TACOMA, WA – Today Barry Massey, 40, received a new sentence of 25 years to life for the 1987 murder of Paul Wang. Massey, who was 13 at the time of the murder, was charged as an adult with aggravated murder in the first degree. A jury convicted him, and he received a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Massey was recently granted a hearing to be re-sentenced as the result of a 2012 United States Supreme Court decision, Miller v. Alabama, which held that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles were unconstitutional.
On Jan. 10, 1987, after a two-day stakeout, Massey and his co-defendant, Michael Harris, entered the Steilacoom Marina store where the victim worked. Massey shot the victim in the chest and head before the pair stole some merchandise and fled. A short time later, they returned to the store to steal more items. They saw the victim was still alive, so Massey stabbed him seven times with a knife. When police arrived, the knife was still in the victim’s neck. Massey and Harris were arrested within 30 minutes of the murder. They gave full confessions, and told detectives they discarded the masks they brought to the marina because they were “just going to shoot the dude.” In his confession, Massey said he shot the victim because Harris was “scared and he didn’t want to do it.”
The U. S. Supreme Court decision determined that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles were considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” and that they violate the Eighth Amendment. In response to the ruling, the Washington State Legislature created a law which requires defendants under 16-years-old to be considered for parole after serving 25 years.
“This new sentence is required by the new law,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
The decision of whether or not to release the defendant will be made by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board. The members are appointed by the Governor.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office