Two Lummi Nation men involved in a drug deal that ended in a fatal stabbing were sentenced for involuntary manslaughter Friday, Jan. 11, in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Johnathan Casey Phair, 25, was sentenced to five years, and Dezi-Rey Thomas Louie, 22, was sentenced to four years for the December 2011 stabbing death of 22-year-old Lamar Felipe James at a home on the Lummi Reservation.
Phair and Louie went to the home to buy drugs, according to court documents. Louie met with James in a back room of the home and the two got into a fight. Phair rushed in with a butcher knife and stabbed James multiple times, severing an artery with one of the cuts. The men ignored the serious wounds and didn't call for help, instead running from the home and burning their clothes to hide their guilt.
When neighbors responded to James' cries for help, he told them "Otter killed me," according to court documents. Otter was a nickname for Phair. James died shortly after police and medics arrived.
Prosecutors agreed to the involuntary manslaughter plea - rather than seeking a more severe charge - because the two men were the only witnesses to the stabbing and going to trial wouldn't have guaranteed a conviction, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie.