A 26-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting and killing 22-year-old Jakobe Ford outside Lucky’s Bar just over a year ago.
Michael H. Le, who wore a white Spokane County Jail jumpsuit, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and criminal mischief.
“The only positive thing is we don’t have to go trial,” Robi Rogers, Ford’s mother, told The Spokesman-Review. “My daughter doesn’t have to testify because she was right there and watched the whole thing.”
Rogers said Le should be in prison for life.
“My son had a life ahead of him and (Le) didn’t care, so I don’t know why we care so much about him,” she said.
On top of being a father, Ford was a Shadle Park High School graduate and track star in his time there.
Latasha Lofton, Ford’s sister who witnessed the shooting, said Jahari, Ford’s 4-year-old son, is not getting justice.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all for him, because he’s going to be growing up without a father and I just feel like he’s getting robbed,” Lofton said.
Court documents indicate Ford and Le knew each other. A woman told police she was dating Ford at the time of his death and previously dated Le and was the mother of Le’s child.
Lofton told police there were problems with Le and Ford in the past, including physical fights.
Le was arrested in February 2021 on suspicion of second-degree assault, which listed Ford and his girlfriend as the victims, documents said. A pretrial no-contact order was issued protecting Ford’s girlfriend. The order required Le to surrender any firearms.
On July 31, 2021, Lofton said in documents she saw Le engage with Ford at Lucky’s, and it appeared as if Le was taking photos of Ford. Le left the bar but continued to behave as if he was taking pictures or video of Ford using his cellphone.
Ford left the bar with a group of friends, and he and Le appeared as if they were going to fight, Lofton told police. She said Le then made a motion and turned away from Ford slightly, then turned back again. Lofton said she observed four gunshots, adding that she did not see the gun but did see the sparks from the gunshots. Le then ran.
Another witness told police she saw a big flash and blood coming from Ford. She performed CPR on Ford until Spokane police officers arrived.
Other witnesses, including an officer, reported around four gunshots. The officer said Le fled in the vehicle but was stopped by other patrol units in the area of Howard Street and Riverside Avenue.
Video surveillance showed Le entering and exiting Lucky’s, 408 W. Sprague Ave., three times in about 40 minutes, starting around 11 p.m. July 31. Ford is seen on video leaving the bar shortly after Le exited a fourth time.
An argument ensued and Le appeared to grab at the fanny pack he was wearing as the two argued, video showed. Le removed an object from the pack on his chest and held it in his right hand. He then stepped in front of Ford, turned and fled. People scattered as the shooting happened.
Meanwhile, messages between Ford and Le talked about the two fighting each other.
Some messages from Le to Ford included, “… the morgue where you going,” and “It’s 2021 it’s gun play.” Another message thread showed Le telling Ford, “Straight up know I’m shooting” followed by “That’s that.” Ford replied, “Ok” and then Le wrote, “You ain’t even gon get the chance to do nothing.”
According to documents, Le messaged Ford’s girlfriend minutes before the shooting telling her that Ford was at Lucky’s and asking her to tell Ford to come outside. Le wrote, “If I don’t see my son I’m going to jail” and “Either way somethings happening tonight.” Ford’s girlfriend told Le not to do anything.
The maximum penalty for first-degree murder in Washington is life in prison and a $50,000 fine. Le’s standard sentencing range for first-degree murder is 22 to 29 years in prison, plus three years of community custody when he is released from prison.
Spokane County deputy prosecutor Sharon Hedlund said the case was set for trial Monday but both sides reached a plea agreement Tuesday. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 23 in front of Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel.
“I’m glad that you accepted responsibility,” Hazel told Le Wednesday.
This April, three people were seriously injured in a drive-by shooting outside the pub. Johnathan Love, 29, faces three counts of drive-by shooting and three counts of first-degree assault in the downtown attack.
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