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Willard JIMERSON Jr.





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (13) - For no apparent reason
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 11, 1994
Date of birth: 1980
Victim profile: Jamie Lynn Wilson, 14
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: King County, Washington, USA
Status: Sentenced to 23 years in prison in September 1994

Willard Jimerson, 13: Sentenced to 23 years in prison for first-degree murder in King County in 1994 for shooting 14-year-old Jamie Lynn Wilson near Garfield High School.

In March 1994, Jimerson and other kids were out in a park just before midnight, messing around. They’d been drinking 40-ounce bottles of Old English and smoking marijuana. They came upon Jamie Lynn Wilson, who was minding her own business, but a young girl with Jimerson’s group decided to revive a school dispute she had with Wilson. She was confronted, alone, by the group. She broke away and ran from the fight. After a long run, she tired and the others caught up to her and beat her up. Jimerson was holding the coats of the fighters. Then, he found a gun in one of the coats — and shot at Wilson, killing her. He was charged with aggravated first-degree murder.


Growing up behind bars

ailed for murder at 13, Jimerson talks of lives denies

By Claudia Rowe -

April 12, 2006

Willard Jimerson Jr. hadn't made it out of seventh grade when he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for shooting a 14-year-old girl in the back.

Barely 5 feet tall and, at 13, one of the youngest people in state history to stand trial as an adult, Jimerson sat, his feet dangling beneath the defense table, as he listened to testimony about that night -- how he had watched Jamie Lynn Wilson flee a gang of schoolmates and fall to the sidewalk; how he pulled out a gun and fired it as she begged for help.

Locked away since 1994, Jimerson, now 25, remains frozen in early adolescence. He has never driven a car, used e-mail or balanced a checkbook. Though he married last year -- to the sister of a fellow inmate -- the two have never been intimate, because conjugal visits are not permitted for prisoners who wed while locked up. But for those who enter as children, Jimerson believes, the rule is absurd.

Recent research on the developing brains of young people has led some legal experts to question the tough stand taken toward children such as Jimerson during the 1990s, when conscienceless youth seemed to be killing just for the thrill of it. But cases like his continue to crop up on court dockets.

A 15-year-old accused of bludgeoning his playmate to death three years ago went on trial this week as an adult in Ephrata and faces 26 years in prison if convicted. In May, a judge could decide that a 13-year-old charged with fatally stabbing his grandmother last month be treated similarly. Since 2000, more than 900 juveniles have been sentenced as adults in Washington.

In Jimerson's case, King County prosecutors, who portrayed the boy as a stunningly cold killer well on his way to becoming a career criminal, remain convinced that justice was served.

But last year a MacArthur Foundation study found that many juveniles -- particularly those under 14 -- are not competent to stand trial, and the U.S. Supreme Court, citing that research, abolished capital punishment for all offenders under 18.

Back in Seattle, even Wilson's mother, Carolyn Prentice, winces at the notion of a young man having spent half his life in prison.

From Jimerson's point of view, the central problem of his sentence is its disregard for child development -- the fact that his brain has changed, simply as a function of growing up. He entered prison as a boy-brawler, grew up largely in segregation, then began to scour the Quran for answers about his deeds.

"I was incarcerated six weeks after my 13th birthday," he said in a telephone interview from the McNeil Island Correctional Facility. "And that person, honestly, does not exist any more."

Courts were unmoved

For those who recall his boyish demeanor -- Jimerson was a tender-looking child -- the most immediately notable effect of his time in prison is the physical transformation. The once-scrawny youngster has packed on 90 pounds of muscle -- "armor," he calls it -- motivated mainly by his terror of falling prey to other inmates.

"They find out you're the 13-year-old, and everybody wants to talk to you," he said. "They know you're, like, the entertainment."

Initially, however, Jimerson had little to worry about. After sentencing, the Department of Corrections kept its young charge locked in virtual isolation as officials scrambled to plan his future. One hour a day, he was allowed, alone, into a cinderblock yard.

For Jimerson, growing up behind bars has been, above all, an education in endurance, in thinking constantly about the future. But on March 11, 1994, the night he killed Jamie Wilson as a 25-year-old friend watched, Jimerson was focused only on the thrill of a street fight, the pumping adrenaline of the moment.

Afterward, he showed no remorse. Other kids said he'd bragged about it.

