Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times, June 17, 2010
The sister of the man who murdered four Lakewood police officers in November was sentenced Thursday to an unusually long term of five years in prison, giving a potential glimpse of the future for six related cases still pending.
LaTanya Clemmons, 34, had no criminal history and potentially faced six to 12 months under the standard sentencing range. But prosecutors argued the extraordinary case merited an extra-long sentence.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend agreed. She told Clemmons that although her actions “would not have changed the fate of the officers,” they did delay the capture of the getaway driver and prolonged the anxiety of the community and the officers’ grieving families.
DeLong [Tom DeLong, the brother of one of the four policeman] recalled getting news that a Seattle police officer had killed Maurice Clemmons at 3 a.m. on Dec. 1–40 hours after the worst attack against law enforcement in state history.
“When that drug-dealing rapist cop-killer was shot in the street, I tasted justice, and it tasted good,” DeLong said. “We expect to get another helping of justice today, and we expect to get six other helpings,” he said, referring to pending cases.
But the primary evidence against Clemmons was her own words: a rambling taped interview played for the jury in which, after hours of questioning, she admitted hearing Allen confess to a role in the shooting.
The trial also disclosed, for the first time, chilling details about the chaotic shooting inside the Forza Coffee shop, and law enforcement’s exhaustive efforts to find Maurice Clemmons.
The eight-man, four-woman jury convicted Clemmons of two counts of rendering criminal assistance related to the hours after the shooting, but acquitted her of two counts related to her actions in the days that followed.
Clemmons was the first to go to trial among the so-called “Clemmons Seven” who’ve been charged with aiding Maurice Clemmons. LaTanya Clemmons’ case was viewed as the weakest among them, and other defense attorneys attended the trial as prosecutors disclosed evidence likely to be used against them.
Four trials–against Clemmons’ brother, aunt and two friends–are scheduled for Sept. 7. Except for Clemmons’ brother, all face more serious charges that LaTanya Clemmons faced.
The alleged getaway driver, Darcus Allen, is scheduled to go to trail in March 2011 on aggravated first-degree-murder charges, a potential death-penalty offense.