Crime

He was accused of killing a Tacoma car prowler. Now he’ll be sentenced for her death.

James Reha mouths "love you" to family after being arraigned on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm Nov. 23 in Pierce County Superior Court.
James Reha mouths "love you" to family after being arraigned on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm Nov. 23 in Pierce County Superior Court. phaley@thenewstribune.com

A man who killed a woman he found prowling his car near Sixth Avenue in Tacoma pleaded guilty Wednesday.

James Michael Reha, 29, is to be sentenced Oct. 20 for second-degree manslaughter.

As part of negotiations, the defense and prosecution plan to recommend a sentence of 10 years for the death of 23-year-old Morgan Deines.

That’s the maximum allowed, and is above Reha’s standard sentencing range.

He initially was charged with second-degree murder, and entered what’s known as a Newton plea to the lesser charge. That means he maintains his innocence, but thinks he’d likely be convicted at trial.

Charging papers give this account of what happened:

Reha fatally shot Deines in the back of the head Nov. 11 after she and a friend found Reha asleep as they were prowling cars by North Seventh and Junett streets.

They took his cellphone, and started to take speakers from his trunk, when Reha woke up. As Reha reached for something they thought was a gun, Deines got in her SUV to drive away and her friend ran.

That’s when the friend heard gun shots. Deines was hit, and her SUV kept going for about a block, until it hit a car and stopped.

Reha’s prior convictions include burglary, second-degree theft and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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