Teen admits role in homicide, gets juvenile detention
As Sue Chamberlin prepared for work last Aug. 26, she heard a news report about a murder that morning on the North Side. She immediately said a prayer for the victim and his family.
Little did Chamberlin know her prayer would be for herself and her own family.
Hours later, Spokane police showed up at her job to tell her that her only child, Gene R. Chamberlin, had been fatally shot.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Chamberlin told a judge. “I just remembering screaming, `No.”’ On Thursday, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ellen Clark sentenced 15-year-old Carlos Fuentes to juvenile detention until age 21 after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Chamberlin.
Sue Chamberlin and Angelique Chamberlin - the mother of Gene’s two daughters, ages 4 and 2 - both told Fuentes at his sentencing that they have forgiven him.
“He ( Fuentes) reminds me a lot of Gene,” Angelique said. “A good person who made bad choices. I pray for Carlos.”
With tears in his eyes, Fuentes apologized to the Chamberlins. “Thank you for forgiving me for what I did,” Fuentes said.
Angelo Fuentes, Carlos’ uncle, told the judge he hopes his nephew has learned from his mistakes.
“I told all my nephews when they were growing up not to get into the same stuff I did,” Angelo Fuentes said. “I hope and pray that he realizes this is not a game. This is life.”
Police say Fuentes and co-defendant Aro T. Williams-Walker, who were both 14 at the time of the shootings, were trying to buy “sherm” - formaldehyde-soaked cigarettes laced with PCP - from 22-year-old Chamberlin.
Williams-Walker confessed that he pointed his .22-caliber handgun through a car window and shot Chamberlin, court papers say. Fuentes confessed to being an accomplice.
Police found Chamberlin’s body in a credit union parking lot at Lyons and Lidgerwood after receiving a 911 call from a friend of the victim who witnessed the shooting, court papers say.
Believing Fuentes could be rehabilitated, Clark kept him in the juvenile court system, but transferred Williams-Walker to adult court, where he is scheduled to be arraigned next week.
Testimony against Williams-Walker suggested that he was “sophisticated” beyond his years and lived a rougher life than Fuentes.
In adult court, first-degree murder without any prior convictions carries a sentencing range of 20 to 26 years in prison.
“Gene broke the law and should have gone to jail,” Sue Chamberlin said. “Carlos sentenced him to death. I can forgive Carlos, but I can’t forget what he has done.”
At his declination hearing to determine if he would be tried as an adult or as a juvenile, prosecutors and police painted a picture of Fuentes as a cold-blooded killer who is associated with gangs. Defense attorneys called Fuentes a “little kid emotionally.”
Clark said Fuentes would not likely spend the rest of his life behind bars if he were convicted as an adult. Upon release from adult prison, he could be an even greater threat to the community than some perceive him to be now, she said.
Citing stronger rehabilitation programs in juvenile detention, Clark said she prefers to see Fuentes have a chance to turn around his life.