King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen said the lengthy sentence would ensure Rey Davis-Bell would never again have access to a gun.
“This has been a great loss for us,” said a cousin of the victim, Degene “Safie” Dashasa, who asked to be identified only as Fatuma. “We’re happy with him getting a life sentence. Justice was served.”
She, and other relatives and friends who spoke at the sentencing, described the victim as a hardworking, generous and wise man who was the primary provider for an extended family.
Davis-Bell was convicted by a King County jury in February of first-degree murder for shooting Dashasa in his restaurant on Jan. 30, 2008. He also was convicted of three counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting at two other people in the restaurant and firing gunshots into the window of a former girlfriend’s apartment earlier in the day.
The victim’s relatives said after the shooting that they thought Davis-Bell may have had a grudge against Dashasa because he had run Davis-Bell out of the shop to prevent him from dealing drugs on the premises.
Prosecutors, however, were never able to lay out a motive in court.
Prosecutors said the gunshots Davis-Bell fired at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment were an angry response after learning she had been bad-mouthing him to the woman he was dating at the time.
Davis-Bell maintained his innocence throughout his trial. His defense lawyer, Peter Geisness, said witnesses described the gunman as being between 5-feet-8 and 6 feet tall. Davis-Bell is just 5-feet-4, he said.
Police and prosecutors say that on Jan. 30, 2008, Davis-Bell first shot at his ex-girlfriend’s West Seattle apartment and then drove to Philadelphia Cheese Steak, at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, went inside and asked for Dashasa, 32. As he approached the counter, Dashasa was shot in the chest. A customer, Yo Lee, was shot and wounded as he stood near the front door, according to court charging documents.
Dashasa’s cousin, who was working at the restaurant, ran from gunfire and wasn’t struck, court papers said.
Dashasa, who emigrated from Ethiopia about two decades ago, took over the popular Central Area restaurant after his best friend and business partner, Troy Hackett, was fatally shot in 2003. Hackett’s slaying remains unsolved.
Several months before his death, Dashasa traveled to Ethiopia and married a woman he had met through relatives. He had bought a house and was preparing it for his new bride when he was killed, his family said.
With one bullet, said Fatuma, “We lost the backbone of our family.”
By Christine Clarridge
Source: Seattle Times