Video & as-it-happened coverage: Lovett Chambers sentenced to 11 1/2 years for 2012 shooting death of Travis Hood

(TOPLINE: Lovett “Cid” Chambers has been sentenced to 11 1/2 years for the shooting death of Travis Hood; as-it-happened coverage below)

2 PM: We are at the King County Courthouse, where the criminal-court judges preside over sentencings on Friday afternoons. This afternoon in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Theresa B. Doyle, the sentencing hearing is beginning for Lovett “Cid” Chambers, the 69-year-old Gatewood man (new photo from today at right) found guilty of manslaughter for the January 2012 shooting of 36-year-old Travis Hood (left) outside Morgan Junction Park. We covered every day of the six weeks of testimony in his trial (coverage links here), concluding April 8th with the jury’s verdict. According to a court document filed this week, prosecutors recommend a 13 1/2-year sentence (162 months) including the five mandatory years for use of a gun, with credit for time served (almost 2 1/2 years so far, since the night of the shooting). More than 25 people are in court for the hearing; we will add updates as the proceedings unfold. Two are holding up signs that say “No Jail for Self-Defense.”

(At tables, from left: prosecutors Margaret Nave & Mari Isaacson, SPD Det. Tim DeVore, defense lawyers Lauren McLane & Ben Goldsmith flanking Lovett Chambers)
Chambers is in jail orange – during the trial, he wore street clothes. Defense lawyer Ben Goldsmith begins by asking Judge Doyle to allow Chambers to be unshackled, and she grants the request. A brief moment of tension ensues – the deputies say they can’t do that without consulting a supervisor; they make a call, and say they are cleared.

2:46 PM: We are starting the sentencing coverage itself here – our chronicling of the previous 45 minutes of argument over whether to grant a new trial (a motion just denied by the judge) is now below the jump. The judge notes that she has received many, many letters in support of Chambers – she says she doesn’t believe she’s ever received so many letters in any case.

Prosecutor “Maggie” Nave speaks first, noting that Chambers spent most of 1966 through 1989 in prison for several major crimes, but they don’t count here for various reasons, so his “offender score is 0,” meaning a relatively light sentence, aside from the mandatory 5 years for use of a firearm.

As noted above, she says the state is asking for “high end of standard sentence,” 102 months for the manslaughter conviction, as “the defendant recklessly fired a .45-caliber handgun at the victim … repeatedly … three shots … It’s very likely the first shot was not a fatal shot … if the defendant had stopped at one shot, it’s likely Michael “Travis” Hood would be here today. … The defendant’s actions in this case were extremely reckless” even, she says, if you believe the defendant’s self-defense contention.

“The first thing is that he retrieved his handgun from (his car) … a handgun that he, a convicted felon, was not allowed to possess … (The second thing) is that he followed (the victim and his friend) up the street … when he had so many other options,” such as running into one of the two nearby bars, made a call for help, run down the street in the opposite direction. “He didn’t do any of those things.” And third, “he shot Travis repeatedly – if he had just stopped shooting, things would have been different. And (finally), he did this while (extremely drunk).” (Almost three times the legal limit, it was noted early in the trial.)

She says the facts of a case cited by the defense as grounds for a light sentence are not comparable to this one. She also says the defense is wrong to contend that a standard sentence would be “overly harsh” because of Chambers’ age and because he has been a law-abiding member of the community since the late ’80s. She acknowledges the circumstances the night of the shooting were “complicated.” Regarding the defendant having “precious few years when he gets out” even if only sentenced to 5 years, she says she wants to say on the record that Travis Hood “has no good years left,” and might have had 40 years left if he had not been shot dead. “He has a friend, a mother, a child … his mother and friends had to sit here in court day after die and endure the defense (portraying him as) a racist, violent person.”

3:04 PM: Brenda Hood, Travis’s mother, reads a letter from his daughter, Destiny Williams, 12 when he was killed. It speaks of crying, of counseling, of depression: “I miss my dad with all my heart. I dream about him a lot. I wake up crying. My world was taken away, and it doesn’t seem like anyone cares.” The letter speaks of never seeing her dad again, of not being able to have him walk her down the aisle someday. Brenda Hood now says that she bought her own plane ticket to Seattle twice and also paid tens of thousands for medical and funeral costs for her son. “While Travis won’t be back in this world, I would like to see justice for him. … I’d like to say the defendant showed no remorse throughout the whole trial … didn’t even show any sadness that the shooting had taken place.” She says she won’t forgive him – “only God can forgive him” – that she hopes he dies in jail and “rot(s) in hell.”

