A King County Superior Court judge sentenced the man whose killing of another young man inside Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone three years ago brought intense scrutiny to first responders for refusing to respond.
Marcel Long, 21, was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison followed by three years in community custody as part of his guilty plea deal for shooting to death 19-year-old Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr. in June 2020. They were both in the eight-block CHOP area that protesters claimed to protest George Floyd’s murder by police in Minnesota.
Police took more than a year to arrest Long in connection with the killing.
Long was also ordered to pay restitution, which will be determined at a later date.
The courtroom was emotional Friday. Family members addressed Long directly, sharing the pain and grief that Anderson’s murder has caused them.
They pleaded with Judge Karen Donohue to reconsider the sentence, saying it was too short. Long’s charges were also amended at one point from first-degree murder to second-degree murder, according to court documents.
Anderson’s father, Horace Lorenzo Anderson Sr., called the sentence a “slap on the wrist,” saying it was not enough time for Long to sit with what he had done.
“We were force-fed this deal,” he said.
The sentence is long for a young man with no criminal history, said Long’s attorney, Adrien G. Leavitt. This was harmful and tragic but the court needed to consider a psychological evaluation, Leavitt urged, determining Long has neurodevelopmental issues caused by a premature birth, trauma and exposure to violence, among other factors.
Long, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, was functionally more like an 11- to 14-year-old, with intellectual limitations and learning disabilities that reduced his decision-making abilities, court documents say.
In a letter read in court, Long wrote that he was sorry for the pain and suffering Anderson’s family now endures.
“I would like to thank you for trying to understand the mistake of a kid in the streets but most of all I’m thankful for helping me understand the life I don’t want, but one I need, by simply just wanting me to change,” he wrote.
Fatal shooting in spotlight
Police and fire officials’ refusal to respond to Anderson’s death sparked outrage in the community.
Anderson bled to death and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in the back of a pickup, according to a lawsuit filed by his father. In 2022, the city of Seattle agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the suit, which claimed Anderson would have survived had paramedics and police gone into CHOP.
Long and Anderson had a history of “animosity,” court documents said, citing a video posted on social media that showed a previous fight between the two.
Surveillance video the night of the shooting shows the men coming across each other and exchanging words before Long took out a handgun and pointed it at Anderson, who walked away. Long was restrained by others but broke free and chased after Anderson, shooting him several times.
Anderson’s family pointed to that in criticizing the reduced charge.
Court documents said Long was experiencing fight-or-flight hyperarousal, a primary symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Long’s development — including his functional maturity, inability to modulate behavior and intellectual disability — was severely impacted by a premature birth, two strokes at 4 and 12, trauma and various adverse factors in family, childhood, school and neighborhood life, according to court documents.
His psychological evaluation determined that his strokes exacerbated existing cognitive limitations, because he didn’t receive care and medical follow-ups.
Long experienced an overwhelming amount of loss in his youth, including family and friends killed in what appeared to be gang-related shootings, according to police. He was also exposed to family and community violence, being shot at and hit in a drive-by shooting shortly before he killed Anderson, documents say.
“Marcel has lost a significant number of people close to him. The loss of three primary support figures … decimated his coping resources,” his analyst said.
Because exposure to violence shapes the way one sees the world, people who have been traumatized will develop a heightened expectancy that they will be in danger and will experience further violence, court documents state.
Both the U.S. and Washington Supreme Courts recognize that 18 years of age does not represent a “neurological milestone” and development continues well into a person’s mid-20s.
While neurological defects don’t absolve people from criminal responsibility, they do reduce culpability, documents state, citing previous court decisions.
Family criticizes sentence
On Friday, Anderson’s father told Donohue he did not understand how the court could bring forward a sentence under 20 years.
“I understand he’s a kid,” he said. “My son was too.”
Anderson’s family criticized the sentence in court Friday, saying they did not agree with offering Long a midrange sentence and that every layer of the justice system failed them.
“I gave you nothing but respect,” Anderson told Long, recounting the times they interacted with one another, having both lived in the South End.
There’s nothing “gangster” about this, he said. “These are senseless killings.”
Donohue briefly suspended the hearing after a brief confrontation in which Anderson’s mother made her way to Long’s family on the other side of the courtroom, saying “You are not going to disrespect my son.”
Upon returning, Anderson’s mother addressed Long, telling him the system and those who were meant to be a support for him had failed him, too.
“You’re a kid,” she said. “I don’t want to hurt you, but my son should be here.”
Family members described Anderson as a “goofy” person who always looked out for his siblings, and they mourned the fact that they will never be able to see or hear him laugh again.
Anderson’s father relayed the fear his other children and family live with, some too scared to leave the home out of fear they’ll be shot at.
Long’s father, Alvin Green, addressed Anderson Jr.’s family during the court session, apologizing to them and saying parents try to do their best in raising their children but sometimes they are led astray.