Bushaw Murder Trial Is Pre-Empted by Surprise Pleas

The high-profile case gets a last-minute twist.

There's a reason why only one of our 52 issues this year will be devoted entirely to West Seattle: the peninsula already has its own newspaper, without the paper. Reformed television producer Tracy Record has been reporting, editing, and everything else-ing the hell out of West Seattle on westseattleblog.com since a serious windstorm struck the neighborhood in 2006. In those four short years, Record has managed to put the hype in hyperlocal, getting feted by such august publications as Time, Newsweek, and yours truly, which awarded her last year's Best Of™ honor for neighborhood blogs. Normally this space is where you'd find news from all over. But staying true to theme, we decided that all that's fit to print has to somehow fit in West Seattle. Take it away, Tracy.***** Almost two full years after 26-year-old Steve Bushaw was shot and killed in the Junction on Super Bowl night, two suspects have unexpectedly agreed to plea deals, thereby making the case halfway closed.Late on the night of February 1, 2009, Bushaw ran into Talarico's and told employees to call 911. He said he'd been shot twice, but there was little blood to be seen on his shirt and his injuries didn't appear life-threatening. Nevertheless, hours later he was pronounced dead.

Family and friends of Bushaw, a West Seattle High School graduate whose local roots ran deep, set up a memorial outside Talarico's, writing condolences and memories on posterboard. Then, 10 months later, police announced that they'd found their men.

With the arrests of Bryce Huber, Brandon Chaney, Danny O'Neal Jr., and John Sylve, the Bushaw family was finally given a chance to hear the story behind Steve's shooting—one difficult for some of them to hear.According to charging documents, Bushaw had been selling marijuana when one of his suppliers was robbed. Although there was no evidence he'd been involved, police alleged that in the days after the holdup Bushaw feared for his life, and surmised that he was murdered in retaliation.Police alleged that Huber was the mastermind. In charging documents, they showed that he was the one who called Bushaw to set up a meeting that night, then asked him to go outside "for a smoke." That's when police say O'Neal and Sylve showed up and opened fire, getting away in a car allegedly driven by Chaney.

The four defendants have spent the past 13 months in jail, all with bails of $750,000 or higher. Their complicated, multi-defendant trial was to begin last Monday. Yet that morning, prosecutors announced they'd reached a last-minute deal with O'Neal, one of the alleged triggermen.As part of the agreement, O'Neal will plead guilty to second-degree murder with a firearms enhancement, and the state will recommend the lower end of the sentencing range: at least 10 years (though the judge is not bound to honor that), plus 16 months for the firearms enhancement. Five days later, Sylve, the other alleged triggerman, struck the same plea bargain.Click here for the original story

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