Yet at a maturity hearing, convened to determine whether the child should be handled in the juvenile system or prosecuted as an adult, an evaluating psychologist described Jimerson as an immature, emotionally fragile boy. He felt abandoned by his parents -- a mother with a string of convictions for prostitution, a father who'd recently pleaded guilty to possessing rock cocaine -- and clung desperately to the grandmother who'd raised him, the doctor said. The treatment-oriented youth system was where Jimerson belonged, she insisted, not the Department of Corrections.

The courts were unmoved. In juvenile, Jimerson could be held only until his 21st birthday.

"Given the seriousness of this crime, eight years was simply not enough," Dan Satterberg, chief of staff in the King County Prosecutor's Office, said recently. "Not enough punishment for him, and not enough security for us."

Jimerson was no first-timer, prosecutors noted. He'd been convicted of theft and assault three times by the age of 12, and his family did little to help his case. They threatened witnesses in court. They screamed at Wilson's mother. After two days of deliberations in the murder trial, the jury returned its verdict. Only then did the boy begin to cry.

'It was unbearable'

Incarceration turned out to be more like home than Jimerson had expected. At Maple Lane School, where he was sent to a maximum-security unit at 14, there were crowds of kids from the neighborhood also facing state prison sentences. To prepare, they fought over shower stalls and cafeteria tables. They made urine-and-milk-carton "milkshakes" for throwing at guards -- anything to mimic adult-inmate society. By 16, Jimerson was a veteran.

Despite the forced camaraderie, days were shaped mainly by loneliness. When teachers knocked on Jimerson's cell door to offer help with a social studies text ("Contemporary World Problems"), he always accepted -- mostly for the company.

"That's something you don't prepare for, isolation and solitude like that," he said. "At the time, honestly, it felt overwhelming to me. It was unbearable."

In dreams, Jimerson saw Jamie holding her hands over his body -- praying, he thought. But her family, more likely, was cursing him. Carolyn Prentice said her husband, unable to tolerate the trial, spent most of it at the local bar. Within a few years, they divorced. Her five remaining children vented their rage on one another, fighting constantly, and Mark, the eldest, began drinking to incapacity. In 2004, wandering a highway at night, he was hit by a car and killed.

A weary woman, Prentice has spent 10 years trying to understand her daughter's murder. The girl had disobeyed her, sneaking out of the bedroom window to run with friends hours before Jimerson shot her.

"It was peer pressure," Prentice said. "She wanted to fit in."

Both Jimerson and his victim were young, rebellious and heedless of the future. But to King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, the boy embodied a new class of kids devoid of humanity -- "totally without empathy or feelings of right and wrong," he said at the time.

'Intent was to have fun'

In a series of recent interviews, Jimerson struggled to explain. "You kind of feel separated -- you and the details of the case," he said. "You know that that happened -- 'OK, that did occur, this did happen' -- but the intent, or the way they're trying to say it went about -- no, that's not how it went down."

His understanding of consequence, Jimerson added, was cartoon-like, unreal. He knew a gun could kill, but the true weight of permanence was simply absent. He didn't want Jamie dead. He had no feelings about her at all. The two had never even met.

"I wasn't mad or angry or upset with anyone," he said. "As a kid, you don't understand the ramifications, that this person is gone for the rest of their life. Your intent is never to harm them. Your intent is not to kill them. Your intent was to have fun."

Pat Arthur, senior attorney for juvenile justice issues at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, Calif., believes sentencing such a youngster to adult time is unconscionable. Without exception, she said, children such as Jimerson are either segregated for their own protection or forced to defend themselves.

"If you aren't able to fight back in the prison culture, you will end up getting -- in the words of prisoners themselves -- punked," Arthur said. "Either way, we're not giving these children a chance to grow or to change. If it happens at all, it's only despite what we're doing."

During his 12 years in prison, Jimerson has never discussed his crime with a therapist. None has been offered. Questions from a reporter about that night and its aftermath were the first he'd had to answer since being convicted. Often, he blamed his crime on circumstance -- a blighted environment and lack of strong role models, a world where running the streets at 13 was normal. Yet he also spoke repeatedly of someday giving his prison-earned high school diploma to Wilson's mother because her daughter never had a chance to get one. He envisions himself eventually counseling at-risk youth.