Next, Jodie Davis, a friend of Travis Hood’s, who along with the victim’s mother was in court daily throughout the trial.

She shows a photo of him as he prepared to leave Jacksonville for Seattle, and points out he was “the only white person in the photo.” Through tears, she said she thought that Seattle would be a great place for him, and she says she still has no idea what happened that night, and expresses her sadness that she will never see him again. At 3:11 pm, the judge calls for the afternoon recess. The hearing should reconvene by 3:30 pm.

3:29 PM, HEARING RESUMES: “The state wants Mr. Chambers to die in prison for defending himself,” opens defense lawyer Goldsmith. He gets to the point of the N word – and the variant on it that Hood’s friend Davis had used before the break, saying that it was just the way – as Hood’s friend Jamie Vause had testified during the trial – they referred to each other. Goldsmith contends that in any variant, if used by a white person, it is a slur against an African-American person, and a declaration that their life has no value. So, he says, when those words were used by Hood and Vause that night, “why wouldn’t Mr. Chambers panic? … Lord help any of us faced with a threat to their life and doesn’t behave the way (prosecutors) think they should.” He says the law allows an exceptional (low) sentence in this case. “Mr. Chambers is a kind, gentle, peaceful person, drunk or sober,” he says testimony showed. He speaks of Mr. Chambers’ wife Sara Chambers (who is here today) saying he “gets silly” when intoxicated. Even a prosecution witness, he says, described Chambers as “relaxed” that night. “He had love, friends, family, home, work, anything anybody could ever want. He had a gun that he wasn’t allowed to have. But in the two decades that he had it, he never pulled that gun in anger … Mr. Chambers told the court what happened, exactly what he was thinking, feeling, and he was consistent throughout.”

Goldsmith said even the prosecution witnesses did not describe Chambers’ actions as “following” them. He says even prosecution witness Vause’s description supports that Chambers was acting in self-defense – jumping back, shots close in time, “presence of a deadly weapon (shovel) in Mr. Hood’s hands … There’s no question that Mr. Chambers was in a fight for his life that night.”

Judge Doyle asks, “… when the jury rejected the self-defense theory,” how could the judge take that into account in sentencing?

Goldsmith says the court is entitled to make its sentencing decision separate from what was proven to the jury, and says that much of the testimony corroborated that Chambers could have and did perceive that he was in danger. But, he said, “I’m not asking the court to give him a significant sentence downward based on … that he is a good and peaceful person …” and again mentions that the court received letters of support from people who have known Chambers for “not only years, but decades.” He mentions a letter from someone whom Mr. Chambers helped deal with a threat, and said that he offered to that person that he would “help (her) work with police and courts.”

Regarding prosecutor’s Nave suggestion that he should have run away or could have taken some other action, Goldsmith mentions it happened within seconds, another sign it wasn’t reckless. Regarding his drunkenness, “it was tantamount to him being drunk in his own living room” because it was someplace he had been going for years. Finally “if nothing else, this case has demonstrated to me the living value of my talking because frankly I can’t imagine a world in which Mr. Chambers should have been convicted, and when I talk to people about this case, they are constantly shocked that he was convicted. .. There is not much I can do for Mr. Chambers but the law allows this court to do what is right.”

Chambers’ wife Sara now is coming up to speak.

“I’ve been married to him for more than 22 years. He’s always been a kind and gentle husband … has many friends .. I’ve seen him sober, I’ve seen him drunk, I’ve seen him happy and sad, and consistently he is an even-tempered man who thinks of other people as much as he thinks of himself …” He would only do something like this if he feels his life is threatened, she concludes.

Chambers himself declines the chance to speak.

Judge Doyle (left): “I don’t think this is an appropriate case for a sentence below the standard range.”

