A Richland man pleaded guilty Tuesday to assault after his previous charge of premeditated murder was reduced.
Simeon C.E. Howard was accused of pulling out a gun and opening fire on Thomas Contreras De Leon during an argument in a Pasco neighborhood in 2016.
That confrontation had carried over from an earlier fight at Joker’s nightclub involving De Leon and Howard’s half-brother, Nathaniel L. Thompson.
Howard and Thompson are claiming self defense.
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Prosecutor Shawn Sant told the judge Tuesday he wasn’t sure a jury would be convinced it was a premeditated murder.
Howard’s plea in Franklin County Superior Court was to third-degree assault and unlawful possession of a gun.
Howard — who turns 36 on Thursday — had been charged with premeditated first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and first-degree unlawful possession of a 9 mm pistol.
Thompson, 27, has the same murder and drive-by shooting charges, along with first-degree conspiracy to commit murder.
The Kennewick man is expected to enter a guilty plea next week. Both men will be sentenced then.
Prosecutor Shawn Sant told the Tri-City Herald that a more detailed record on why the charges were amended will be made at that time.
Shelley Ajax, Howard’s lawyer, also declined to talk now about the plea deal.
Howard is facing five years and seven months in prison.
De Leon, 27, died from a single gunshot on Dec. 30, 2016. He was dropped off at the hospital by a friend.
Prosecutors claim De Leon and Thompson first exchanged words at Joker’s late Dec. 29.
The two split up, but an upset De Leon reportedly called Thompson and asked him to meet near De Leon’s Pasco home to settle things.
Thompson brought Howard along.
A witness claimed they were standing in the middle of South Myrtle Street when Howard pulled out his gun and shot at De Leon and two others.
The trio ran back to De Leon’s house as Howard and Thompson jumped in their car and fled, documents said.
Investigators found several shell casings in the northeast corner of the intersection, and a second batch of casings about 40 yards away.