CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: ‘Life sentence’ for Robb Mason’s widow. 4-year sentence for his killer

(Courtroom image via Zoom. Claudia Mason at lower right, Mohamed Yusuf with lawyer at center table)

After an hour-long hearing in King County Superior Court, Judge Andrea Darvas gave the man who hit and killed Robb Mason a slightly longer sentence than prosecutors recommended in his plea bargain: 4 years. The recommendation had been just under 3 1/2 years, but the judge said that while she usually follows agreed-to recommendations, “it’s not enough in this case.” She sentenced 21-year-old Mohamed A. Yusuf – who pleaded guilty last week to vehicular homicide and hit-and-run – after hearing from Mr. Mason’s widow and her brother, and from Yusuf and a cousin. In opening the hearing (which we covered via Zoom), prosecutor Amy Freedheim lauded the painstaking investigation through which SPD Traffic Collision Investigation Squad detectives found Yusuf, enabling him to be charged, almost half a year after he hit and killed Mr. Mason just east of the low bridge, as the victim rode his bike home to Magnolia from his job as a West Seattle massage therapist. That is a career to which he changed in his 40s – 20 years before his death – his brother-in-law told the judge, a change he made because he “chose to care” about people and wanted to help them heal. “In the blink of an eye, this remarkable man was taken away from us.”

Claudia Mason told the judge that she has counted the days since her husband was killed – 434 so far – because “each day is another day of the life sentence” with which Yusuf’s actions left her. She said her husband was so healthy, he could have lived another 30 to 40 years and that’s time they could have spent together. “I believe Robb went directly to heaven, but I went straight to hell.” She called Yusuf, sitting in the courtroom feet away from her, “reckless, vicious, callous, cruel … a coward” and “a thief,” declaring that he “stole my life from me … nothing is the same.” She spoke not only of the ongoing pain but also of what happened that night – she didn’t know what had happened to him for hours – and days after, unable to see his “annihilated” body until the funeral. She told the judge that leniency would only do “more harm.”

But leniency is what Yusuf’s defense lawyer asked for, proposing a “first-time offender waiver.” Judge Darvas said that request was a surprise, as she hadn’t received the standard pre-sentencing report from the lawyer, who went on to say that her client had lost his jobs (security and food-delivery driving) while at home under electronic “house arrest” since the charges were filed in January. A cousin spoke briefly to vouch for Yusuf’s character, and then Yusuf spoke: “Please forgive me if you can – I was stupid and ignorant” and, he contended, so afraid afterward that “I didn’t know what to do.”

Facing a courtroom with more than 20 people in the gallery (another two dozen online) and photos of Mr. Mason on easels and benches, Judge Darvas then spoke, saying that Yusuf owed two things: To live a life that would make up for cutting Mr. Mason’s life short, and “a penalty.” She told Yusuf that what he did was “breathtakingly selfish and self-absorbed” and chided him for not taking responsibility “until the police found you.” The judge also acknowledged receiving many community letters and reading them.

It was noted early in the hearing that the 256 days which Yusuf has spent on electronic home monitoring will be applied to the 4-year sentence as “credit for time served.” He will also face a year of community custody (probation) after he is released. Once the proceedings ended, with various paperwork, he was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom by deputies.

40 Replies to "CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: 'Life sentence' for Robb Mason's widow. 4-year sentence for his killer"

  • Admiral DOn September 22, 2023 (4:02 pm)

    so, our letters helped some.  Still, for a man who killed someone and ran away, it seems too light a sentence.   RIP Mr. Mason.  admiral don

    • Derek September 24, 2023 (7:47 am)

      Don’t tell me you believe in the archaic death penalty 

  • Pete September 22, 2023 (4:11 pm)

    Could someone explain how plea deals work in cases like this? I was under the impression that they came about due to the prosecution not being too sure of a conviction, or the prospect of a lengthy expensive trial. I’m not sure how either could apply here. 

    • wscommuter September 22, 2023 (9:16 pm)

      With all respect, your impression is incorrect.  This guy pled guilty as charged.  He didn’t get a reduction in charges.  In WA, all felonies are punished according to RCW 9A – the Sentence Reform Act passed 40 years ago, that sets the seriousness of the crime, as decided by the legislature, and the offender’s criminal history.  Those two factors go into a formula that establishes the “standard range” – a range of possible time of incarceration that the judge pretty much has to follow (there are narrow exceptions to get outside the standard range, but those are pretty uncommon and don’t apply here).  So in imposing 48 months punishment, the judge here imposed a punishment that she could only deviate from within a few months plus or minus.  People are often surprised/upset to learn that vehicular homicide has such a low punishment range.  But that’s set in Olympia, years ago, by the legislature.  The judge’s hands are pretty much tied.  

