A 24-year-old Tacoma man could go to prison for 33 years in connection with a fiery truck crash that killed his girlfriend.
In a bench trial earlier this month, a judge found the man guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
A bench trial is a type of trial in which there is no jury and the judge must determine both questions of law and questions of fact.
Questions of law are always decided by a judge, not a jury and include:
- Issues regarding the application or interpretation of a law.
- Issues regarding what the relevant law is. (If there are two or more mutually exclusive laws, a judge determines which law is relevant.)
- Issues of fact that have been reserved for judges, not juries, to resolve.
For questions of fact at a bench trial, a judge weighs the strength of evidence and credibility of witnesses.
In the case of the Tacoma man, the judge will sentence him Oct. 7. Under Washington sentencing guidelines, the judge can send the man to prison for between 24 and 33 years for the May 2015 crash.
The 24-year-old driver, his girlfriend and a 21-year-old man were in a pickup they stole from an apartment complex after attacking the truck's owner. They were fleeing from police when the driver lost control and slammed into a utility pole. The girlfriend died from her injuries. The other man plead guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The driver had previously entered guilty pleas to vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, second-degree assault and attempting to elude police.
A person is guilty of robbery in the first degree if he or she commits a robbery within and against a financial institution, or if, in the commission of a robbery or of flight therefrom, he or she:
- Is armed with a deadly weapon; or
- Displays what appears to be a firearm or other deadly weapon; or
- Inflicts bodily injury; or
A person is guilty of murder in the second degree when they intend to cause a death, but it is not premeditated. It is also second-degree murder if the person commits or attempts to commit a felony or is fleeing from a crime and he or she causes a death.
Both offenses are Class A felonies, punishable by up to life in prison, or a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, everyone is entitled to the best defense available. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.