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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Yakima gang member gets nearly 17 years in prison for 2017 Wapato shooting

Nov. 26, 2021 Updated Fri., Nov. 26, 2021 at 6:01 p.m.

By Donald W. Meyers Yakima Herald-Republic Yakima Herald-Republic

A 24-year-old Yakima gang member has been sentenced to almost 17 years in prison for shooting a man in Wapato nearly five years ago.

James Matthew Seaunier pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault Tuesday in Yakima County Superior Court. Judge Richard Bartheld sentenced him to 101 months on each count and ordered the sentences to run consecutively for a total of 202 months, or 16 years and 10 months.

In return for Seaunier’s plea, prosecutors dropped five counts of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree unlawful firearms possession and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, witness intimidation, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Prosecutors made the offer after contending with witness availability issues, Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said, as well as the length of time between the initial crime and a trial date.

“It’s a gang case. We had difficulty on a number of levels with cooperation,” Brusic said. “It was not the best solution, but we believe that justice was served.”

Clark’s accomplice, Edgal Herman Keona Clark, 23, was sentenced to 25 years after pleading guilty to first-degree assault in 2019. Five of those years are a firearm enhancement that cannot be reduced through good behavior.

Prosecutors say Clark and Seaunier went to a home in the 200 block of West Elizabeth Avenue in Wapato on Jan. 14, 2017, and shot a man in the leg, arm and back. A witness told police that the man had been shot because he gave a statement to police about a Norteño gang member, according to court documents.

Clark and Seaunier are both documented gang members, according to court records.

The man survived the shooting, court documents said.

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