"I feel like I have an obligation to live for two people now," he said. "A life was taken that shouldn't have been so I'm obligated to make sure that next person does get a chance to live. I don't want to see nobody else go through this, I really don't -- on both sides."

There is little possibility that such statements will win Jimerson a significant sentence reduction. Even with time trimmed for good behavior, his earliest possible release date is 2014, when he will be 33.

Meanwhile, he prepares.

On a sunny day last May, Jimerson stood in a cap and gown, his round face beaming as he stood before a class of fellow inmates, about to graduate from the Pierce College prison program. "Do not belong to your circumstances, but rise above them," he urged other students, before leaving the stage with a certificate in building maintenance.

He'd grabbed at the chance to be class speaker, inviting his father and wife to witness this moment as ersatz valedictorian on the chapel podium.

Afterward, at a punch-and-cookies reception, the prison buddies swarmed with high-fives and cheers. It was not Jimerson they circled like a star, but his father, Willard Sr. -- 52 years old, with a lengthy rap sheet and greeted as a celebrity of the streets. The older man rarely visits his son because he dislikes the boat ride to McNeil Island, but now, wearing a black bowler and sunglasses, he drank the attention in. Off to the side, scowling and confused, young Willard waited for his turn in the spotlight.

"My father's really a character, isn't he?" he said later, ducking his head shyly.

Jimerson's evolution from unrepentant hoodlum to aspiring youth worker took place largely in solitary confinement. Between punishments for fighting and earlier sequesters for his own protection, Inmate No. 727804 had racked up more than 17 months in isolation by his 20th birthday. Older inmates locked in their own segregated cells whispered warnings: "Youngster, you don't want to be like me," one said.

Letters from his beloved grandmother Florene offered solace. "You'll be home one of these days, and I can't wait till you get here," she'd write.

Reading afforded a sense of escape. At first, the books were pure entertainment. Dean Koontz was a favorite. But Jimerson quickly moved on to Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Alex Haley. In his mind, he became Malcolm X. He wondered about Islam. He began leafing through the Quran and wrote letters to authors who had moved him.

Interest in Islam grows

One afternoon, while riding an exercise bike in the prison gym, an officer commanded him back to the unit. His case manager wanted a word.

"You need to sit down," she said, dialing a phone number as 17-year-old Jimerson presented himself. "I'm calling your cousin, Flossie."

Crisply, she explained: Jimerson's grandmother had been ill. Now she was dead. Prison officials were arranging for his attendance at her funeral.

"My Grandma? She can't die," he recalled saying in his squeaky voice. "She was my only hope -- my only reason." In the administrator's office, the teenage murderer ducked his head and sobbed.

Six days later, cuffed, shackled and flanked by armed guards, Jimerson rode through his old neighborhood to attend the service at Greater Mount Baker Church. He passed once-empty lots now seeded with Starbucks cafes and video stores. He told his driver to make a turn at the Thriftway, but the Thriftway was gone. At the church, he shuffled toward his grandmother's coffin, past childhood friends now grown and married, and kissed Florene on the forehead. Afterward, he refused to leave his cell for three days. As soon as he did, Jimerson was fighting again. Then it was back to solitary.

By the time he was 18 and transferred to Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, older inmates -- men with names such as "Knowledge" and "X" -- were welcoming him into the fold.

But there, in a prison where death row prisoners await execution and few friends would visit, Jimerson's fledging interest in Islam blossomed. Within a year, he was learning Arabic and tutoring others. Two years after that, Jimerson had earned a transfer to minimum-security McNeil Island, and since 2003, he has taken almost every vocational course available: from janitorial technology to nutrition, computer training and, his current favorite, psychology.

"That's something I'm really interested in -- why people do the things they do," he said. "Is intelligence a genetic thing or do some people come from intelligence backgrounds?"

Until last month, when officials sanctioned him for inciting a demonstration, he had been a model prisoner for five years.

In his mind, life outside the walls, where most everyone has their own car and moves freely through space, glows like a luminous vision. But his prospects, post-prison, are not bright. When released, Jimerson will be a grown man with a felony murder conviction, minimal education and an estimated $36,000 in court fines.

"It was scary, initially, coming in," he said. "But I guarantee you it's going to be just as scary getting out."

