(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.)