She says that his 20 years of law-abiding community life is not a criteria for that. She acknowledges the difficulty of the case and testimony – “imperfect self-defense.” She recaps the different versions of that January night’s events, told by Jamie Vause and by Lovett Chambers.

“It’s clear the jury didn’t believe the self-defense theory and … found him guilty of manslaughter, apparently finding that he recklessly caused the death of Mr. Hood. What wasn’t disputed was that Mr. Chambers had a .20 blood alcohol content many hours after (the shooting) … it may be that he doesn’t remember much of what happened.” She continues recapping what testimony said led up to “Mr. Hood picking up the shovel, Mr. Chambers shooting him three times. There really was no sensible explanation about why (he) would follow Mr. Hood and Mr. Vause up to the truck. That was the big gap. Why did he do that?” So, she said, she did not find a reason to impose a sentence below the 78 to 102-month standard range. “I do however find this an appropriate case for the bottom of the standard range and for all those same reasons – there was a very sharp division in what happened.”


3:54 PM: So, she summarizes, based on everything she’s heard, “the court thinks it’s appropriate to impose the bottom of the standard range – that’s 78 months.” And she notes there is no discretion in the additional 60-month firearm enhancement. 138 months total, with credit for time served (he has been in jail since shortly after the shooting 2 1/2 years ago).

Judge Doyle also orders the standard no-contact orders for witnesses and 36 months of community custody (probation); there also will be a restitution hearing at some point. Goldsmith asks for an “appeal bond” of $50,000. Judge Doyle says she would rather make that decision at another date, given that it’s already 4 pm. Nave says another hearing on a motion is pending and so they don’t want Chambers sent to state prison until that hearing, and the “appeal bond” hearing, can be held. The hearing is set for 8:30 am next Wednesday (June 18th).

We recorded video of the hearing and will upload upon return to HQ, adding here later tonight, along with more photos from the hearing.

(Added late Friday/early Saturday – the sentencing video in 2 parts, before and after the 3:11 pm break)


FROM 2:05-2:45 PM: First there is discussion regarding Goldsmith’s motion for a new trial, as previously reported here. “This is not an everyday case,” he says. “…There is no doubt that race is at the core of this case. … These are all arguments that were heard by a jury of 11 white people and 1 person from Bangla Desh who is an executive at Microsoft.” He notes that racism was brought up by both sides – defense and prosecution. “Mr. Chambers wasn’t afforded the opportunity to have his case judged (through diverse perspectives).” He brings up a study showing that racial makeup of the pool of potential jurors can have an effect on trials’ outcomes, and notes that “King County has had a problem with” (racial makeup of jury pools).

“How can the court (grant a new trial) without some evidence connecting (the racial makeup of the jury) to the (trial evidence)?” asks Judge Doyle. She cites a specific court rule. Goldsmith says that justice was not done because the jury pool “was not reflective of the demographics of King County. … What this court has before us is that a case where, it’s evidence to anybody paying attention, that race matters …” He also alleges prosecutorial misconduct in closing arguments, bringing up a point he challenged toward trial’s end, that they suggested that Chambers reacted out of anger at being called a racist name, though evidence had shown that “he always responds (to such insults) by turning the other cheek.” He contends it was misconduct because of “burden-shifting” and also that prosecutors were wrong to infer that the victim was acting in self-defense – the contention that the defense made about their client. “The only evidence … is that a 67-year-old man walked past (Hood) at some point.” But, Judge Doyle countered, it was proven that, at the time Hood picked up a shovel and brandished it, Chambers was a few feet away with a loaded gun. After Goldsmith’s response, she noted it was up to the jury to decide from the evidence who had threatened who first. His final contention is that the jury was improperly instructed regarding how they could lawfully reach a verdict of manslaughter (at the time the trial started, he was charged of second-degree murder). “It should have been a hung jury,” he contended.

2:30 PM: Judge Doyle says that the racial makeup of the juror pool is NOT grounds for a new trial. She said the defense was given “wide latitude” for questioning during voir dire – interviewing of jurors – especially because it was clear that the jury pool was non-diverse. She also says that because it was clear “that race was a big issue” in the case, she allowed some evidence against which the state had argued strenuously. “In context of the evidence in this case, the court did everything it could to provide your client with a fair trial … granting almost every motion that the defense made.”

