Teen pleads guilty to Ballard murder

The teenager accused of killing a Ballard convenience store worker in July pleaded guilty to first degree murder.

The Seattle Times reports that 17-year-old Elijah Hall entered his plea at a court hearing and now faces up to 25 years in prison. Hall was arrested (photo above) one day after the murder at a home just blocks away from the Pit Stop at 15th Ave NW & NW 58th St, where 28-year-old Manish Melwani was killed. The crime was captured on security video, and charging papers say Hall’s fingerprints were found at the crime scene.

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33 thoughts to “Teen pleads guilty to Ballard murder”

  1. He'll likely get out earlier than that. It says he'll be sentenced UP TO 25 years. And aren't you eligible for parole after you've served 1/3 of your sentence or something? Not that it's automatically granted. Obviously I am no attorney but no one seems to serve their full sentence.

  2. Elijah Hall … What's this “kid's” deal? Is he mentally ill? A wannabe ganster dirtbag? Did he go to Ballard high?

    Seem very soft that he could be out in 10 years, but I don't think you can equate him to the random cop killer. Too bad there is not a solution other than death or lifetime incarceration — some way that he loses all of his freedom AND helps support the family of the man he killed for the rest of his life.

  3. WHAT! With all due respect to the comment on the comparison of a Death Penalty to a Life Sentance . Sir, a Premeditated Intentional Assisination of a public servant (who gave his life to defend the public)- Police Officer, by a middle aged man, is not the same crime as thoughtless, stupid/juvinille slaying of a convience store worker, during a botched robbery. Both lives just as valuable, but it's the nature and intent of the crime that differs. It was also the Police who arrested and caught the one who killed the convient store worker. Pretty dangerous job protecting me and you, hey? Were you there risking your life in apprehending this punk?
    Both are horrible crimes , but just their definintions speak volumes. 25 years however, is still too short of a sentance. Tougher laws for juvinilles!!!!

  4. Would it make you happier if he was subjected to torture for the next 25 years? What about burglars, pot dealers, drunk drivers, shoplifters, and deadbeat dads? Should we torture them too?
    This brings up the question of what the point of prison really is. Is it punishment that should be so harsh that it would be a deterrent? Or should it be a way to remove the dangerous elements from society for our safety in the hopes that they can be rehabilitated and brought back in as productive members?
    I'm in no way saying that Elijah Hall should just be given a slap on the wrist and told to not do it again. He needs the punishment for his actions, the deterrent, and hopefully some effort towards making him a better person after his release. What good would it do us to just create and release an angrier victim of abuse in 10 years, or even after the full 25? I'm hopefully still going to be around then and I'd rather run into a remorseful rehabilitated Elijah Hall on the street than an angry, sodomized, vengeful person looking to settle the score.

  5. It goes to intent. Even though Elijah Hall went into the store with a loaded gun, his intent was only to get money. Monfort planned for weeks to kill.
    There's another couple things to consider in the Hall case, he's 17 and even when he was robbing the store he started out doing so while the clerk was in the backroom. Manesh Melawi came out and tried to stop Elijah Hall which is when he was shot.
    A good lawyer could have dragged it out in court that Hall was defending himself, though defending himself in the commission of a crime. I'm not a lawyer, but I'd imagine that it would complicate things a bit.

  6. I totally understand what you are articulating here, and on the other-hand dead is dead. Both deaths were fundamentally unjust. I'm sure the clerk's family is suffering just as much as the cop's family.

    It's the classic ethical dilemma — does the result of an act determine its value, or does the intent behind it determine whether or not the act was moral/immoral (and to what extent)?

    We do have to think about intent, because if we don't many penalties wouldn't pass the common sense sniff test. And on the otherhand we can't be overly romanced by intent — because we know why something happened doesn't mean that results don't matter or that the involved party is not to be held fully accountable for making bad decisions.

  7. “It goes to intent. Even though Elijah Hall went into the store with a loaded gun, his intent was only to get money.”

