Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of Earl Marcello Caldwell girlfriend Tiarra Williams.
A Des Moines man who fired a pistol into a crowd two years ago, killing one and wounding another, is pleading guilty in a deal that will keep him from a life sentence in prison.
Michael Lyke Jr., 21, was charged with murder, attempted murder and intimidation after the June 2019 shooting, in which he opened fire from the car he was driving into a group of people in the 1700 block of 22nd Street. Earl Marcello Caldwell, 41, was fatally injured, and a second man, Littleton Clark, was treated for a “severe” gunshot wound, police said in charging documents afterward.
Lyke was scheduled for trial in April, but on Feb. 12 the court agreed to accept a plea deal filed earlier that week. He will plead guilty on the intimidation charge, but instead of the murder charges, Lyke will plead guilty to lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and willful injury.
Both sides will recommend he serve consecutive 10-year sentences on each conviction for a total sentence of 30 years, with a mandatory minimum of 15 years. He also must pay $150,000 in restitution to Caldwell’s family and heirs. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, he would have faced a mandatory life sentence.
Unlike murder, voluntary manslaughter requires that a killing take place due to a “sudden, violent and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation,” which under Iowa law must consist of more than verbal insults. It is not clear from court documents what provocation led to the shooting, or by whom, but police previously said Lyke was a street gang member and had been involved in previous shootings. Polk County Attorney John Sarcone declined to comment Friday while the case remains pending.
Caldwell left behind a girlfriend of 17 years, Tiarra Williams, and a seven-year-old daughter. Williams told the Register after the shooting that the couple had been together since high school.
“He loved being silly and making jokes and dancing,” Williams said. “He was respectful to everyone. Everyone just loved him.”
Littleton Clark, who survived his injuries, has had his own subsequent trouble with police. He was sentenced in January to 25 years in prison for a separate shooting in April 2020.
William Morris covers courts for the Des Moines Register. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, 715-573-8166 or on Twitter at @DMRMorris.