By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
More than half a year after the State Court of Appeals heard arguments in the appeal of Lovett “Cid” Chambers‘ manslaughter conviction for a deadly shooting outside a West Seattle bar, its ruling is in: The court says the verdict stands.
Chambers (right), now 72, was charged with murder after shooting and killing 36-year-old “Travis” Hood (left) on January 12, 2012, in a confrontation with Hood and another man after all three had been at the now-closed Feedback Lounge in Morgan Junction. Chambers said it was a matter of self-defense, alleging that Hood had been about to swing a shovel at him alongside the park north of the bar, and that he and his friend had hurled racial slurs at Chambers.
In April 2014, after a six-week trial that we covered start to finish, a King County Superior Court jury found Chambers guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter. He was subsequently sentenced to 11 1/2 years, with credit for the two-plus years he had served by then.
The appeals-court document summarizes the decision as follows:
Chambers contends the evidence does not support the decision to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree and the court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence seized from his home and statements he made after his arrest. Chambers also claims he is entitled to reversal because he was denied his right to counsel during the videotaped deposition of a witness and prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument denied him of the right to a fair trial.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence supports the decision to give the lesser included manslaughter instruction. We conclude the court erred in denying the motion to suppress evidence seized from the house. The warrantless entry and protective sweep … was not justified under Maryland v. Buie … but the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the unchallenged findings support the conclusion that the police “scrupulously honored” the right to remain silent under Michigan v. Moslev. … and the record shows Chambers was not deprived of his right to counsel or a fair trial, we affirm [the verdict].
The “prosecutorial misconduct” allegation was perhaps the most contentious of the appeal. Chambers’ lawyer argued that Hood and his friend were racists “trying to commit a hate crime” against Chambers; the prosecutor argued that the defense was trying to “pander” to the jury’s “prejudices” by making the case “about race,” and the defense took issue with that. The appeals court said “the challenged remarks were a fair response to the defense closing argument and did not impugn the integrity of defense counsel.”
Here’s the full decision; it is dated this past Monday, and we just happened onto it while making a periodic check of the files this afternoon. Next we’ll be seeking to find out if Chambers plans to challenge the ruling.