The 19-year-old accused of raping and murdering a 2-year-old McCleary boy pleaded guilty as charged in Pierce County Superior Court Monday. He now faces 22 years to life in prison.
Jake J. Musga of Tacoma pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree rape of a child in the death of his girlfriend’s son, Chayson Colley-Jones. The boy was bruised “head to toe,” according to prosecutors, and an autopsy showed specific fatal blows to his head and torso. The child also suffered significant internal and external injuries consistent with penetration by an object.
Prosecutors will request a sentence of 60 years to life.
“Nothing shocks the conscience more than the murder of a child,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “We are asking the court for the functional equivalent of a life-sentence.”
As part of his plea, Musga admitted he killed the boy because “he was mad the child had urinated on him,” according to a press release. Musga also agreed his crimes warranted an exceptional sentence.
The judge will set a minimum sentence, but whether Musga is ever released from prison will depend on the decision of the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board. First-degree child rape is a strike offense under Washington’s two-strikes law for certain sex crimes; another similar crime would result in a mandatory life sentence.
Once Musga serves the minimum sentence set by the judge, the sentence review board will review his case and decide whether he can be safely released. If he isn’t, the board will review his case at least every two years. Life is the maximum sentence for Class A felonies.
Musga often cared for Colley-Jones while the child’s mother, Laura Colley, worked, according to court papers. On March 29, Musga was left alone with the child when Colley left to celebrate her birthday in McCleary.
At about 4 a.m. March 30, a witness called 911 to report a man was in the lobby of a Tacoma apartment complex, holding a badly bruised young boy who was not breathing, court documents state.
Medical staff who examined the boy noted his condition was “catastrophically bad” and he showed no significant sign of brain activity.
A medical examiner said the injuries were too numerous to count, and consistent with abuse. The child also had a blood alcohol content of 0.12.
His maternal grandparents are Cathy and Troy Colley of McCleary. Cathy Colley was active in local Republican politics for many years and Troy Colley was once director of the Coastal Community Action Program based in Aberdeen. His other grandparents also have East County ties. They are Ron and Bobbye Jones and Darlene Linville.
At a memorial service in Elma April 7, the Colleys told The Vidette they were relying on family, friends and faith to get them through their grief. More than 300 people attended that service.
“It’s like we’re in the eye of a storm and sometimes we step out of that storm and we grieve,” Cathy Colley said. “What I feel like now is that the eye is expanding and I’m bringing people into that eye — my friends — and they’re feeling with me that it’s going to be OK and it is OK. … The truth is this momma loved her baby with all of her heart, that none of us saw any of this coming, none of us saw any red flags. The Jake that we knew was a wonderful man that loves Chayson. We just don’t know what happened.”
The boy’s father, Brannon Jones, also has ties to Elma. That side of the family held its own services.
Musga’s sentencing is set for Nov. 21 in Pierce County.