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Reaves: 'Even if you sentence me to 99 years, I can't bring my brother back'

The two brothers moved to Friday Harbor to start a new life far from the tough inner-city streets of Tukwila.

Now, one is dead and the other will spend 50 months in prison for fatally shooting his brother in a predawn altercation that left family and friends grief-stricken, perplexed and pleading for leniency.

"I don't think anybody could impose a worse sentence on him than he's imposed on himself," said Ricky Morris, an uncle of the two. "He's lost his best friend. Jail is not going to help."

On Friday, Jawaad Reaves, 22, was sentenced in San Juan County Superior Court to 50 months in prison for shooting his older brother, Jermaine, to death with a shotgun. Reaves, who had no prior felony convictions and as a first-time offender qualified for a reduced sentence, pleaded guilty two weeks earlier to one count of first-degree manslaughter, a Class A felony.

Reaves fatally shot his brother Sept. 28 in their apartment in the 500 block of Tucker Avenue. Officers went to the scene in response to a domestic violence report. When they arrived, they were met in the parking lot by Reaves.

In the apartment at the time were Reaves' mother and a friend. Also found in the apartment was a 20-gauge shotgun.

Charged initially with murder, Reaves pleaded guilty to the lesser offense as part of an agreement that prevented him from asking for a prison term of less than 27 months. While prosecutors recommended a five-year prison term, Reaves' attorney, Bill Jaquette of the Snohomish County Public Defenders Office, asked for 34 months.

When asked by Judge John Linde for a statement before a sentence was handed down, Reaves said any punishment would be overshadowed by the pain he feels for having shot and killed his brother.

"I'm not scared to go to jail," the Friday Harbor drywaller said. "The worst has already been done. Even if you sentence me to 99 years, I can't bring my brother back. The best thing I can do is try to come back a better man."

First-degree manslaughter carries maximum penalties of life in prison, a $50,000 fine or both; however, the standard range of sentencing set by the state is 72-102 months. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison term below the state standard.

While Linde determined that such a sentence was "appropriate," he insisted that the fatal shooting of Jermaine Reaves not be viewed as an accident. He noted that Jawaad Reaves took the time to pick up the shotgun, load it, aim it and fire it. Despite whatever remorse he may now feel, Linde said Reaves "made a choice" when he picked up the weapon and shot his brother.

"What hurts the most is to hear someone say you made a terrible choice," Linde said. "It's not simply an accident. I don't understand how that can happen, even with your mother there trying to separate the two of you ... how could you make that choice."

Reaves was also ordered to pay $900 in fines and fees, and $6,037 in restitution, an amount already paid by the court's crime victim's account to cover cost of his brother's burial. He will serve up to 48 months of probation, depending on a recommendation by state Corrections officials, following his release.

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