Back in Seattle, Jamie Wilson's mother also ponders that moment. She lives alone now behind Northgate Mall in a small apartment, where every surface is covered with pictures of family. She thought, with all his apparent changes, that she might like to meet Jimerson some day. He was just a kid, after all, like her daughter who smiles still from a golden frame on a wall near the kitchen.


State v. Williams

Washington Court of Appeals

August 25, 1997


Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 94-1-03582-3. Date filed: 11/28/94. Judge signing: Hon. Norma S. Huggins.

Authored by Susan R. Agid. Concurring: C. Kenneth Grosse, Ann L. Ellington.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Agid

AGID, J. -- Kaai Williams and Willard Jimerson appeal their convictions for the first degree murder of 14-year-old Jamie Wilson. Williams argues that the trial court erred in granting the State's motion to join his trial with Jimerson's and in denying his motion to sever. He also contends that his right to a speedy trial was violated and that the court erroneously admitted hearsay statements under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule. Jimerson contends that the juvenile court abused its discretion when it declined jurisdiction. He also argues that there is insufficient evidence to support either premeditation or accomplice liability. We reject both Williams's and Jimerson's arguments and affirm.


Just after midnight on March 11, 1994, 14-year-old Jamie Wilson was shot to death on a street near Garfield High School. Earlier that evening, a group of about eight young people, most of them teenagers, gathered at an arcade on Yesler Street to play video games. The group included both Williams and 13-year-old Jimerson. Sometime after 10:30 p.m., the group left and walked to nearby Spruce Park. While they were at the park, Williams fired gunshots into the ground at April Winfrey's feet to make her "dance." The gun was one 14-year-old April had given Williams at the arcade. After Williams fired the gun, April retrieved it from a yard where it was thrown.

The group left the park to walk to a mini-market about six blocks away. As they neared the mini-market, 15-year-old Adrienne Smith saw Jamie across the street. Led by April, the group crossed the street and began hitting and kicking Jamie. Jamie broke free and ran down the street toward Garfield High School. April chased her and caught her. When the others caught up, they again began to hit and kick Jamie. Jamie lay on the ground asking them to stop. Several women in a nearby apartment building also yelled at them to stop and threatened to call police. During a pause in the fighting, Jamie pulled herself up to a seated position at the edge of the curb. As she did so, Jimerson walked up behind her and shot her twice from a distance of two or three feet. The gun he used was the gun Williams had fired in Spruce Park. He then handed the gun to Williams. Jamie lay on the ground calling for help and appeared to be having trouble breathing. Williams then walked up, said, "Rest in peace, bitch," and shot Jamie with the same gun from about four feet away. After Williams shot her, Jamie slumped over. The group gathered by a log barrier a short distance away. Williams and Jimerson were laughing about what had just happened. Jimerson then ran off through Garfield High School and the rest of the group walked up Jefferson Street together.

After the group left, the women in the nearby apartment building who had called police ran over and tried to help Jamie. When police arrived, they obtained a description of an individual who had shot Jamie from one of the women. Based on that description, they stopped the group as they walked up Jefferson. Williams, who matched the description, was with the group.

Jamie was pronounced dead at the hospital. The medical examiner later determined that Jamie had three gunshot wounds: one to the left arm and one to the chest had entered from the back; one to the left pelvic region had entered from the front. The cause of death was the gunshot wound to the chest which had perforated Jamie's heart, lung, liver and stomach. The medical examiner opined that Jamie would have experienced difficulty in breathing and gone into irreversible shock 5 to 15 minutes after the shot.

Jimerson and Williams were each charged with first degree murder in complicity with another. On June 2, 1994, the juvenile court declined jurisdiction over 13-year-old Jimerson and remanded his case to adult court. On June 7, the trial court joined the defendants for trial. Jimerson requested a trial date past Williams's speedy trial expiration date of June 10 to prepare for trial. The trial court granted his request and set trial for July 25 over Williams's objection. On July 6, Williams requested an additional extension to give him more time to investigate witnesses who had come to light since the defendants were joined. Trial began on August 23. At the Conclusion of trial, the jury found both Jimerson and Williams guilty of first degree murder. The trial court sentenced both within the standard range and ordered that Jimerson be detained by the Department of Youth Services until his 18th birthday.