    Intent isn 't mentioned in the legal definition.
    First degree murder = committed with premeditation or during the course of a serious crime (like robbery)
    By pleading guilty he apparently escaped the charge of aggravated first degree murder with which he could have been charged according to WA State law:
    (11) The murder was committed in the course of, in furtherance of, or in immediate flight from one of the following crimes:
    (a) Robbery in the first or second degree;

    At least he isn't getting out of Juvenile Detention when he turns 21. But no doubt was a cold blooded killing. The Supreme Court already ruled that minors cannot recieve the death penalty. There are now cases challenging giving minors life without parole.

    Yes, he went to Ballard High School.

  8. Very good points. If you shift your perspective a bit from pure punishment to rehabilitation it becomes a lot more clear. The person who plans for weeks to kill is less likely to be rehabilitated than a 17 year old who pulled out a gun after trying to open the register.
    The question is what do you do with the person after they commit the crime? What's appropriate? If we look only at the result of the action and take it to the extreme, then the CEOs and even the stockholders of the tobacco companies could be sentenced to death for the millions of lung cancer deaths that they caused and profited from.

  9. Not to get into parsing and minutia, but in my post above you can pretty much replace intent with premeditation and it would make the same point. Elijah Hall didn't plan ahead of time to assassinate someone like Monfort did, but he did make a conscious decision to put bullets in a gun and bring it into the store to commit a crime. He may have thought to himself that he was just going to get some money, and he even claimed he was just trying to shoot Melawi in the leg so he could get away, but by loading the gun he opened the door to killing someone. He's still responsible for that decision and should be punished accordingly.

  10. true enough — rehabilitation would be the best result in this bad situation. If only it could be guaranteed.

    If it could be administered with a large measure of punishment too, all the better in my mind — the victims suffer, so too should the victimizer.

  11. The matter of who was shot does come into play here. One life isn't more valuable than another in this case-hopefully we agree on that. But the fact that one was a working man and the other was a cop makes a huge difference. Punishments are harsher for cop killers. A person that kills a cop is judged to be more dangerous to society. Especially when it was premeditated and multiple attempts were made to kill officers. It is the ultimate statement against authority and society. Society depends upon the fact that cops are viewed differently by criminals. That criminals are less likely to shoot a cop for all of the intangible reasons, that they won't often cross that invisible line and target a cop. If cop killers were treated the same as other murderers, the job would become much more dangerous than it already is. And the streets would be much more dangerous.

  12. Short of a time machine, how do you make it all better? I'd love for any process involving people to have a guarantee, other than the guarantee that you can never be sure what someone will do.
    I guess we just have to do the best we can and work for the least bad outcome for the future.

  13. Dead is dead? Do you REALLY believe that? Think before you answer that.

    I'd love for all crimes that result in a death to be treated the same regardless of intent. Fact is MOST of the people who violently kill people in this country do little to no jail time. The reason is instead of using a gun they use a car and somehow that makes it all OK. They say it was an “accident” and the police and DA let them off the hook. Never mind that an accident is something unavoidable and almost all traffic deaths are easily avoided. We still look the other way when people kill with cars. You say dead is dead but I doubt you actually believe that. Most people don't seem to. 25 years is a lot of prison time – certainly more than that rabbi in west Seattle got for killing someone (and he had far more priors than this knucklehead!)

    For better or for worse, intent plays a HUGE part in what (if any) punishment is handed. If you kill someone with a car without intending to you get no punishment. Kill someone with a gun when you didn't intend to and you get 25 years. Kill someone with a gun in a deliberate assassination you get life or the death penalty. Is that fair? Hard to say. If it was my family member who killed I wouldn't care if the person meant to do it or not, I'd still want them behind bars for many, many years.

    As for the notion the prisons exist to rehabilitate people, all I can say is anyone who believes that is fooling themselves. Most prisons do little in the way of helping convicts develop skills they can use to stay straight once they're released. For some strange reason we enjoy spending more money on prisons than on education.

