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A clerical error elevates a manslaughter conviction to a murder charge in Kennewick

This week, a guy who had pleaded guilty to murder in connection with a robbery in Kennewick, Washington, was set to be sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Anthony T. Spearman, 40, first pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter but then changed his plea to second-degree murder due to a paperwork error.

Spearman originally pleaded guilty in March to the August 2021 shooting of 65-year-old Leonard Slack Jr. at an apartment on Hood Avenue.

Slack passed just two days later from injuries that were discovered to be considerably more severe by doctors at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.

On Thursday, Deputy Prosecutor Brendon Pang told the court that an error was made when Spearman’s prior convictions were utilized to determine his standard sentence range in Washington state.

Authorities mistook a conviction for drug production when they should have been looking for possession charges.

Spearman, according to online court records, has an extensive criminal history that begins when he was just 14 years old and involves mostly narcotics possession charges.

A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Washington reversed felonies for drug possession under state law. They are no longer admissible as sentencing factors in criminal proceedings.

Due to this error, his potential prison time when he pled guilty at the end of March ranged from little over 13 to over 17 years.

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution planned to argue for the highest possible sentence, while the defense may plead for the minimum.

Spearman had the option of continuing with the present deal or withdrawing his plea and going to trial after the mistake was found.

Spearman decided to abandon his defense.

On July 31st, his trial will begin.

Since his arrest on August 12, 2021 in the Thunderbird Motel in Pasco, Spearman has been incarcerated in the Benton County prison. He voluntarily turned himself in to police, including U.S. Marshals, the Tri-City Regional SWAT team, and cops from Kennewick and Pasco.

Assault on Hood Avenue
A neighbor on Hood Avenue said that Slack knocked on his door and asked for assistance, prompting police to respond to Slack’s flat.