I. Joinder

Williams first argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted the State's motion to join his trial with Jimerson's. CrR 4.3(b) provides that the trials of two defendants may be joined under the following circumstances:

(1) When each of the defendants is charged with accountability for each offense included; . . . or (3) When, even if conspiracy is not charged and all of the defendants are not charged in each count, it is alleged that the several offenses charged:

(i) were part of a common scheme or plan; or (ii) were so closely connected in respect to time, place and occasion that it would be difficult to separate proof of one charge from proof of the others. The charge against both Williams and Jimerson--first degree murder of Jamie Wilson in complicity with another or, in the alternative, second degree murder--alone is sufficient to permit joinder under CrR 4.3(b). Even if Williams and Jimerson had not been charged with the same offense, joinder would have been permissible. Because each was accused of shooting Jamie within minutes of the other and in the course of the same incident with the same gun, it would have been virtually impossible to separate proof of one charge from proof of the other. For both reasons, joinder was proper.

Williams argues nevertheless that the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever his trial from Jimerson's. See CrR 4.4(c); State v. Hoffman, 116 Wash. 2d 51, 74, 804 P.2d 577 (1991) (order denying motion to sever will not be disturbed on appeal absent a manifest abuse of the trial court's discretion). Separate trials are not favored in Washington, and the defendant seeking severance has the burden of coming forward with sufficient facts to show that a joint trial would be so manifestly prejudicial as to outweigh the concern for judicial economy. Hoffman, 116 Wash. 2d at 74.

Williams argues that he was prejudiced by the trial court's refusal to sever his trial from Jimerson's because (1) Shaulaun Banks, another member of the group of young people present on the night of the shooting who left the state after Jimerson's decline hearing, i.e., at about the time the defendants were joined for trial, might have been available as a witness had the trial been held earlier, and (2) there was additional time for more evidence of threats made against witnesses to accumulate. First, Shaulaun Banks did leave the state after Jimerson's decline hearing, but she had returned to Seattle by the time of trial. While the record reflects that she appeared to be trying to avoid police after her return, she was presumably as available as she would have been had Williams's case gone to trial in early June. Second, there was nothing about the threat evidence that resulted in any significant prejudice to Williams. Tequila Wilson did testify that she was threatened, but she did not implicate Williams as the source of those threats. In any event, her testimony about the threats she had received was stricken and the jury was instructed to disregard it entirely. See State v. Russell, 125 Wash. 2d 24, 84, 882 P.2d 747 (1994) (courts presume jurors follow instructions to disregard improper evidence), cert. denied, 131 L. Ed. 2d 1005, 115 S. Ct. 2004 (1995). Similarly, while Jimerson testified that he heard from others that Williams had threatened him, he also testified that Williams did not threaten him directly. To the extent that there was any evidence of threats against witnesses by Jimerson, it is unlikely that evidence prejudiced Williams. Cf. Hoffman, 116 Wash. 2d at 74-75 (rejecting the argument that one defendant's objectionable reputation might rub off on the other). Williams was convicted based on the testimony of several witnesses who saw him shoot Jamie. Given the strength of this evidence, there is no reasonable likelihood that the threat evidence affected the jury's verdict.

Williams also contends that the joinder order prejudiced him because he was incarcerated for more than the 60 days provided for in CrR 3.3(c)(1) while awaiting trial. Trial within 60 days is not a constitutional mandate. Hoffman, 116 Wash. 2d at 77. Unless the defendant can demonstrate actual prejudice from the delay, a trial court's decision to continue a joint trial past one defendant's speedy trial date to provide counsel for a codefendant adequate time to prepare for trial is not an abuse of discretion. State v. Dent, 123 Wash. 2d 467, 484, 869 P.2d 392 (1994) (delay of just over two months). Williams himself requested the second continuance and signed a speedy trial waiver to August 16, in part to accommodate his own attorney's schedule. The trial court properly weighed Williams's interest in a speedy trial against the considerable burden separate trials would have placed on the court, jurors and witnesses. See Dent, 123 Wash. 2d at 484. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Williams's motion to sever.

II. Excited Utterance

Williams also argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to exclude testimony by several officers about statements made by a woman known as "Punkin" at the scene of the crime. He is particularly concerned about the officers' testimony that "Punkin" told them "the person that did the shooting was a black male, juvenile or early twenties, wearing a plaid shirt or jacket and wearing a black cap." The trial court admitted the officers' testimony under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule. See ER 803(a)(2) (an excited utterance is a "statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition"). Williams argues that, because "Punkin" was unidentified and not under the influence of any traumatic event, the testimony was not admissible. We will not reverse the admission of evidence under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule absent an abuse of discretion and, for that reason, decline to do so here. State v. Strauss, 119 Wash. 2d 401, 417, 832 P.2d 78 (1992).