Now the lead prosecuting attorney Margaret “Maggie” Nave is responding. “There were no errors made in closing arguments.” Regarding her suggestion that Chambers might have been angry when called the “N” word, she said it was a reasonable inference because of how offensive that word is to African-Americans, but she said she never suggested that it would be a trigger for violence. Their witnesses, in fact, said they never used a racial epithet – it was defense witnesses who made the claim. However, she goes on to contend, just because a person has reacted one way to something in the past, doesn’t rule out a different reaction. “Everything I argued was tied to the evidence. .. This case, yes, absolutely it had to do with race. … but just because it had to do with race does not mean the state argued that just because the defendant is African-American, that he behaved a particular way that night.” She says “the critical issue in this case … (was) what Travis was doing when he picked up the shovel.” She said he was quoted as saying “defensive words” – “Back off” – and that was something she noted, not saying he acted in self-defense. Finally, she denies the jury was not instructed properly.

Judge Doyle then announces she will deny the request for a new trial, on all argued grounds, saying she finds the verdict was in accord with the law, and noting that since the jury was out “a considerable amount of time” – three full days – they clearly considered all the evidence. She also does not believe that “as unfortunate as (the jury pool makeup was),” the law does not allow the granting of a new trial on those grounds.

(Sentencing ensues – see above, picking up at 2:46 PM)

44 Replies to "Video & as-it-happened coverage: Lovett Chambers sentenced to 11 1/2 years for 2012 shooting death of Travis Hood"

  • 33Pete June 13, 2014 (4:22 pm)

    This seems like a reasonable (if not light)sentence for the crime committed, particularly in light of the evidence showing that any notion this act was done in self defense is ridiculous.

    In the end, we are left with a clear cut case of callous disregard for the lives of others by man who has already spent nearly 20 years in prison for other crimes.

  • Jodie davis June 13, 2014 (5:56 pm)

    I love u trav .. RIP

  • BT June 13, 2014 (5:57 pm)

    Once again a King County judge deals the low end of the range while the victims family will go the rest of their lives without seeing their loved one. Very disappointing. My heart goes out to the family of Travis Hood for their loss. The crappy KC “justice” system treats criminals better than the victims and I will be sure that Judge Doyle never gets a vote from me.

  • West Seattle Hipster June 13, 2014 (5:58 pm)

    That is just great news, very nice to hear.


    Thank you WSB for your extensive coverage of this long process beginning with the killing of Travis Hood. This is journalism at it’s finest.

  • justadumbguy June 13, 2014 (6:05 pm)

    thank you WSB for your outstanding coverage of this terrible, terrible tragedy that affected so many people.

  • Lfauntleroy June 13, 2014 (7:01 pm)

    I know prob covered this but how can you kill somebody and only get 11.5 yrs?

  • ScubaFrog June 13, 2014 (7:21 pm)

    Pretty light sentence for murder. It’s unfortunate that Chambers’ previous convictions for bank robbery, rape, assault etc. couldn’t be taken into account.

  • EB June 13, 2014 (8:50 pm)

    I’m shocked at the light sentence. You can’t just kill somebody because of something they said. And if you do, you should pay for your mistake.

  • WTF June 13, 2014 (9:29 pm)

    Take solice in knowing he will be 81 years old (if he lives that long) when he gets out. He won’t have any friends or family waiting for him. No one will care. He will have no money and no where to go. He will wish he got life in prison, because the prison that waits him after his sentence will much, much worse.

    • WSB June 13, 2014 (9:56 pm)

      @WTF – I don’t have an exact calculation but subtracting the 2 1/2 years he has served so far, and then something for “good behavior” – I do not believe that can be deducted from the 5-year firearm-use sentence, which is characterized as “hard time,” but could be taken off the 78 months for manslaughter – I suspect the actual time served will be closer to 7 or 8 more years. (We have been lucky to have expert commenters in this area in the past, so if any of you are reading, please correct me if that’s entirely off base.) He would still be at least 77, as his 70th birthday is this October. – TR

  • Jason June 13, 2014 (9:41 pm)

    Good to know you can already have a record and still get 2 years less for murdering someone than you would for a first conviction of stealing cell phones on a bus. I feel terrible for the victim’s family, ugh what a slap in the face.

