Update: Hokum Jeebs’ killer Angelo Felice sentenced to 14 1/2 years

(Added 5:23 pm – WSB video of the entire hearing, unedited)
2:20 PM: We’re in King County Superior Court, where Judge John Erlick will sentence Angelo Felice for the February 2011 murder of vaudeville entertainer Hokum W. Jeebs at his home in Fauntleroy. On June 13th, we brought you first word of a plea bargain for Felice, who admitted to stabbing Jeebs to death. According to court documents from last month, prosecutors will recommend 11 1/2 years for Felice, who had moved from the East Coast a short time before the murder. Family and friends are filling rows in the courtroom, and some of them will speak to the judge.

2:23 PM: The hearing has begun. The prosecutor is recapping the plea bargain, which brought the charge down to second-degree murder, but says the state had no doubt Felice killed Mr. Jeebs. She mentions letters written to the court, and that the detectives who investigated the case are here. At least three people will speak, she says, starting with Mr. Jeebs’ longtime partner Anita. “It was hard for me to decide what to say today,” she begins, “describing Hokum and our life together, and what his loss has meant to me.” She is speaking to her partner’s killer, as well as to her friends. She describes “what a wonderful and unique person Hokum was … funny, unique, incredibly talented… we had a wonderful life together .. We are all going to lose our loved ones someday … (but) murder is particularly difficult, because someone made an intentional decision” to kill the victim. She is speaking calmly, and says it was hard to know her beloved “in his last moments was terrified.” She mentions the role of a WSB commenter as well as police in finding Felice. “No amount of prison time can bring back what we lost,” she says, so she has chosen “to embrace caring” and asks people to embrace life and light, and set an example for young people. Some in the gallery are crying. She quotes, “… may we care for one another, may we realize how precious we are, and I hope that you realize that someday, Angelo.”

2:28 PM: Speaking next, Tony, a friend of the victim. “I very very dearly miss my friend,” he begins. He mentions what court documents had said about Felice wanting to rob people, and Mr. Jeebs “not being a cooperative victim. … He went to the house to commit robbery, and ended up viciously murdering my friend.” He too thanks WSB (the commenters with sightings) as well as police, and says he is “sickened” to realize that Felice might be out in less than 11 years. “Sadly, I am convinced the world has more of this to look forward to when he is released … I hope not, I really do.” He asks the judge to consider sentencing Felice to the longest term possible (which would be 220 months, about 18 years). “Rest in peace, Hokum,” he concludes.

2:33 PM: Another friend, Michael, is next. He says he worked with Mr. Jeebs and was known as “Chumley.” He begins by reading a letter from another vaudeville colleague who had worked with Mr. Jeebs in the Bay Area in the late ’70s. Then, Michael himself says, “It was so unnecessary … you took a dear friend, an uncle to my kids .. my only wish is that you develop a conscience and are tormented by it until it motivates you to do something.” He becomes emotional, as do more in the gallery. After him, the defense lawyer says they feel the recommendation is fair. The judge offers Felice a chance to speak. He does: “My actions took away some one you love and there’s no amount of .. apologies that can … bring him back,” Felice says. “Every day I’ve had to wake up knowing what I did … there is nothing I can do to bring anyone back, no amount of apologies that I can say … when I get out I (will) try to help someone else from making the mistake I did. I’m sorry,” he says, turning to the gallery, “there’s nothing I can do.”

2:39 PM: “This is a tragedy all around,” says the judge, for a “young man” headed to prison, with an upbringing as “the proverbial lost soul,” and for the victim and his loved one. He says, “Nobody really knows what happened that night, except for one person here …The victim is not here himself to defend himself or his actions … there is no action that can justify having his life cut short like this.” Judge Erlick explains that he usually gives deference to what the two sides have worked out, but says he’s able to be independent … adding, “there is nothing I can do today to bring back Hokum, but to try to give justice for this senseless crime.” He adds time: 175 months, almost 3 years longer than the prosecution had recommended. The hearing is in essence over, as paperwork and formalities are handled. Three years of probation (community custody) will await Felice after he leaves prison. (We recorded the entire 20-minute hearing on video and will upload it as soon as possible, to add to the story.)