First, "Punkin" was not, as Williams contends, unidentified. While her identity had not been positively established at the time the issue was first raised during the pretrial hearings, the testimony at trial identifying her as Evelyn Kelly was uncontroverted. Williams's own attorney, moreover, conceded that Kelly and "Punkin" were the same person.

Second, Kelly was clearly under the stress of a traumatic event when she made the statement. Three conditions must be met for the excited utterance exception to apply: (1) a startling event or condition; (2) a statement made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by that event or condition; and (3) a statement relating to the startling event or condition. State v. Chapin, 118 Wash. 2d 681, 686, 826 P.2d 194 (1992). The key question is whether the declarant was still under the stress of the startling event such that the statement could not be the result of fabrication, intervening actions, choice or judgment. Strauss, 119 Wash. 2d at 416; Chapin, 118 Wash. 2d at 687-88. Here, the officers contacted the witness when they arrived at the scene minutes after the shooting as Jamie lay dying in the street. When they arrived, Kelly approached them in great distress asking over and over what they were going to do to help Jamie. Even after Officer Gerloff assured Kelly that an ambulance was on its way, she remained agitated, repeatedly asking the officers why help had not yet come. Officers testified that she was yelling, cursing, crying, "jittering with her hands," "very, very upset," "very agitated," and "talking fast." Even though as many as 10-12 minutes may have passed after Jamie was shot before Kelly gave police a description of the people she had seen, the ambulance had not yet arrived and Kelly was clearly agitated and under the stress of the event still unfolding before her eyes. While Kelly hesitated to give her real name and apartment number, she did not waver in her description of the shooter as wearing a plaid shirt and a black cap. Williams was wearing a plaid shirt and a black cap when police spotted him just three blocks away in the direction Kelly said they had gone with a group that otherwise resembled the group that had left the scene just a few minutes earlier. Kelly's statement was clearly an excited utterance and properly admitted under that exception to the hearsay rule.

III. Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

Jimerson first contends that the juvenile court abused its discretion when it declined jurisdiction over his case. Jimerson was 13 years old at the time he was charged with the first degree murder of Jamie Wilson. See State v. Oreiro, 73 Wash. App. 868, 872, 871 P.2d 666 (1994) (jurisdiction over an offense committed by a juvenile is determined at the time proceedings are initiated against the alleged offender). RCW 13.40.110(2) permits a juvenile court to decline jurisdiction if it determines that declination would be in the best interest of the juvenile or the public. In making that determination, a juvenile court should consider: (1) the seriousness of the alleged offense and whether the protection of the community requires declination; (2) whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner; (3) whether it was against persons or against property; (4) the prosecutive merit of the complaint; (5) where the defendant's alleged accomplices are adults, the desirability of trial and Disposition of the entire case in one court; (6) the juvenile's sophistication and maturity; (7) the juvenile's criminal history; and (8) the prospects for adequate protection of the public and rehabilitation of the juvenile through services available in the juvenile system. State v. Furman, 122 Wash. 2d 440, 447, 858 P.2d 1092 (1993) (citing Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541, 566-67, 86 S. Ct. 1045, 16 L. Ed. 2d 84 (1966)). All eight of these factors need not be proven; their purpose is only to focus and guide the juvenile court's discretion. Furman, 122 Wash. 2d at 447. The court's decision will be reversed only for abuse of discretion. Furman, 122 Wash. 2d at 447.

Here, the juvenile court reluctantly concluded that, even though Jimerson was only 13 years old, declination was necessary to protect the community and the public. After carefully weighing all eight factors on the record, the court found that only one, Jimerson's immaturity and apparent vulnerability to peer pressure, weighed in favor of retaining jurisdiction. Each of the others, in its view, weighed in favor of declination. Jimerson concedes that the court properly evaluated two of those factors; i.e., the offense was against a person and the complaint had prosecutive merit. He argues, however, that the juvenile court erred in concluding that any of the other factors weighed in favor of declination. Two weighed neither for nor against declination, i.e., the seriousness of the alleged offense and whether the protection of the community required declination, and whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner. The other three, he argues, weighed against declination, i.e., his criminal history, the desirability of trial and Disposition of the entire case in one court given that his alleged accomplice was an adult, and the prospect for adequate protection of the public and rehabilitation through services available in the juvenile system.

