Widow of Murdered Philly Cheesesteak Owner Sues State

Degene "Safie" Dashasa's friends say he was the embodiment of the American dream. A decade after coming over from Ethiopia, Safie (pictured at right) had worked his way up from employee to proud owner of a Philadelphia Cheese Steak restaurant in the Central District. He was a short time away from bringing his new bride home to the states when he was killed. Now Safie's widow is suing the state, claiming the man who murdered her husband went unsupervised by the department tasked with watching him.

That man, Rey Alberto Davis-Bell, has already been sentenced to 123 years in prison for killing Safie and another man, an innocent bystander he targeted during the January 30, 2008 shooting spree.

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Rey Alberto Davis-Bell apparently felt that a shopkeeper trying to keep him from selling drugs was "doing him dirty."
Davis-Bell was only 23 at the time of the murder. But he'd already racked up an extensive criminal history, including charges for assault and harassment.

Davis-Bell was among a group of men known to hang around Safie's sandwich shop, asking for water and trying to sell drugs to his customers. Because drug-dealing tends to be bad for business, Safie had frequent confrontations with Davis-Bell, something that would eventually come back to haunt him.

According to a lawsuit obtained by the P-I, attorneys for Safie's widow claim that Davis-Bell told a court-appointed psychiatrist that "one day I'll get even with everybody who has done me dirty." This, apparently, included hard-working men just trying to keep their stores shithead-free.

Despite his bravado, the lawsuit claims that the Department of Corrections only made Davis-Bell check in on occasion. Even as it classified him a high-risk for re-offending.

This lax enforcement, say lawyers for Safie's widow, allowed Davis-Bell to meet up with old associates, get a gun and ammunition and go on a shooting spree that also targeted the West Seattle apartment of an ex-girlfriend.

"I was hurt a lot and I don't have nothing left for me," said Safie's widow through an interpreter to a King County judge at Davis-Bell's sentencing. "I never suspected my life to be this way."

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