Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 41° Partly Cloudy
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Family ‘disappointed in our system’ as suspect in Makayla Young’s near-decapitation weighs plea deal

UPDATED: Fri., April 23, 2021

Emily Young and her mother, Christy, donned “Justice for LaLa” shirts Friday and tearfully sat in the front row of a Spokane County courtroom as the man accused of killing their sister and daughter, Makayla Young, walked past them in handcuffs.

The Young family was in court to watch Anthony D. Fuerte plead guilty, but at the last minute, that didn’t happen.

Makayla Young, 24, was found dead at the Rodeway Inn in April 2020 with severe injuries, including multiple stab wounds to her chest.

Two men were arrested in relation to her killing the next week: Fuerte and Lionel White. White’s murder charge was later dropped.

Fuerte, 28, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder, armed robbery and attempted robbery.

The Young family spent the last year waiting for justice for Makayla Young, fondly called LaLa, something Emily said she now fears won’t happen.

Just a few months ago, the family said they were trusting the criminal justice system to hold Fuerte accountable.

“We’re just putting our faith in the process at this point,” Michael Young, Makayla Young’s father, said in February. “You just got to hope that they just put these people away for the rest of their lives that did these things, and that’s my hope, is that nobody would ever have to go through what we’ve gone through again.”

Since then, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has presented the family with multiple plea deals, Emily Young said.

But the family wanted Fuerte to go to trial and get the most severe punishment possible, she said.

“We said no and no and no, over and over and over again, to a plea and it was pushed forward anyways,” Emily Young said. “We were adamant about it.”

So on Friday afternoon, Emily, Christy and Michael Young, along with Emily Young’s sister Brittanie Bonazino, her aunt and her grandparents, tearfully filed into a courtroom on the fourth floor of the Spokane County Courthouse.

As Fuerte was brought in, Emily Young leaned on her mother’s shoulder and cried. The entire family was in tears as they waited for the hearing to begin.

And then, Prosecutor Dale Nagy called the family into the hall.

“They were just explaining to us that Anthony didn’t want to take the deal today and that I had to be sympathetic to him,” Emily said in frustration.

The family and Nagy returned to court, where the plea hearing turned into a status conference.

“We thought we had this case resolved,” Nagy told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

The plea offer will remain open for a week, Nagy said.

The defense and prosecution both agreed to keep Fuerte’s trial scheduled for June 14, and court quickly adjourned.

“He wants a week for thinking it over, but this isn’t something we wanted to take in the first place,” Emily Young said outside of court. “We’ve been fighting up against the system for a long time.”

While Emily Young said she doesn’t know the terms of the current plea deal, she fears it will allow Fuerte to get out of prison when he’s in his 50s.

“We feel like Makayla deserves more than this,” she said. “She deserves more than a plea deal, and we’re just really disappointed in our system.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.