Correction: This story previously had attached a photograph of a suspect identified as Pierre Jennings wanted in connection with the May 10 incident. The man in the photo was a different Pierre Jennings.
A 23-year-old man faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly causing a crash that killed his girlfriend as he fled Tacoma police in a stolen pickup earlier this year.
Anthony Hem also is charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, attempting to elude police and felony hit-and-run.
Pierce County prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for Hem, who has been hospitalized with serious leg injuries since the May 10 wreck that killed Marisa Richie, 26 of Tacoma, and hurt another passenger, Pierre Jennings, 20.
Deputy prosecutor Tim Jones is pursuing the murder charge under the state’s so-called “felony murder” statute. Under that law, a person can be charged with murder if, while committing a felony crime, he or she causes the death of another person.
In this case, Jones alleges Hem was committing the felony of eluding police when Richie died.
Jones, the county’s lead prosecutor for felony vehicular cases, said Wednesday he’s filed at least four charges of murder in fatal crashes over the past eight years, winning a murder conviction in one.
The others ended with convictions for lesser crimes, including manslaughter or vehicular homicide, he said.
The series of events that led to Richie’s death began May 9 in the parking lot of Lakewood apartment complex, according to court records.
Hem, Richie and Jennings were sitting in a car parked there when a resident of the complex asked them to move out of his assigned stall, the records show.
Instead, the three allegedly attacked the man, beating and kicking him, before stealing his 2004 GMC pickup.
Lakewood police issued a bulletin about the attack and theft, and police across Pierce County were on the lookout for Hem and the others that night, the records show.
Just over an hour later, about 1 a.m. May 10, a Tacoma police officer spotted what appeared to be a pickup matching the description of the stolen truck in the 100 block of South 38th Street.
The officer tried to stop the truck, but it sped off.
Not long after, two other Tacoma police officers riding in a single patrol car spied a GMC truck parked in the 1300 block of East 65th Street.
One officer wrote in a report that as they neared the pickup, the driver put the GMC into gear and drove it at the patrol car.
“I quickly accelerated and pulled away from the vehicle,” the officer wrote. “If I had not accelerated, the vehicle would have struck us directly on the driver’s door; and even with accelerating, the vehicle came within inches of striking us.”
The officers gave chase as the truck barreled through the East Side, running stop signs and stop lights and reaching speeds close to 100 miles per hour, court records show.
The pursuit ended near East 64th Street and Waller Road when Hem lost control of the pickup and it slammed into a utility pole, shearing it off at the base.
Officers found the truck on its top with its engine compartment on fire. Hem and Jennings were badly hurt; Richie was dead.
Jennings, now charged with first-degree robbery for his alleged role in the carjacking, later underwent heart surgery at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma to repair a torn aorta.
He walked out of the hospital against doctor’s advice after surgery and remains at large, court records show.