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

June 28, 2011 at 3:48 PM

'Tuba Man' killer now accused of ramming woman's car

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan


Billy Chambers during a court hearing earlier this year.

Billy Chambers, one of three juveniles convicted of the 2008 slaying of Seattle street musician Ed "Tuba Man" McMichael, is back behind bars, this time for allegedly deliberately ramming a woman's car.

Chambers, now 18, was arrested by Seattle police last week after a woman said that he intentionally struck her car. Chambers was charged in King County Superior Court Tuesday with second-degree assault and hit and run.

Prosecutors allege Chambers struck the woman's car and ran her off the road because she had filed a police report against him after an earlier car prowl.

Chambers is accused of rear-ending the woman's car while it was stopped for a traffic light at the intersection of 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street around 3:45 p.m. on Thursday. The woman told police that as she tried to drive away the same car followed in the next lane and swerved toward the passenger side of her car, causing her to leave the roadway and strike a tree, according to charging paperwork.

The woman was not hurt.

She told officers that she recognized the driver of the mid-1990s Ford Crown Victoria that hit her, according to charging papers. She said that she had reported him to police about a week earlier after he allegedly broke into her car, according to charging paperwork.

Police located the Crown Victoria parked outside Chambers' home and were allowed inside. Officers said they overheard Chambers on the phone saying "will you please tell them you did it," charges allege. When Chambers was arrested he told police that he had been sleeping all day and that someone else had been using his car.

In her request to have Chambers held in lieu of $250,000 bail, King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amy Montgomery wrote that the "State has grave concerns for the safety of the community" in reference to Chambers.

"The defendant was angry at the victim for filing a police report against him," Montgomery wrote. "While it is fortunate that no occupants of the car or pedestrians were injured, it does not lessen the risk that the defendant's violent actions could harm someone."

Montgomery said that Chambers has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions as an adult for first- and third-degree theft. And juvenile convictions for first-degree manslaughter, second-degree robbery and possession of stolen property, Montgomery wrote.

Chambers has pending King County District Court cases stemming from incidents on June 8, June 21 and 22, when he was caught either driving without a license or operating a vehicle without insurance, Montgomery wrote.

Chambers, who was 15 when he and two other boys were prosecuted in McMichael's slaying, spent about 18 months at Maple Lane School in Centralia in connection with McMichael's death and another robbery on the same night in October 2008.

The sentences for Chambers and the two other youths who fatally beat McMichaels outraged many in the community. Because no witnesses came forward, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said his office was forced to charge the three teens as juveniles instead of seeking to have them charged as adults.

For 20 years, McMichael, 53, was a fixture at Mariners, Sonics and Seahawks' games and around the Seattle Center -- trading his talent for spare change.

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