  • Azimuth June 13, 2014 (9:46 pm)

    …and the Times said the guy who stole copper wire from the light rail tracks got 12 1/2 years. Something isn’t right here.

  • Jodie davis June 13, 2014 (10:00 pm)

    Thanks everyone ya basically a slap on the wrist once again for cookie…. we sincerely appreciate all our supports u would have all loves trav just as much as all of us.. and unlike chambers he had NO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND

  • phil dirt June 14, 2014 (6:58 am)

    What a travesty of justice. There is really something wrong when a convicted felon with a history like Chambers gets off with a slap on the wrist. Chambers should spend the rest of his life in Walla Walla with no possibility of parole. Chambers, instead of just going home, went to his car and got his .45 and then confronted Mr.Hood. There is no way Chambers should have been charged with anything less than MURDER! Of course, these days, if you are a certain complexion and if you claim somebody calls you a certain word it is grounds for a reduced sentence. Our justice system is sick.

  • phil dirt June 14, 2014 (8:51 am)

    Judge Doyle will not get my vote. This sentence is a travesty. Chambers killed a man for supposedly being called the N-WORD. He could have just gone home, instead he got his .45 and went looking for trouble.

  • Jeff June 14, 2014 (10:42 am)

    I don’t really know what to think of this. All along it looked like they both were looking for trouble that night, and they both found it with very different consequences.

  • Jason June 14, 2014 (11:09 am)

    Nobody deserves to be killed for saying any word. This guy is a career criminal and it’s absurd that he is getting less time for taking a life, the life of someone’s father, than people get for stealing.
    The prosecutors and judges around here are monsters.

  • Mike June 14, 2014 (11:12 am)

    I feel bad for the daughter, Destiny Williams. She no longer has a father, a father that loved her and she loved. All because a criminal breaking the law by having a loaded gun made a decision to murder somebody. You don’t have a hand gun in your car unless you intend to kill a human. He had every intent to murder somebody. If not Travis, it would be another person. Chambers should get life, if not the death penalty. It’s premeditated murder.
    I hope the internal prison justice system takes care of this issue better than this judge.

  • Alan June 14, 2014 (11:30 am)

    Thanks again to WSB for the complete reporting of this trial, from beginning to end.

    • WSB June 14, 2014 (1:45 pm)

      Even the sentencing isn’t necessarily the end – as an appeal is promised – so we will track that too.

  • WS15yrs June 14, 2014 (1:34 pm)

    Once again the self-righteous lust for punishment comes to the fore. Chambers is going to pay for his crime and may not survive the length of his sentence but that is just not enough for some. No, you hope our prison system, which is terrible, will exact a punishment you imagined he had coming.

    I find it disturbing that so many people lack compassion. I know that our films and tv shows tend to encourage self-righteous revenge but that is not how we should behave.

    If we could just gentle our souls, we might help to gentle others and prevent the acts of violence that are all too common.

  • Community Member June 14, 2014 (3:05 pm)

    I am surprised at how many people seem to be terribly angry at the judge for having set a manslaughter sentence instead of a murder one sentence. The jury said it was shown to be manslaughter, not murder.

  • Community Member June 14, 2014 (3:52 pm)

    Mr. Hood was shot three times. The undisputed evidence showed that Mr. Hood was holding a shovel over his head at the time that he was shot. The first bullet went into his arm and the force from the first shot spun his body around, hence, the reason the 2nd and 3rd shots went into his back. All three shots were fired within mere seconds. Mr. Hood was also with his friend, another white male at the time of the shooting. In other words, there were two younger white males against a 69 year old black man. Mr. Chambers maintains that Mr. Hood said “I’m going to knock your n***er head off”” as he was holding the shovel. The defense presented evidence to show that the two white males were also intoxicated and were asked to leave the bar for repeatedly saying, “ni**a” loudly throughout the bar. Mr. Chambers was a regular patron.

    At the sentencing hearing, the decedent’s white female friend showed the judge a photo of the decedent with his “black friends” and said that Mr. Hood told her, “these are my ni**as.” Then, she said, “It is just a word.”

