Kent, WA – The convicted felon, sentenced to life in prison, who was the inspiration for Washington State’s “Three Strikes Law” is now accused or murder after his release.
Former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire commuted the prison sentence of chronic violent offender Stonney Marcus Rivers, 50, who had been sentenced to life without parole under the state’s Persistent Offender Accountability Act, known as the “Three Strikes Law.”
The law automatically sentences chronic violent offenders to life without parole upon their third felony conviction.
Rivers’ sentence was commuted by then-Gov. Gregoire in 2013, just days before her term ended, and he was released from prison in early 2015, according to KIRO.
Now police have charged him with a murder.
On Nov. 2, police officers responded to the Golden Kent Motel on 84th Avenue South for a shots fired call.
Upon arrival, they found the victim, David Cabrera, dead in Room 18.
Police said that Cabrera was shot in the face in front of his girlfriend during what they suspected was a drug deal.
Nearby Mill Creek Middle School was placed on lockdown during the incident.
Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said that surveillance video showed Rivers leaving the scene.
"We believe it was Mr. Rivers that pulled the trigger. We certainly know, if Mr. Rivers' sentence wasn't commuted, he wouldn't be out of custody and he would not have committed that crime,” Chief Thomas said.
Court records showed that Rivers had a lengthy, violent criminal history that included multiple convictions for robbery and assault, and "a propensity for violence that creates a substantial likelihood of danger to the community."
Rivers’ criminal history was used as an example by policymakers who created Washington's three strikes law in the 1990s.
"He became one of the first cases in our state that was eligible for 'three strikes, you're out,'” Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center told KIRO on Tuesday.
“He was sentenced to life, so the system worked, and for every day he stayed in jail, the public was safe,” Guppy said.
"In this case, he was released and he committed another violent crime. It's a stunning failure of a system that was put into place by the voters of our state to protect the public from exactly this kind of person,” he said.
KIRO asked former Governor Gregoire for comment, and received this statement from her former chief of staff, Marty Loesch:
"King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, the Clemency and Pardons Board and the sentencing judge, Kathleen Learned, recommended the commutation of the sentence of Mr. Stonney Marcus Rivers to me in 2013. Their recommendations carried great weight with me.
Mr. Rivers had been sentenced to life without possibility of parole soon after the passage of Washington’s Persistent Offender Accountability Act, the so-called ‘Three Strikes Law’ for the crime of Robbery 2 and by the time of his release had served twenty years in prison. Robbery 2 typically results in a sentence of two to three years.
Based on these recommendations and the facts available at the time, to include his performance while in prison, I conditionally commuted Mr. Rivers sentence to his time served subject to compliance with twenty-one different conditions. The allegations against him suggest that he violated these conditions and should be returned to prison for the rest of his life. My heart goes out to the victim, family and friends.”
A second suspect, Theneious Fisteral Swafford, age 47, has been charged as an accomplice in the case. Detectives believe Swafford, also a convicted felon, drove Rivers to and from the crime scene.