In 1993, Washington state passed the Persistent Offender Accountability Act, the nation’s first “Three Strikes Law,” which was based on research from the Washington Institute for Policy Studies. The law said that anyone convicted of a third serious felony would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; no furloughs, parole or time off for good behavior.
One of the criminals used as an example by policymakers drawing up the state's three-strikes law was a man named Stonney Marcus Rivers, as Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center pointed out. Guppy told KIRO, "He became one of the first cases in our state that was eligible for 'three strikes, you're out.’”
Only days before the term of former Governor Christine Gregoire ended in 2013, she commuted Rivers’ sentence. He was then released from prison in early 2015.
Now he stands accused of murder.
On November 2, police officers raced to the Golden Kent Motel after a shots-fired call. They found David Cabrera dead from a shot to the face; police suspected the murder was part of a drug deal gone sour.
Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said surveillance video revealed Rivers had fled the scene. He added, "We believe it was Mr. Rivers that pulled the trigger. We certainly know, if Mr. Rivers' sentence wasn't commuted, he wouldn't be out of custody and he would not have committed that crime.”
Court records showed that Rivers had multiple convictions for robbery and assault, and "a propensity for violence that creates a substantial likelihood of danger to the community."
Guppy said, “He was sentenced to life, so the system worked, and for every day he stayed in jail, the public was safe. In this case, he was released and he committed another violent crime. It's a stunning failure of a system that was put into place by the voters of our state to protect the public from exactly this kind of person.”