  14. I agree, though age can be a factor too. Either way, he took a loaded gun into a robbery and killed someone. 25 years seems small.

  15. dead is dead is a tautology. It is logically impossible to not believe it, same with the sun is the sun, up is up, down is down.

    It also doesn't carry any specific significant meaning because it is a self-defining statement. I thought it was pretty clear what I meant from the surrounding context, but:

    You seems to take “death is death” to mean that all deaths resulting from illegal actions are equal and should so be treated equally by the law when it comes time for sentencing. There are cases, though, where you surely couldn't in good conscience and with rationality apply this absolute.

    I meant that results ought not be totally supplanted by causal explanations (ie motive). People can be seduced by causations — they are compelling (largely because causations are narrative in form) and it is easy to convolute knowing why something happened with to one extent or another justifying it.

    But no Seaspider, I did not intend your absolutist interpretation (and this is not to say that the tautology in question is not by nature absolute).

    I definitely sympathize though — if you travel you'll find that cultures vary in how they either call something an accident or a negligence. In Argentina people drive crazily and run pedestrians down in droves. They call it unaccountable accidents, we might call it negligent if they were drinking too, in Scandinavia that behavior would be seen as anti-social and something like homicide.

    In the case of this murdering 17 year old — though he is young, and though the clerk chose to fight him, and though he was only shooting for the legs — he walked into a shop with a mask and a gun ready to pull the trigger and killed someone.

    We agree that he should be accountable for that result. But how much? I'd say not a whole lot less than the cop killer, but less.

  16. yeah premeditation and intent basically mean the same thing in this context. Your argument is actually just a semantic slippage Squeaky.

  17. “As for the notion the prisons exist to rehabilitate people, all I can say is anyone who believes that is fooling themselves”

    I'm not fooling myself as I know that prison is there for a threefold purpose: Punishment, safety of society, and hopefully rehabilitation. I know that in our society the first two take precedence and that's understandable but if we put just a little more effort into rehabilitation we might be able to cut down on the number of people making their way back in. If we completely remove any effort at rehabilitation (which from my understanding is the situation we're in now with budget cuts) then we're doing little more than punting the problem down the line.

  18. 25 years just doesn't seem like an even trade for a man's life, but what do I know, right? Let's at least hope he comes out a better man than he was when he went in.

  19. “hopefully some effort towards making him a better person after his release”

    help me understand how anyone that kills someone in cold blood tends to come out a better person.

    What about burglars, pot dealers, drunk drivers, shoplifters, and deadbeat dads

    how can you lump these people in the same category as a murderer? i think these people have a better probability of rehab than elijah. unless they are of course habitual criminals. then the rehab probability is gone.

  20. rehab is a two way street and throwing money away when only one in the equation is trying is money wasted. sure, let's offer some tough love and try to get through to those that truly want to change, the others, lock 'em up and throw away the key.

  21. thank you nora. you take a loaded gun to any premeditated crime, you're going to run the risk of using it. plain and simple. leave the gun at home next time.

  22. …and how do you tell which is which? If you have no faith in rehabilitation then the only solution is to lock everyone up forever. Which though it sounds nice, is very expensive and brings up the question of where to draw the line…violent criminals? graffiti? drug users?

  23. Elijah Hall. I went to school with him for about 6 years, kindergarten through fourth grade. He was obviously troubled and moved to a different school at that point. His dad was a hard-ass and Elijah didn't have the best family life. He was nice though, and this is something that I obviously would never expect from a childhood friend.

    Regarding your “too bad there is not a solution other than death or a lifetime incarceration” bit, I think that you're wrong. He's a kid. A kid who had a tough time growing up and made a mistake. And although it's an atrocious mistake, he will pay his time and will hopefully become a fully functioning and contributing member of society.

    All in all, don't be so harsh. Elijah could have been a member of your family, a friend's child or neighbor.

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