3 Men Are Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing a Washington Family Over Drugs and Money

Three men were found guilty of killing a family in Washington state in 2017. The reason for the murder was believed to be drugs and money. They have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Hull sentenced Danie Kelly Jr., who is 45 years old, Robert Watson III, who is 52 years old, and Johnny Watson, who is 50 years old. This happened after the victims’ family members spoke in court, as reported by the Kitsap Sun.

Each man received four life sentences, one for each charge of first-degree murder. Each of them received additional prison time because they were convicted of attempted murder and had firearms with them. In April, a jury found them guilty.

On January 27, 2017, a tragic incident occurred in a home located on the Kitsap Peninsula, west of Seattle. Three individuals were found dead in the burned house. The victims were identified as Christale Careaga, aged 37, and two teenagers named Hunter Schaap and Johnathon Higgins, both aged 16. John Careaga, who was 43 years old, was found dead in a burned truck at a tree farm.

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The Careagas were the owners of a Mexican restaurant in Bremerton that was doing well. According to court documents, detectives stated that John Careaga would regularly bring cocaine from California to sell in the local area.

According to authorities, a close friend of his started selling cocaine to Robert Watson, who detectives identified as a leader in a local chapter of the Bandidos motorcycle club. Investigators have stated that the killings were not connected to the club.

Careaga’s friend eventually stopped selling drugs. The next time Careaga went to California to get drugs, Robert Watson also went there shortly after. The investigators say that the conversation between the two became more intense until the day of the homicides.

John Careaga’s lawyer informed the authorities that Careaga had hidden a large amount of money under his house, but the money was never discovered. Based on the court records, detectives found that over $300,000 was put into Robert Watson’s accounts in 2017. They also discovered several cash deposits where the source couldn’t be identified.

Kelly was connected to the Bandidos as a “hang-around” and used to be a close friend of Careaga before they had a falling out, according to detectives. A person who lived near the Careagas heard gunshots at their house on the day of the murders. They saw John Careaga’s truck driving away quickly, with Kelly driving and another car following closely behind.

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During the trial, the defense attorneys tried to create uncertainty about the timeline and the cellphone towers that were used to track the movements of the three individuals. They also argued that there was no evidence to support the claim that anything was stolen from the Careaga home.

Family members of the victims spoke in court about the suffering that the blended family has experienced since the deaths.

John Careaga was known as a caring father and uncle who would spend time with the nine children who depended on him. Crystal Careaga was known for being friendly and having a positive influence on others. Johnathon Higgins was described as a kind and gentle person. Hunter Schaap was recognized for his bravery, especially when he called 911 to report intruders at his family’s home on the night of the murders.

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