to Linda Phily for her pain.
He vowed to live his life in honor of Phily and to try to make something of himself despite his life sentence.
“I thank God today that I’m alive to give you this testimony,” Reed said.
Schwartz had the last say.
The judge said he was glad Reed acknowledged his mistakes and said he hoped he held true to his promise to be a better person going forward.
“That time you spend in the Department of Corrections can be put to good use by talking to other young men who may find themselves in your situation later on,” Schwartz said. “That gives value to Mr. Phily’s life.
“If you can prevent that from happening one other time, that gives value to Mr. Phily’s life, and you will have accomplished something.”