Seems gets 10 years in death of local man

A man convicted of manslaughter in the June stabbing death of an 18-year-old man in Phoenix was sentenced Tuesday morning to 10 years in prison.

Michael Joseph-Gregory Seems, 25, caused 18-year-old Teddy Sanchez's death with a single thrust of a blade that pierced the victim's heart and lung following a verbal altercation at Coleman Creek Estates on Fern Valley Road on June 13.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack sentenced Seems to a decade behind bars — the mandatory Measure 11 sentence for first-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutor Jeremy Markiewicz read a multi-page letter from Sanchez's parents into the record. The parents expressed disappointment the jury had not found Seems guilty of murder. They said Seems' sentence was too short, and they excoriated him as "a heartless child of the devil" who killed their son "as if he were killing an animal."

Sanchez's parents said they wished they had died instead of their son. They questioned the jury's decision to find Seems guilty of the lesser manslaughter charge, rather than the original charge of first-degree murder. Sanchez leaves behind a young son and a fiancee, they said.

Sanchez's older brother, Pedro Rodriguez, said his brother had a "big heart" and was the glue that held his family together.

"We're not the same," Rodriguez said. "We're just like a little broken family."

Seems apologized to the Sanchez family, saying it was never his intention to strike a killing blow that evening.

"I hope that God will forgive my soul," Seems said, adding that he also hoped, in time, the Sanchez family might forgive him, as well.

Seems' attorney, Bob Abel, had described Sanchez as an "aggressive and hot-headed known gang member." Abel said his client stabbed the victim after Sanchez stuck his hand in his pocket while approaching Seems.

Dr. James Olson, deputy state medical examiner, testified during the multi-day trial that Seems' knife entered through Sanchez's ribs, cutting the inside edge of his left lung and the right pumping chamber of his heart. Sanchez died of blood loss and pressure on his heart caused by the stab wound.

Olson also testified Sanchez had alcohol and methamphetamine in his blood at the time of death.

Seems ran away immediately after stabbing Sanchez and eluded police for the next three days. Jurors watched a three-hour video of Seems in which he initially denied stabbing Sanchez. After several hours of interrogation he admitted he'd stabbed Sanchez, but maintained it was in self defense.

Barnack said the jury had sent a message that gang violence will not be tolerated in Jackson County.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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