Joey Jake Moses, one of two men involved in a 2006 home-invasion murder on the Spokane Indian Reservation, was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea.
The 24-year-old confessed murderer received the long sentence even though Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Kimball urged the court to only impose a 20-year term because Moses had agreed to be a government witness against Norman “Griz” Ford, 31, of Wellpinit, Wash.
Ford, scheduled for sentencing May 23, was convicted Feb. 4 by a U.S. District Court jury of first-degree murder in the June 1, 2006, shooting death of 20-year-old Gary R. Flett Jr.
Moses, who testified to being previously bullied and intimidated by Flett, told Ford his girlfriend had a sexual relationship with Flett, according to trial testimony. After a night of drinking, Moses got a gun from his home on the reservation before he and Ford went to Flett’s home before dawn, shooting him in the living room.
Moses was arrested by FBI agents three days later upon his return to Spokane after briefly fleeing to California. He didn’t initially implicate his friend, Ford, in the shooting, but provided those details in early 2007 when he struck a plea bargain with the U.S. attorney’s office.
Ford didn’t flee and contacted authorities after the shooting, implicating Moses. Ford initially was charged only with being an accessory to murder. That was changed to first-degree murder six months later after Moses began giving FBI agents details about Ford’s role in the murder.
In exchange for testifying as a prosecution witness against Ford, Moses was expecting to be given credit for “substantial assistance” and face a sentence of 18 to 25 years in prison.
The judge, not bound by the government’s bargain with Moses, sentenced him to 35 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. Moses has been in custody since June 2006.
U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt said the case involved “a tragic and needless loss of life.”
“Because of the concerted actions of these two individuals, the lives of three families have been irrevocably destroyed,” McDevitt said.