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A man accused of a violent home invasion robbery in 2011, where an Illahee man was struck with an ax and later died, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to 17 ? years in prison.

Daniel Scott Farley, 37, was serving a prison sentence in Nevada for assault with a deadly weapon when he was brought back to Kitsap County in December 2019 to face charges related to the death of William "Bill" Thomas Johnston, 61.

Prosecutors had hesitated to charge Farley with murder, as Johnston was known to be in poor health before he was attacked. Medical experts found Johnston died as a result of homicide?but prosecutors were unsure if they could prove the injuries Farley was accused of causing directly led to Johnston's death about five months after the robbery.

In pleading guilty to first-degree robbery and first-degree manslaughter, Farley took responsibility for Johnston’s death and cooperated with Kitsap County sheriff's detectives who continue to investigate the case, said Deputy Prosecutor Tim Lewis.

Lewis said meth played a large role in the crime and had the case gone to trial, prosecutors would have strongly considered adding a murder charge to the counts Farley would face.

“This is one of those cases where but for meth abuse, I don’t think he commits this crime,” Lewis said, adding: “I could be wrong.”

After the robbery at Johnston's residence, Farley and others are believed to have taken Johnston's prized coin collection?to a pawn shop in Tacoma. After selling some of the coins, the group?took that money to buy more meth, Lewis said.

Lewis said the?paranoia brought on by their meth use, along with sleep deprivation, set upon the group and they buried the remaining valuables in a wooded area in South Kitsap. Because of their impairment, however, they were apparently unable to locate the spot to retrieve the coins.?

Lewis said in July 2016?a homeowner digging a trench for a cable wire came upon a duffel bag in which he found the remaining coins from Johnston’s collection, along Johnston’s handgun, and turned them over to detectives.

Johnston was known to help those down on their luck and would allow people to stay on his property and use his facilities. He was proud of his coin collection, valued at $50,000, and would show it to people.

When Johnston regained consciousness and called police, he told them he did not recognize the two men who had attacked him, but a source told investigators that a woman who had stayed with Johnston knew about the coin collection and pressured Farley into doing her "dirty work," according to documents.

Lewis said Farley apologized when was sentenced on April 7 by Kitsap Superior Court Judge Kevin Hull.?

Lewis said Farley provided both investigators and Johnston's loved ones valuable information in his statement, something Lewis said Johnston's survivors were owed.

“Even if we can’t prove the case against other individuals, I think the victim’s family is entitled to the truth,” Lewis said. “We thought we knew what happened, but you never know for sure.”

Farley had said he didn’t believe Johnston would be home on Sept.?28, 2011, when he and accomplices entered Johnston’s house to steal the coin collection, Lewis said.

“At the time I entered Mr. Johnston’s home I was armed with an ax,” Farley wrote in his statement of guilt. “I encountered Mr. Johnston inside his home and struck him multiple times with the blunt end of the ax, including on his head, to subdue him.”

Johnston died on Feb.?23, 2012.

Farley is currently eligible for parole for his conviction in Nevada. Lewis said he expects Farley will return to Nevada then be transferred back to Washington state to serve the remainder of his 210-month sentence.

Johnston was a Navy veteran, owned a concrete business and in 2002 ran for Kitsap County sheriff, winning about 15% of the vote against former Sheriff Steve Boyer.

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