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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

December 23, 2010 at 4:52 PM

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Suspect in football star's slaying facing gun charge

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

A man who was arrested in connection with the slaying of former Kentridge High School football star Devin Topps was charged Thursday with unlawful possession of a firearm.

Jorge Luis Lizarraga, 20, remains the key suspect in the fatal shooting of the 18-year-old man, but the King County Prosecutor's Office has not yet charged him with the slaying. A charging decision will be made next week, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

In the meantime, Lizarraga remains in jail in lieu of $750,000 bail, prosecutors said.

During the early morning of Oct. 31, Kent police found Topps lying on the ground in the 20200 block of 92nd Avenue South, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound, according to the certification of probable cause filed in the case Wednesday. Medics tried to revive Topps, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, the certification says. Several .40-caliber shell casings were found nearby.

Before he was killed, Topps had been at a Halloween party when a number of uninvited people arrived at the house, Kent police said. When the party crashers were told they should leave, a fight broke out. Topps fought one of them and won. A party crasher then pulled a gun and shot Topps in the back as he walked away, authorities said.

Two witnesses who were at the party identified Lizarraga as the shooter, according to the certification.

On Tuesday night, Kent police received a tip that Lizarraga was staying at the Kings Arms Motel in Des Moines, according to the certification. Detectives saw Lizarraga leave in a vehicle, and he was arrested after a short chase.

When investigators searched Lizarraga's home they found two stolen guns, one of which had been stolen from a State Patrol trooper's home during a burglary, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dana Cashman in charging documents. Lizarraga's girlfriend told police that the he seemed anxious to hide the trooper's gun "in an attempt to evade police," Cashman wrote.

While Cashman did not say in charges whether the gun stolen from the trooper may have been used to kill Topps. A witness told police the gun used in the shooting was a black, semi-automatic handgun with "made in Germany" inscribed on it, the certification says. The witness also said that the words 'Law Enforcement' were inscribed on the gun, the certification said.

Lizarraga has 15 previous criminal convictions, six of which are felonies, prosecutors said. Several police departments are currently investigating him for numerous crimes, including burglary, assault and vehicular assault, hit and run, Cashman wrote.

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