The juvenile court properly found that the first two of these factors weighed in favor of declination. As Jimerson himself concedes, first degree murder is a serious offense. See RCW 13.40.0354 (offenses are assigned varying levels of seriousness); RCW 13.40.0357 (first degree murder has a seriousness level of A+, i.e., the highest level). It was also committed in a willful, aggressive, violent and premeditated manner. Jimerson's argument that it was not "particularly hideous" ignores that he shot Jamie while she was lying in the street being beaten and kicked by other teenagers. The court also did not err in treating this factor as one that weighs in favor of declination.

The other three factors that Jimerson disputes, i.e., the desirability of trial and disposing of the entire case in one court, his criminal history, and the prospect for adequate protection of the public and rehabilitation through services available in the juvenile system, also weigh in favor of declination. It was not entirely clear at the time of the decline hearing that it would in fact be possible to try the two defendants together because Williams's speedy trial date was fast approaching. But there is no question that, given the burden both on the witnesses and the judicial system of trying them separately when they were both charged with the same crime, it was desirable to try both in the same court and proceeding. The juvenile court properly found that this factor weighed in favor of declination.

Jimerson's criminal history also weighed in favor of declination. Jimerson does not dispute the juvenile court's finding that, at age 13, he had three prior Dispositions, two for fourth degree assault and one for first degree theft. Nor does he dispute that he had been referred to the juvenile court for five further felony offenses over the course of the previous 10 months. Jimerson's father had also told Frank Trujillo, Jimerson's probation counselor, that he was unable to control his son and was afraid he was headed for trouble. Given this evidence, the juvenile court was justifiably concerned that Jimerson's criminal behavior was escalating.

The court correctly noted that Jimerson's contact with the juvenile system appeared to have had little effect in deterring him from committing further offenses. This reason, taken together with Jimerson's escalating criminal behavior, support the trial court's Conclusion that the adult system would be better able to assure that the public would be protected. The court also properly considered the need to provide Jimerson such rehabilitative services as might be available. It noted that, because Jimerson would likely be detained by the Department of Juvenile Rehabilitation for a period of seven or eight years after any conviction, he would get counseling and educational and vocational skills training through that department during that time.

The juvenile court did find that Jimerson was immature and appeared to be vulnerable to peer pressure, a factor it treated as weighing against declination. When this one factor is weighed against the other factors each of which weigh in favor of declination, however, there is no reasonable basis for concluding that the juvenile court abused its discretion in concluding that, overall, the factors weighed in favor of declining jurisdiction.

IV. Sufficiency of the Evidence

Finally, Jimerson contends that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation and/or accomplice liability to support his conviction for first degree murder. A conviction is supported by substantial evidence if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, any rational trier of fact could find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Gentry, 125 Wash. 2d 570, 596-97, 888 P.2d 1105, cert. denied, 133 L. Ed. 2d 79, 116 S. Ct. 131 (1995). A claim of insufficiency in a criminal case admits the truth of the State's evidence and requires that all reasonable inferences be drawn in its favor. Gentry, 125 Wash. 2d at 597. A trier of fact may rely on circumstantial evidence alone even if it is also consistent with innocence. State v. Kovac, 50 Wash. App. 117, 119, 747 P.2d 484 (1987).

A person is guilty of first degree murder when he causes the death of another person with a premeditated intent to cause the death of that person. RCW 9A.32.030(1)(a). The premeditation required to support a conviction of first degree murder must involve more than a moment in point of time. RCW 9A.32.020(1). Premeditation is "'the deliberate formation of and reflection upon the intent to take a human life' and involves 'the mental process of thinking beforehand, deliberation, reflection, weighing or reasoning for a period of time, however short.'" State v. Pirtle, 127 Wash. 2d 628, 644, 904 P.2d 245 (1995), cert. denied, 135 L. Ed. 2d 1084, 116 S. Ct. 2568 (1996) (quoting Gentry, 125 Wash. 2d at 597-98). The State may prove premeditation by circumstantial evidence where the inferences drawn by the jury are reasonable and the evidence supporting the jury's finding is substantial. Pirtle, 127 Wash. 2d at 643; Gentry, 125 Wash. 2d at 598 (a wide range of facts will support premeditation). Jimerson argues, in essence, that there is insufficient evidence of premeditation because (1) he did not fire the fatal shot, and (2) even if he did, it was an impulsive, spontaneous act.