    If this case was clear cut, then the jury would’ve likely convicted Mr. Chambers of murder and not the lesser charge of manslaughter, which the state offered at the very end of its weak case. There is always more to the story.

    This was a self defense case. This case highlights a very real problem in this county. Out of 200 people in the entire jury venire, only 1 person was black and he was let go due to a hardship. Mr. Chambers was not judged by his “peers.”

  • Community Member #1 June 14, 2014 (4:20 pm)

    I made the 3:05 post, but I do not know who made the 3:52 post. I agree with the 3:52 post, but it wasn’t cool for someone to use the same posting nickname that somebody else has already used on the thread.
    The 3:05 post and 3:52 posts were made by different people.
    A couple generations ago, jurors were paid a reasonable stipend for their service. I think the stipend has been $10 since the 1950’s. If you work for a big company like Microsoft, you get your regular wages while you serve, but for anyone who is self-employed, or works for a small company, or owns their own business, jury duty can be a big financial hardship. I don’t know whether that effects the racial make-up of the jury pool, but it sure could.

  • Community Member #1 June 14, 2014 (4:22 pm)

    P.S. There is nothing in either the US Constitution nor the Washington State constitution guaranteeing a jury of one’s peers. That language is in the Magna Carta. Or constitution says “impartial jury”.

  • ScubaFrog June 14, 2014 (4:22 pm)

    It’s so sad seeing people so many people in our own community come to the defense of the convicted rapist, kidnapper, bank robber, and now murderer, who is Lovett Chambers.

  • JoB June 14, 2014 (4:53 pm)

    thank you WSB for covering this
    if Mr Chambers had to go to his car for a gun..
    his other choice would have been to get in and drive away.
    i hope he now wishes he had

  • Concerned Citizen June 14, 2014 (5:15 pm)

    Imagine that you’re a white defendant, then imagine being the only white person in the courtroom during your murder trial. And race is a central issue to the state’s case and your defense. Would you feel like you got a “fair trial” by an “impartial jury”?

  • Concerned Citizen June 14, 2014 (5:18 pm)

    Mr. Chamber’s prior criminal history was from 20 years ago and he’s already paid the price for those crimes. That is why his “points” for purposes of sentencing in this case was a 0. His prior convictions don’t count anymore because the prior convictions are so old. This is a completely different case with different facts. And a claim of self defense applies to everyone regardless of whether they have criminal history.

  • rain 206 June 14, 2014 (5:46 pm)

    Imagine that you are a white defendant. Now, imagine that that you are the only white person in the courtroom during your murder trial. And race is central to the case and your defense. Would you feel like you got a “fair trial” by an “impartial jury”?

  • rain 206 June 14, 2014 (5:48 pm)

    Mr. Chambers’ criminal history is from 20 years ago and he already paid the price for those crimes. The reason his “points” for purposes of sentencing in this case was 0 is because his prior criminal history is so old. And a claim of self defense applies to everyone regardless of criminal history.

  • Jason June 14, 2014 (9:28 pm)

    I’m all for compassion, I’ve taken tons of abuse for defending people who have been convicted of theft and robbery and that I feel have gotten a raw deal for race. I would usually be the one taking the WS15yrs and rain206 stance if we were talking something where nobody was hurt, but I think when it comes to assaulting or murdering someone else that’s where everything changes.
    He may have paid his dues on his past crimes but speaking of self-righteous, after all of his past crimes and having been in prison, this guys is still out getting blackout drunk, carrying weapons illegally, getting in fights and eventually killed a guy? How much more arrogant and entitled can a person be? This guy is a hazard to the general public and exactly the type of person that actually should be removed from society. And yes everyone has the right to claim self defense, but apparently the jury wasn’t buying that.
    Compassion is great and we can all benefit from practicing much more of it, but it doesn’t mean continually allowing someone to run amok repeatedly committing acts of violence and murder.

  • miws June 14, 2014 (10:36 pm)

    I think the stipend has been $10 since the 1950′s.


    CM #1, that is correct.