      • Pete September 22, 2023 (10:48 pm)

        Thanks for educating me. 

        Were there other charges that could’ve been made against him that possibly carried heavier sentences?

        • Pete September 22, 2023 (11:20 pm)

          He had a ‘plea bargain’, what does that mean? Doesn’t that mean pleading guilty to a lesser charge usually? 

          • WSB September 22, 2023 (11:25 pm)

            I should perhaps use the official term, which is “plea agreement.” It does not always mean they pleaded to a lesser charge; in this case, he pleaded guilty to the original charges. But the recommended sentence was part of the “bargain,” though the judge is not required to adhere to it – TR

          • Pete September 23, 2023 (4:40 am)

            Thanks for clearing that up :)

  • oerthehillz September 22, 2023 (4:28 pm)

    Such a hard day for everyone. I hope the driver chooses the right path in prison. It can go either way for him at this point. Those bars can make you worse, or better. Their choice. He has a tough lesson for one moment of entitlement and wreckless arrogance. Hugs to you Claudia. May you find peace.

  • Phb September 22, 2023 (4:37 pm)

    Thank you for the update. RIP Robb, you are missed. 

  • Regular Guy September 22, 2023 (4:46 pm)

    Killers should receive the death penalty.

    • Marina September 22, 2023 (6:09 pm)

      Killers and rapists. 

    • ThisCommunityHates September 22, 2023 (8:51 pm)

      yah let’s empower the state to be able to legally murder, and waste millions of dollars and years of time trying to get a death sentence… you people and your blood thirst will never make sense to me.

      • WSresident September 22, 2023 (9:54 pm)

        Apparently, you’ve never lost a family member to murder. It’s all rosy glasses and lofty goals for restorative justice until you’re the victim of a violent crime, trying to survive, get through the days only to find that the murderer has access to every personal development program that has ever existed. People only react to their own personal circumstances. Have some grace and try to practice empathy, please. Not everyone is lucky enough to sit where you do. 

        • Lauren September 23, 2023 (6:33 am)

          I have lost two family members to vehicular homicide. It’s an awful grief, a vast chasm. I don’t believe there’s any punishment that “fixes” it. Particularly not the death penalty. 

        • ThisCommunityHates September 23, 2023 (12:47 pm)

          lol, what? all that to say: “I want the killer to be killed because revenge is justice to me”. crazed attitude

      • Amp September 22, 2023 (9:55 pm)

        Uh… none of us has killed someone…. And then left our victim in the street, running away and living our lives for over a year like nothing happened. The only one with blood on their hands here is this jerk. 

      • WSresident September 22, 2023 (10:31 pm)

        Apparently, you’ve never lost a family member to murder. It’s all rosy glasses and lofty goals for restorative justice until you’re the victim of a violent crime, trying to survive, get through the days only to find that the murderer has access to every personal development program that has ever existed. People only react to their personal circumstances. Have some grace and try to practice empathy, please. Not everyone is lucky enough to sit where you do. 

        • Another WS resident September 23, 2023 (1:30 am)

          I, too, have lost a family member – a pedestrian – to vehicular homicide. And I remember grief muted surprise in the sentencing length allowed by law, but overwhelmingly, grieving that no matter what happened with the driver, it wouldn’t bring my family member back.But we all grieve differently. @WSR, I’m sorry for your loss.Everyone else, if you think the allowed sentencing length for this crime is too short, email your state house and senate reps.

  • Neighbor September 22, 2023 (4:46 pm)

    This seems insane to me.  He killed a man and ran and never took responsibility.  How do they not throw the book at him?  If he had turned himself in or even better not run then sure, be lenient.  But this just sends the message that running is your best option.  It costs nothing and you might never be caught.

    • Pete September 22, 2023 (5:15 pm)

      I can absolutely see why someone who accidentally hits someone could act with fear, not stop, and then later come to their senses. None of that applies here. This guy actively evaded consequences. Even if the deliberate/reckless part is hard to prove beyond doubt, his actions afterwards are just appalling. I’m so sad. I can’t imagine the horrors Robb’s  poor family have been put through. 

      • Susan September 22, 2023 (8:23 pm)

        He was mowed down; it was no accident. Yusuf crossed the double yellow line and mowed Robb down. It was malice with total disregard for the life he took. His sentence is a disgrace and a slap in the face to his widow and those left to mourn him.

        • Wsresident September 22, 2023 (10:35 pm)

          It’s disgusting. When I heard the reports of neighbors ring cameras listening in on himknowingly killing someone and asking questions about what happens in the alley it was clear, this was no accident- and he didn’t care at all. 