First, the evidence supports a very strong inference that it was Jimerson who fired the fatal shot. Dr. Reay, the medical examiner, testified that the cause of death was the shot to the chest which perforated Jamie's lung, heart, liver and stomach. That shot was one of two that entered from the back. He further testified that a wound of that nature would have caused the victim to experience difficulty in breathing and go into irreversible shock about 5 to 15 minutes after the injury was inflicted. Witnesses testified both that Jimerson was standing behind Jamie when he shot her two times and that she was having difficulty breathing even before Williams fired the third shot. This suggests that her lung had already been perforated before Williams's shot. The fact that Jamie did not slump over until after Williams shot her does not detract from this likelihood since Williams shot Jamie within seconds or minutes after Jimerson did. Although Dr. Reay could not determine the order in which the wounds were inflicted, the location and number of Jamie's wounds was consistent with the testimony of other witnesses that Jimerson shot Jamie twice from the back and Williams shot Jamie once from the front. The same witnesses testified that April Winfrey had the gun in her possession as they were walking toward the mini-market. That testimony permitted the jury to infer that Jimerson needed to get the gun from April prior to shooting Jamie. See Gentry, 125 Wash. 2d at 598 (evidence that the defendant took steps to obtain a weapon may support a finding of premeditation). After he got the gun, Jimerson shot Jamie not just once but twice from the back as she was sitting crouched on the curb. See State v. Rehak, 67 Wash. App. 157, 164, 834 P.2d 651 (1992) (evidence that defendant prepared the gun, approached the victim while he was sitting quietly in his chair and was not in a confrontational stance, and shot him three separate times was sufficient evidence of premeditation), review denied, 120 Wash. 2d 1022, 844 P.2d 1018, cert. denied, 508 U.S. 953, 124 L. Ed. 2d 665, 113 S. Ct. 2449 (1993). This evidence was sufficient to permit a rational trier of fact to conclude that Jimerson inflicted the fatal wound and that he acted with deliberation and premeditation in doing so.

But even if Williams fired the fatal shot, Jimerson's conviction was supported by substantial evidence. RCW 9A.08.020(3) provides:

A person is an accomplice of another person in the commission of the crime if:

(a) With knowledge that it will promote or facilitate the commission of a crime, he (i) solicits, commands, encourages, or requests such other person to commit it; or (ii) aids or agrees to aid such other person in planning or committing it[.] Because accomplice liability is not an alternative means of committing a crime, a jury need not be unanimous about whether a defendant acted as a principal or accomplice in committing a crime. State v. Hoffman, 116 Wash. 2d 51, 105, 804 P.2d 577 (1991) ("'it matters not that some jurors may have believed that the petitioner fired the gun, while others may have believed that his only role was in aiding and abetting [the other participant], so long as all twelve agreed that he did participate'") (quoting State v. Carothers, 84 Wash. 2d 256, 265, 525 P.2d 731 (1974)); State v. Munden, 81 Wash. App. 192, 197, 913 P.2d 421 (1996). A defendant need not participate in each element of the crime nor need he share the same mental state that is required of the principal. State v. Galisia, 63 Wash. App. 833, 840, 822 P.2d 303, review denied, 119 Wash. 2d 1003, 832 P.2d 487 (1992).

Here, the evidence reflects that Jimerson handed the gun to Williams immediately after shooting Jamie himself. He contends that there was no way he could have known that Williams would use the gun to shoot Jamie. But his handing the gun to Williams was sufficient to permit a rational juror to conclude, especially in light of Williams's earlier shots at April's feet in the park, that Jimerson acted with the knowledge that it would encourage Williams to shoot at Jamie. Regardless whether the jury believed Jimerson or Williams fired the fatal shot, Jimerson's conviction for first degree murder was supported by sufficient evidence.



C. Kenneth Grosse

Ann L. Ellington


Willard Jimerson Jr.


The victim

Jamie Lynn Wilson, 14.



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