SPOKANE, Wash. — A man convicted of stealing a gun used in a murder was given 125 years in prison — about a century longer than the actual killers received after taking plea deals.
Christopher G. Nichols, 27, was sentenced Tuesday for gun theft, trafficking in stolen property, being a felon in possession of firearms, and other crimes, said a report in The Spokesman-Review.
The prosecutor, Tim Rasmussen, said sentences for the gun crimes must be served one after another under Washington’s 1995 Hard Time for Armed Crime law.
Nichols and his lawyer took the case to trial after turning down a plea deal that could have reduced his sentence by about 100 years.
Nichols, who had no role in the 2011 killing of Gordon Feist, wept as the sentence was read, Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen defended the sentence, saying the burglary was ‘‘the root of this violent and senseless killing of Mr. Feist, who was acting as a good Samaritan when he was killed.”
‘‘This law has been upheld many times in appellate court,’’ Rasmussen said.
‘‘It represents a decision by the Legislature to strike at the root of violent crime.’’
On June 28, 2011, Nichols and Eric L. Booth, 26, broke into a home and stole a safe containing several firearms.
Booth then planned a ruse with 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin and 25-year-old Collette M. Pierce to burglarize the home of feist, 63, who had served three tours in Vietnam as a Navy SEAL.
They pretended they had run out of gas, and Feist agreed to help.
Feist was driving the suspects back to their car with gas when Booth shot him in the head, using one of the stolen guns.
All three later reached plea agreements and testified against Nichols.
Fellman-Shimmin was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder; Booth was given 26½ years for first-degree murder. A judge gave Pierce 15 years for second-degree murder.