LUBBOCK, Texas — David Lecarl Ruth, 21, accepted a plea deal for tampering with evidence Tuesday, and in exchange was no longer charged with murder. As part of the deal, Ruth agreed to a 5-year prison sentence.

Police arrested Ruth, age 19 at the time, for the murder of Darrean Lee Nichols, 17, on April 24, 2020 – less than a full day after a shooting in the 100 block of Avenue M.

Nichols and a woman, age 18, were in an altercation with Ruth. Prosecutor Barron Slack said the dispute was over a drug deal. Slack specifically mentioned marijuana.

“Through his attorneys, [he] articulated a self-defense claim,” Slack said. “Investigators are aware of the possibility of this.”

“His claim is that he was being robbed at gunpoint, which would under Texas law grant somebody the ability to use deadly force at that time,” Slack said.

“If I can’t disprove his self-defense claim beyond all reasonable doubt, I should not prevail in court,” Slack explained. “Because it is plausible and I can’t disprove it, then I’m dismissing the case.”

So, why was there a tampering case?

“Both sides, in my view, hid weapons,” Slack said.

“The people in the vehicle where Mr. Nichols was dying and died, did not go straight to the hospital,” Slack said.

Police previously said Nichols and his companion went to a home in the 1700 block of East 1st Place. Slack said they hid a gun and then lied to police. Nichols was later pronounced dead at University Medical Center.

“There’s just not a credible enough witness, and not a sufficient answer among the physical evidence for a jury to come in and say, ‘Somebody is going to prison for murder,’” Slack said.

Online jail records indicated Ruth had 936 days (more than 2-and-a-half years) of credit for time already served.