State v. James Taafulisia, State v. Jerome Taafulisia
Arraignment in Fatal Shooting at Homeless Encampment: Arraignment was held this morning for two of the three teenage brothers charged in connection with the fatal shooting at a homeless encampment near I-5 in the Beacon Hill area. The three suspects, ages 13, 16, and 17, are each charged with two counts of Murder in the First Degree and three counts of Assault in the First Degree, with firearm sentencing enhancements, for the January 26 shooting that left a man and a woman dead and injured three other individuals. The defendants allegedly went to the homeless encampment, which is also referred to as “the Jungle,” intending to steal drugs and money.
The two older juveniles were arraigned and pled not guilty. A case setting hearing is scheduled for February 29 at 1 p.m. in courtroom GA of the Maleng Regional Justice Center. They are charged as adults under Washington State's automatic adult jurisdiction law which allows for prosecution in adult court for 16 and 17-year-olds who are accused of serious, violent offenses. The 13-year-old was arraigned in Juvenile Court on February 5 and pled not guilty.
If convicted as charged, the 16 and 17-year-old defendants face a sentence range of 90 to 113 years in prison. The sentence ranges include 25 years of firearm enhancements. Because of a change in state law in 2014, juveniles charged as adults are eligible to have their sentences reviewed by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board after serving 20 years in prison. The 13-year-old could face incarceration up to his 21st birthday if convicted as charged in Juvenile Court.