A Spokane man accused of lying to police his knowledge of a fatal shooting in January faces at least 20 months in prison for a crack cocaine conviction when he's sentenced later this summer.
Eric "Smalls" Burton, Jr., recently pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. He's to be sentenced Aug. 9.
Burton had 26 baggies of crack cocaine when Spokane police stopped him last August. The officers knew Burton had a Department of Corrections warrant for his arrest, said Burton's lawyer, Chris Phelps.
Phelps said the arrest was "ripe for pretrial suppression" because of issues with the police search, but "we have voluntarily declined to pursue those." Phelps said the case had been sent to federal prosecutors, but they declined to pursue it unless Burton didn't plead guilty as charged.
Burton's standard sentencing range calls for 20 to 60 months; Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz said last week he'll recommending the low end.
Burton also is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance for allegedly lying to police about what he knew about the murder of John S. Williams on Jan. 17.
Burton was arrested the day of the murder after police found the Ruger mini-rifle used to kill Williams in a rental car Burton drove to the scene, but the first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm charge was dismissed in April because Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said "there is insufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of this case until further investigation," according to court documents.
The new rendering criminal assistance charge was filed against Burton early this month. He was arrested June 2 and posted $50,000 bail the next day.
His cousins, Cedric E. "Dirty" Burton and James C. Henderson, remain in jail on charges connected to the murder.
The accused triggerman, Edward "TD" Thomas, remains a fugitive, as do Marc A. "Bookie" Carter, John E. Burton, 27, and Christopher J. Route, 23.
Past coverage: June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder