King County prosecutors contend the men planned to take a 22-year-old woman to Las Vegas and force her to work as a prostitute, or kill her if she refused to cooperate. The young woman apparently ended up at a home with one of the men - both of whom were strangers to her - after blacking out at a Pioneer Square bar the night before.
The pair's alleged victim suffered a severe head injury after diving from a speeding car to escape them, according to charging documents.
Defendant Randy L. Stevens didn't have to risk anything to get out of jail following his arrest earlier this week. Over strenuous objections from prosecutors, King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle on Wednesday freed Stevens without requiring that he even post bond.
Stevens and co-defendant Tariq S. Shabazz were charged in mid-December following allegations that they kidnapped and robbed the woman, then conspired to take her to Las Vegas to work as a prostitute. According to charging documents, the men discussed killing the woman, and might have done so had she not escaped.
While prosecutors asked that Stevens at least be made to put up bond money to ensure his return to court, Doyle ordered him freed without posting bail to participate in work release. Court documents indicate Stevens isn't expected to show up to work until mid-January, but was released immediately.
Stevens, who faces at least 7 1/2 years in prison if convicted as charged, was previously convicted of violating a protection order. Prosecutors claim he's likely to ignore any new court orders and accost the victim again.
Prosecutors had asked that Stevens be held on $500,000 bail, which would have required him to put up $50,000 before he could be released from jail.
"The Prosecutor's Office had serious concerns for the safety of the community and the victim in this case," said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. "We opposed at the time and continue to oppose defendant Stevens' release to work release."
Goodhew said prosecutors will ask the court to reconsider Doyle's decision. Stevens' public defender did not return a request for comment Thursday.
Shabazz, meanwhile, remains at large. A $500,000 warrant for the 28-year-old Hayward, Calif., resident's arrest has been issued.
Outlining the allegations against both men, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor claimed in court documents that Shabazz and Stevens kidnapped the woman, stole her belongings and attempted to get copies of her house keys the day both met her.
"These actions were designed to isolate the victim and force her into prostitution ..." said Spoor, noting that both men were strangers to the woman prior to her abduction. "The defendants discussed whether to kill the victim when she was not fully cooperating and scared her to the point that she dove from a moving vehicle to escape them."
That Nov. 19 escape left the woman with a serious head injury. Nearly a month passed before Seattle police were able to identify Shabazz and Stevens as the woman's assailants.
The night before her kidnapping, the woman and several friends were drinking at Tiki Bob's Cantina, a popular Pioneer Square nightclub. Entering the bar, she told police, was the last thing she remembered that night.
The woman woke the following morning on the floor of a house in the 4200 block of South Kenyon Street and was greeted by a man who identified himself as "Reek," a Seattle Police detective assigned to the vice and high-risk victims unit said in charging documents. "Reek" was subsequently identified by police as Shabazz.
Having no idea how she got to the home from Tiki Bob's, the woman realized her cell phone was missing. Shabazz is alleged to have told the young woman he had the phone but refused to return it.
Shabazz then forced the woman into a tan SUV driven by an associate of his, a woman uncharged in the current case, the detective continued. The pair then drove the woman to her car, but refused to stop or release her.
During the drive, Shabazz began suggesting the woman work as a prostitute for him, the detective continued.
"Shabazz told (her) that she was probably a 'good ho,'" the detective told the court.
"Shabazz then told (her) that he was going to have her work for him to 'earn his money' and told her 'we're gonna take you to Vegas,'" the detective continued.
Shabazz and his associate drove the woman to a 7-Eleven near Seattle Pacific University in the Queen Anne neighborhood when they picked up Stevens. Stevens and Shabazz sat on each side of the woman, flanking her in the middle of the SUV's rear seat.
Stevens took the woman's purse and began rummaging through it, removing her identification, keys and cash, the detective told the court. Stevens is alleged to have then forced the woman to call her bank to confirm the amount of money in her bank account.
Driving to a locksmith to duplicate the woman's keys, the men became concerned about how much the woman had learned about their operation, the detective continued. Investigators suspect the car's driver - a woman associated with the men - was working as a prostitute for one or both of them.
Stevens then pulled a knife and threatened the woman, according to her account of events.
"We need to start getting some answers right now or we're gonna find a solution and put you under the ground," Stevens told the young woman, according to charging documents.
The woman became increasingly fearful as Shabazz and Stevens continued discussing killing her.
"What are we going to do with her?" Stevens asked at one point, according to charging documents.
"I told her that I would let her live," Shabazz responded.
"No, she knows too much," Stevens is alleged to have replied.
The driver then dropped Stevens off near the south end of Lake Union. Concerned Shabazz would kill her, the woman dove from the moving vehicle, striking her head on the pavement.
Shabazz and the driver are alleged to have fled from the area. The woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where she remained in critical condition for several weeks.
Investigators' statements to the court do not detail how police came to identify Shabazz or Stevens as the woman's assailants. Both men were charged on Dec. 19; the allegations were not immediately publicized because both men remained at large and were likely unaware of the investigation.
Shabazz and Stevens each have been charged with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery and attempted second-degree human trafficking.