Court report

SEATTLE — A member of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 years in prison for his role in a February 2019 shooting on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, according a news release.

Joseph Sam, 44, was convicted in June of conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury following a four-day jury trial.

According to court records and testimony at trial, Sam conspired with two others to rob a man of an ounce of heroin.

The co-conspirators’ plan was for one of them to pose as a buyer of the heroin and for Sam to then show up and rob the man.

With his face covered, Sam arrived at a residence where the two co-conspirators were waiting with the victim. When the victim fought back, Sam shot him in the back, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Following the Feb. 6, 2019 robbery and shooting, law enforcement was able to piece together the gunman’s identity by reviewing social media posts and obtaining warrants for Facebook accounts and other electronic information.

Sam was arrested on May 15, 2019.

In asking for the 15-year sentence, prosecutors noted the suffering of the victim in this case.

“He is no longer self-sufficient and is forced to rely on family to assist with his basic needs. … He is in constant and severe pain. The pain medication impacts his memory and focus, making it hard to participate in classes or perform even the most routine tasks,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

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