A 19-year-old Tacoma man changed his plea to guilty Monday morning in the tragic death of Chayson Colley Jones, a 2-year-old from McCleary.
Jake Musga pleaded guilty to Murder in the First Degree and Rape of a Child in the First Degree. Sentencing was set for Nov. 21.
“Nothing shocks the conscience more than the murder of a child,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist in a press release issued on Monday. “We are asking the court for the functional equivalent of a life sentence.”
“As part of his plea, the defendant admitted he murdered the 2-year old boy because he was mad the child had urinated on him,” according to the press release from the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
At about 4 a.m. on March 30, a 911 caller reported that the defendant was in the lobby of the Commencement Terrace apartment complex holding a badly bruised young boy who was not breathing, according to the press release. A witness called 911. Tacoma Police and Fire responded to the apartment complex and transported Colley Jones to a trauma center. Medical staff noted the child was in “major shock” and his condition was “catastrophically bad,” according to the press release. Bruised from head to toe, the child had a blood alcohol level of 0.12. He showed no significant brain activity and was pronounced dead later that day.
Little Chayson was the son of Laura Colley and Brannon Jones and the grandson of Ron and Bobbye Jones as well as Cathy and Troy Colley. Cathy is involved in Republican political circles and works for the legislature. Troy is a McCleary School Board member. Ron Jones is a contract forester and has lived in the Elma area his entire life.
Commencement Terrace is where the boy and mother lived and also worked as a leasing manager, a job she had taken just a couple of months before Colley was murdered. Prior to that, she and the boy lived with the Colleys in McCleary.
Laura was not at home at the time of the murder. She was celebrating her birthday. Musga was her boyfriend and was watching the child.
The Vidette has had an outstanding public records request since May to review the investigative records of the case. Deputy Tacoma City Attorney Jon Walker said last week the reports were being reviewed to determine if they contain any exempt information.
“We are happy that Jake has chosen to plead guilty to the murder of Chayson,” said Cathy Colley, serving as spokeswoman for the Colley family. “No outcome can make up for our loss. Today’s action relieves our family from the pressure of a trial and allows us to focus on healing. We miss Chayson and his beautiful spirit every minute of every day.”
Asked about Musga pleading guilty, Ron Jones said, “I don’t think that’s right because I think there should have been a trial. At trial, I think more people would have been held responsible. … My family is so distraught about all of this.”
The prosecutor notes that the guilty plea also acknowledged the crimes warrant an exceptional sentence. The defendant’s standard range sentence is 22 years to life, but the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office will be asking the judge to sentence the defendant to 60 years to life.
“We would be happy for 60 to 65 years,” Colley said. “He would be a very old man when he gets out.”
The News Tribune notes that a child rape conviction could end up as a life sentence for Musga. Under state sex-crime laws, Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff will set a minimum sentence for Musga, but it will be up to the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board to decide when, if ever, Musga would qualify for release.
The Pierce County Prosecutor’s press release notes that the autopsy revealed that Chayson “suffered injuries too numerous to count, but there were specific fatal blows to the head and torso. The Medical Examiner stated the injuries were consistent with abuse.” The child “also suffered significant internal and external injuries to the rectum consistent with penetration by an object.”