    When I was summoned for Jury Duty two and a half months ago, (as the Lovett Trial was going on, and WSB was providing daily coverage), a Judge that came down to brief us during first day orientation mentioned that the stipend has been at $10.00 since something like 1956, and if it had kept up with inflation, we would have been getting around $87.00/ day.



  • rain206 June 14, 2014 (11:16 pm)

    @ Jason… It is convenient to work backwards from an unfavorable result. An accused person is entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury regardless of the severity of the criminal charge. And this was a self defense case.

  • ScubaFrog June 14, 2014 (11:23 pm)

    Jason’s absolutely right. And usually I’d side with him too, in regards to giving people 2nd and 3rd chances. I can forgive the assaults, the bank robberies, and the fraud. I’d hire most felons and give them a second chance. I’ll never – ever tolerate a rapist. Or a murderer. Those are two acts that in my mind should NEVER be forgiven by society.

    Maybe that makes me “heartless”, and “intolerant” to some of my neighbors in this community – that I won’t forgive rape, or murder. I don’t care. Lovett is a felon who was still running around blackout-drunk with guns, 20 years after what, his 10th felony conviction? This man clearly never “turned his life around”.

    Lovett followed those men. Then retrieved his firearm from his car and went back to The men. I’ll never condone the use of racist slurs. Lovett could have left and called 911 (he never called 911 that night, even after the purported “act of self defense”). I’m incensed that people are still calling this “self defense”. And I’m incredulous that people are still saying “his former criminal life was 20 years ago, leave him alone!”. He never stopped being a criminal.

    I’ve known ex-cons. I’ve seen some really turn their lives around. Real reformed felons. They don’t drink – if they do, it’s not to intoxication. They don’t shoot people, they don’t possess guns – ever. They work hard, pay taxes, and volunteer. You can’t compare a lifelong thug like Chambers to men and women who’ve truly turned their lives around.

  • Rain206 June 15, 2014 (10:34 am)

    Oh, the irony… I bet you probably believed George Zimmerman’s version of events to support his self defense claim simply because he had no prior violent history, despite getting out of the car when told to remain, and despite following and then killing an unarmed black teen.

    Arguing that a person with prior violent history means that the person can never claim self defense later in life is outrageous and not the law.

    I wonder what the verdict would be if there was at least one black juror evaluating the state’s case, but now we’ll never know. How convenient.

  • phil dirt June 15, 2014 (11:00 am)

    What if I shot and killed a black person for calling me a honkey cracker? Should I expect to get off with a lighter sentence? Chambers could have and should have gone home.
    Instead, he went to his car, got his illegally owned .45 and followed Travis Hood to his truck. He would have been in no danger had he just gotten into his car and left.
    Now, I wonder, does this decision set legal precedence which would allow for killing a person, merely for that person having chosen to use offensive language?

  • Rain206 June 15, 2014 (11:21 am)

    If the black person held a shovel over his head and said, “I’m going to knock your cracker head off” then you would also have a valid claim of self defense.

    Zimmerman should’ve gone home too.

    Does that answer your question?

  • Dog Lover June 15, 2014 (12:28 pm)