    • Brian September 23, 2023 (6:20 am)

      Apparently they did throw the book at him. When it comes to crimes like this one though it’s more of a comic book. The law needs an adjustment to account for circumstances like this and also in the case of the young woman who was knocked over the seawall and into the bay.  If the driver is behaving recklessly (speeding, doing donuts, racing, aggressive, high/drunk, etc) the guidelines should permit the judge to hand down at least 10 years along with some kind of long-term financial impact.A significant number of young men (mostly) can/will not be controlled by rules. Unless we raise the driving age to 25, the only lever left is to punish them severely. And unfortunately this punishment will mostly just serve as a hollow and empty form of compensation to the victim’s family rather than actually reform or change the perpetrator. Stricter requirements for obtaining a drivers license might be another avenue, but good luck passing it. Also, stricter enforcement at stiffer penalties for reckless driving may help to curtail or remove drivers before their behavior leads to something tragic. In any case, it’s the law that needs to change. Time for some letters to Joe Nguyen. 

  • Julian September 22, 2023 (4:51 pm)

    I think “Narvas” is a typo here as I know of Judge Andrea Darvas, and I’m guessing there isn’t another judge with her exact name save for a letter.

    • WSB September 22, 2023 (5:06 pm)

      You are correct, I am incorrect, fixing. Thanks.

  • Rhonda September 22, 2023 (5:27 pm)

    This is why we need mandatory minimum sentences and they should be lengthened to at least 10 years for manslaughter. This case should’ve been aggrevated manslaughter as he fled and alluded justice for so long. His “timed served” relaxing in comfort at home should NOT be applied to his prison sentence.

    • KBear September 22, 2023 (8:30 pm)

      No, we do not need “mandatory minimum sentences”, because too many restrictions prevent judges from JUDGING. This is an egregious case, and I agree that the sentence was way too lenient, but other cases are different. I would rather see some criminals get an undeserved second chance than others be put away for a cruelly (and expensive) long time if the particular circumstances of their case don’t merit it. Be careful what you wish for. 

  • Dustin September 22, 2023 (5:27 pm)

    This opinion piece in the Seattle Times is an insider account of the systematic light sentencing we are seeing.

  • Alki resident September 22, 2023 (5:32 pm)

    I’m at a loss. He will probably even get out earlier for good behavior for all we know. Claudia was right, Robb was very healthy. He was very athletic, strong and all muscle. My heart breaks for her. I’d do anything to have him back serving our community, he loved his profession. Very disappointed in this decision. 

  • Admiral-2009 September 22, 2023 (5:35 pm)

    Neighbor – agreed.  A person who kills another person and then runs from the incident deserves no mercy!  

    RIP Robb

  • Ly September 22, 2023 (5:46 pm)

    So awful. Four years for taking a life. My friend in Burien was killed in a hit and run in December last year and the perp got 18 months. SMH. Condolences to you Claudia. May your beloved husband rest in peace. 

  • MM September 22, 2023 (6:22 pm)

    This is an absolute travesty. 4 years would perhaps be reasonable if it was a genuine accident, but the recklessness, the need for police to track him down, the pain and suffering of family and friends and everyone involved, the witness statements, Seattle law and order and justice is fundamentally broken. Elected officials need to take a long hard think about this situation and consider the change they need to influence to prevent this kind of situation being repeated over and over again.

  • flimflam September 22, 2023 (9:52 pm)


  • WTF September 22, 2023 (10:37 pm)

    He ran. Enough said.

  • Runner September 23, 2023 (7:05 am)

    Our system is broke, the punishment for his crime makes no sense to me. 

  • Greg September 23, 2023 (8:21 am)

    What an ineffective legal system. Not only a short sentence but credit for time served  of 256 days that poor Yussuf was under “electronic home monitoring”. The “penalty” the Judge imposed certainly was not upon the defendant.Judge Andrea Darvas comes up for re-election January 2025. Remember that name.

  • Steph September 23, 2023 (12:19 pm)

    Please tell me there’s at least an auto insurance settlement that will offset some of the financial burdens. I also think the sentence here was a slap in the face to law abiding citizens. As an elder now I am extremely cautious whenever outside because I am shocked at the huge number of people run down by vehicles, especially elders, especially in West Seattle, Burien.I would love to get an e trike, but I don’t dare. It’s such a shame we’re so unsafe now on so many levels.  I’m so sad about the loss of this wonderful person.

  • local September 23, 2023 (2:15 pm)

    Miss Claudia my heart goes out deeply to you in this time of pain. 

  • tim September 24, 2023 (8:17 pm)

    According to Seattle police, Yusuf’s computer history showed he searched for ‘how long does marijuana(weed) stay in your system’ after the crash.

Sorry, comment time is over.