Robert Fleeks Jr., 19, was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Suquamish Tribal member Marlin George Jr. in 2018.
Fleeks was formally charged with the crime in March but was sentenced July 23.
George was shot by Fleeks in December of 2018 in Pioneer Square in Seattle. The two had reportedly argued with Fleeks believing that George had stolen a crack rock from him worth $50.
According to police, George, who had struggled with addiction for years, bought crack from Fleek, smoked it, and attempted to purchase a second one, but rather than handing over cash took off running.
Fleeks chased him toward the Coleman Dock where security footage showed the two engaged in a fight, with Fleeks kicking George in the face. The fight moved off-camera, with Fleek’s attorney’s alleging that George took a swing at Fleek with a broken crack pipe, then Fleek hit George with his pistol, ejecting the magazine, leaving a single bullet in the chamber, which Fleek shot, killing George.
During sentencing, Fleeks apologized to George’s family.
“I’m sorry for your loss. It’s something I never wanted to happen… His life was worth more than $50. It’s something that bothers me, and I will have to live with it forever,” Fleeks said.
George was a father of three and active in both the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes. His attorney and family asked King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts to impose the toughest sentence possible on Fleeks, noting that even though he is in prison, his family will still get to see him, whereas George’s family will not.
“They won’t just have memories. They will have him,” said George’s aunt, Georgia George, as part of her testimony.
The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison. Fleeks was facing 26 years, but Roberts dropped the sentence due to Fleek’s lack of maturity and traumatic upbringing.
“He exhibited immaturity and a lack of appreciation of the gravity of the circumstances,” Roberts said, referring to the 2018 tape of Fleek’s interrogation by Seattle police.
As part of his defense, Fleeks stated that an injury had ended his high school sports career, which he believed was his only avenue to a successful life and that from there his life began to spiral. He stated that he has been using his time in jail to study the shared oppression of African Americans and Native Americans.
“Oppression doesn’t condition people to think about the future. When you’re suffering, you’re only trying to make it through the day,” Fleeks said.