    Many thanks to the West Seattle Blog for their thorough and continuing coverage of this case. I have a few important things that I’d like to clarify.
    Mr. Chambers did NOT commit murder. The jury found that he did not have the INTENT to kill Mr. Hood, which is necessary by Washington law to be considered second degree murder. Next, the jury evaluated whether Mr. Chambers fired his gun in self-defense. If that was as simple as it sounds, they would have said, yes, Mr. Chambers was afraid that Mr. Hood was going to swing that shovel. And under Washington law, Mr. Chambers had NO obligation to retreat.
    But the legal definition of self-defense is more complicated than that. According to the law, behaviors and actions immediately beforehand must be considered. If beforehand, Mr. Chambers had run back into the bar for help or a number of other things, something a reasonably prudent person might have done, there never would have been a death, an arrest, or a trial. Because Mr. Chambers behavior (or lack of) beforehand led to his feeling threatened by Mr. Hood’s shovel, and thus his shooting him, the verdict was first degree manslaughter.
    Mr. Chambers did not shoot Mr. Hood because of being called names, as a lot of writers think. Yes, he was called racial epithets, but he was also threatened by Mr. Hood and Mr. Vause banging on his car, trying to get in his car, and pulling what Mr. Chambers thought was a knife (and a knife was found in Mr. Vause’s truck.) It was a combination of everything that made Mr. Chambers feel threatened.
    Mr. Chambers had turned his life around, sought education and started his own small business. He did not go out that night “looking for trouble.” Because of his past personal history with violence, Mr. Chambers had his reasons (too lengthy to elucidate here) for carrying a gun in his car, and for walking up the sidewalk with Mr. Hood and Mr. Vause. But it was not the correct choice, and his decision to do so led to the crime of first degree manslaughter.
    Do not blame Judge Doyle for the “light sentence.” It fell exactly within the sentencing guidelines set forth by the Washington State Legislature. Felons are assigned an “offender score” which, among other things, includes the length of the offender’s crime-free behavior, which in this case is 23 years. The lead prosecutor, Ms. Nave, recommended an offender score of zero. Judge Doyle applied that to the sentencing guidelines for a Level XI felony and arrived at the sentence of 78 months. A mandatory five years was added because the crime was committed using a firearm. Judge Doyle followed the law.
    This is a tragic and complicated case. Nobody won. Most definitely not Mr. Hood. Nor his mother, daughter, Jodie Davis and other loved ones. Certainly not Mr. Chambers, nor his wife and friends. My heart goes out to all of them.

  • Community Member #1 June 15, 2014 (1:36 pm)

    Dog Lover – thank you for taking the time to write and share that well-written summary of the case.

  • Jason June 15, 2014 (2:48 pm)

    @rain206 – of course George Zimmerman should have turned around and gone home, he’s also a gun toting maniac. I don’t see the need to jump to racism in this particular case, I mean don’t get me wrong there is a ton of racism in the legal system but this guy and George Zimmerman are relatively similar in my book, they both killed people when they didn’t have to. And yes of course someone is entitled to a fair trial and to claim self defense.
    @Dog Lover – First, I should have been more clear about my distaste for the judges and prosecutors, I was saying that in references to other cases and how they decide to charge people and how much time they get when you compare it to this. I also made the statement about nobody should be killed for saying a word based on another poster’s comment and admittedly it didn’t make much sense for me to say that. It was out of context, inappropriate and just a dumb comment on my part.
    I do think you left out some of the important details like that lengthy explanation of why this convicted felon felt he had to carry that gun or why this education businessman was drunk to the point of being over 3x the legal driving limit, we all are painting pictures with our words here based on how we see this case. I am sure he didn’t show up looking for trouble, but he certainly could have done things a lot differently before, during, and after he shot the guy 3 times.
    To me it comes down to the fact that after all of his past legal troubles he still continued to dismiss the law by packing a gun around, couple that with the fact that he was going out and getting very drunk (and driving?) – this guy was kind of a ticking time bomb in a lot of ways, at least he had all the ingredients of one. But ultimately I agree it’s a very unfortunate situation all around, but I just think this man’s continuous disregard for the law is what makes him dangerous. If he didn’t have a gun that he wasn’t supposed to have, this most likely wouldn’t have happened. Now of course I can’t predict the future nor do I know his typical behavior prior to this but if he was in the habit of drinking that much and then driving home in his car that was parked outside the bar – well he may have found himself in some kind of trouble eventually or killed someone either way. I’m not accusing him of that because I have no idea, maybe he cab’d it home usually but the guy hardly strikes me as a victim here.

  • West Seattle Hipster June 15, 2014 (6:43 pm)

    Jason, your comments are on point, well written.

  • skeptic June 16, 2014 (8:56 am)

    Thank you WSB for all of the time and effort you have put into the coverage of this case.

  • Gracie June 16, 2014 (3:25 pm)

    Mr. Chambers did not receive a fair trial. There was no witness as to who followed who out of the bar that night and the statement that Mr. Chambers followed Mr. Hood were made up by the prosecution. If some person held a shovel of that size and threatened to knock my ****** head off with it I would defend myself in any way possible too. This man only defended his life,was given a biased,unfair trial where much evidence in his favor was blocked by the judge or withheld by the prosecution.He should be set free.

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