10 Replies to "Update: Hokum Jeebs' killer Angelo Felice sentenced to 14 1/2 years"

  • Nitro July 20, 2012 (5:26 pm)

    R.I.P. Hokum.

  • LAP July 20, 2012 (6:39 pm)

    Anita is a calm, lovely and down-to-earth woman. My heart is heavy for her as she walks through this nightmare.

  • M. July 20, 2012 (7:34 pm)

    14 1/2 years inprison for willfully taking the life of another. Doesn’t seem near enough.

  • old timer July 20, 2012 (8:30 pm)

    I do not understand how someone can kill another person and get a ‘sentence’ of less than 15 years.
    What is the reasoning behind these ‘plea bargain’ deals?

    Who exactly is this ‘prosecutor’ who recommended an even shorter sentence?
    How does taking a life become a Costco special?

    • WSB July 20, 2012 (8:43 pm)

      The King County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Satterberg, is ultimately accountable for everything with which his office deals.

      However, sentencing ranges are set by the legislature. If you think the ranges are too low, that’s who you take it to. Your legislators are House Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen. Sharon Nelson.

      Felice had a score of “zero” on a scale that is used for measuring a defendant’s past, among other things. Not sure exactly how that plays into it but it was a factor.

      No consolation, I know, but the fact the judge added three years to the recommendation that emerged from the plea bargain was rather striking. I have covered more than a few of these in the past five years and that almost never happens.


  • JoAnne July 20, 2012 (8:58 pm)

    Horrible injustice. He could be out on parole in a few years and on to his next victim.

  • dsa July 21, 2012 (9:34 am)

    It impressed me Judge Erlick added time.

  • waterworld July 21, 2012 (12:51 pm)

    When a defendant is sentenced in Washington, the court determines a “standard range” for the sentence based on two numbers: the defendant’s “criminal history” score and the “seriousness level” of the crime. Those two values are plotted on a grid that shows the standard sentence range. For second degree murder, the seriousness level is 14. For a defendant with a criminal history score of zero and an offense seriousness level of 14, the standard range is 123 to 220 months (about 10 to 18 years). Within that range, there are many things that could affect the ultimate sentence. A judge must have very compelling reasons to go outside that range; in this case, that would mean reasons that set this second-degree murder apart from others.

    The score of “0” for criminal history means that the defendant has no “criminal history” for purposes of sentencing. That’s not exactly the same as having no prior convictions at all, however. Certain crimes, including many misdemeanors, never count towards the criminal history score. Also some felony convictions are not counted if a specific period of time has passed (ten years for some, five for others) without the person committing any new crimes. (That’s called “washing out.”) Juvenile felonies are counted, unless they have “washed out” under similar rules. Class A felonies and sex crimes, in general, don’t ever wash out.

    I don’t know what Felice’s criminal record is. It could be totally clean prior to this offense, or there could have been some things that don’t count toward his criminal history score.

    The sentence that Judge Erlick gave, 175 months, is actually very close to the mid-point of the range. Some judges seem to start from that point and either go up or down, depending on their assessment of the defendant and the crime. Others start at the bottom and work up. (This is my observation of the system, not a documented fact.) I think one way to interpret the sentence here is that is that the judge decided, despite the recommendation of the prosecutor and the defense lawyer, that Felice did not deserve the benefit of anything better than the middle of the range.

  • Ace20604 July 22, 2012 (8:53 am)

    Waterworld put it very well. There are many aggravating/ mitigating factors that can change the sentencing ranges.
    The sentencing reforms of the 1970’s are not perfect but do give some standards. Arguments that standardize sentencing violates the 6th amendments right to trial by jury have been made before, by both defendants and victims.

  • J.Stabile July 24, 2012 (7:48 am)

    Thanks for posting the video. It meant a lot for me to see and hear the proceedings. Anita, Anton and Chumleigh were courageous and eloquent. The judge showed compassion for our loss.

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