Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
                                Attorney Steve McKay speaks during a sentencing hearing for Ezekiel “Zeke” Scannell-McCrae, who pleaded guilty in the shooting death of Joseph Hicks.

Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times Attorney Steve McKay speaks during a sentencing hearing for Ezekiel “Zeke” Scannell-McCrae, who pleaded guilty in the shooting death of Joseph Hicks.

Camano murderer gets 18-year sentence

Though he pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to prison Friday, a 37-year-old man is still maintaining he’s innocent in the July 28, 2016 shooting death of a Camano Island man.

Ezekiel “Zeke” Scannell-McCrae spoke briefly at the end of the emotional sentencing hearing in Island County Superior Court in Coupeville. He offered his condolences to the family of his victim, 34-year-old Joseph Hicks, but claimed he pulled the trigger only because he thought the other man had a weapon.

“I didn’t fire upon Mr. Hicks with malice in my heart,” he said.

Judge Vickie Churchill agreed with the joint sentence recommendation work out by the prosecution and defense as part of the plea bargain and sent him to prison for 18 years.

Scannell-McCrae pleaded guilty by way of an Alford’s plea to murder in the second degree. An Alford’s plea means he doesn’t admit his guilt but admits that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him at trial.

Since the murder involved a gun, Scannell-McCrae’s sentence included a five-year enhancement under the state “Hard Time for Armed Crime” law.

Scannell-McCrae’s motives for the shooting remain unclear, but the attorneys involved pointed to mental health problems, drug use and jealousy.

The shooting occurred at the home of his former girlfriend.

Friday, family members of both Hicks and Scannell-McCrae spoke during the hearing.

Hicks’ family described him as a man who had a difficult childhood but had a cheery disposition that could brighten the dreariest days. He got into trouble earlier in his life but was turning things around when his life was ended so prematurely and senselessly, they said.

Hicks’ older brother took the death especially hard and turned to crime and drugs, becoming a shell of what he was, family members said.

Scannell-McCrae’s family members said they know a different man than the one who killed Hicks. They said he’s not a monster, and he’s someone who is loved.

Both Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks and defense attorney Steve McKay said the investigation on both sides was extremely thorough, as was the assessment of the facts. The defense hired five experts; both sides had forensic scientists who looked at the evidence.

Churchill pointed out that the plea bargain means the family doesn’t have to relive the painful memories through a trial. She urged Hicks’ family members to let go of the anger and hatred for their own sakes.

“Now you can go on,” she said.

“Now you can drag yourselves out of this morass.”

More in News

Roll the dice for charity at bunco event

Guild 21 of Providence General Children’s Association is hosting its 14th annual… Continue reading

Community weaves together fundraiser after fiber theft

In late February, Lydia Christiansen and her husband Alan woke up to… Continue reading

Navy extends comment period on special ops training

The area where the Navy conducts special operations training may be expanded… Continue reading

State Parks offer two free pass days in April

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to celebrate… Continue reading

Photo by Drew Kampion
                                Buell Neidlinger played the cello on Whidbey Island in recent years, but he was famous for his bass playing. He passed away March 16.
Neidlinger remembered as world-class musician

With a long beard and strong opinions, Buell Neidlinger was a well-known… Continue reading

Students speak out on school violence

‘They are leading by example’

Backlog of repairs needed at WhidbeyHealth

Officials explain need for $20 million federal loan

New shuttle for whale watchers

Van replaces chug-chugging cart

School violence topic of public forum

Students to lead discussion at WICA talk

Most Read