Trial begins for musician, promoter suspected in fatal shooting of soldier outside Tacoma club

Daquan Foster and his wife went out with friends to celebrate that she had just passed an important military exam.

What should have been a night of joyful celebration turned deadly early Oct. 29, 2017, when they were shot leaving a nightclub in the 8400 block of South Hosmer Street in Tacoma.

While his wife survived, 22-year-old Foster died from his injuries.

A trial started this week for two men suspected in the shooting: Marshall Marion Wilson, 36, and Randy Louis Donaldson, 32. Attorneys made their opening statements Tuesday.

Marshall Wilson, defense attorney Thomas Balerud, and Randy Donaldson (left to right) appear in court July 9, 2019. Wilson and Donaldson are accused in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Daquan Foster Oct. 29, 2017 outside a Tacoma nightclub. KATE IIDA

Both men have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree and second-degree assault, and first-degree unlawful gun possession in the case.

Donaldson is a local rap artist and Wilson promotes rap music, The News Tribune reported in 2017. A Facebook page with Wilson’s stage name Hermes Hush showed photos of him with rapper Y-Sic, Donaldson’s stage name.

Deputy prosecutor Robin Sand told jurors that Foster and his wife were at the same nightclub as Wilson and Donaldson the night of the shooting.

Wilson and Donaldson were allegedly showing off like “celebrities,” and “making it rain” with dollar bills, Sand said. They did not interact with Foster in the bar, but there was some sort of confrontation outside as Foster and his wife were leaving.

Wilson allegedly hit Foster in the face, and Foster’s wife stepped in to break up the fight. Wilson fell over and Donaldson showed up with a gun, Sand said.

Foster’s wife allegedly told Donaldson to stop. Then Wilson and Donaldson fired, Sand told the jury, and Foster and his wife were hit by bullets as they ran to their car.

Foster died later at a hospital. He was from New York and had a child. He’d been in the U.S. Army for less than a year and was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, The News Tribune reported in 2017.

Detectives said they found 17 shell casings from two guns outside the club.

They also looked at footage from several different surveillance cameras and used the footage to identify the suspects.

Thomas Balerud, Donaldson’s defense attorney, told the jury that the footage was of such low quality that it could not be used to identify his client.

Paula Olson, Wilson’s defense attorney, and Balerud both questioned the credibility of the state’s witnesses.

The prosecution said Wilson crawled into the back of another car in the parking lot after the shooting and allegedly asked a witness in the vehicle: “It wasn’t my bullet that killed that dude, was it?”

Olson argued that some witnesses were drunk or high at the time of the shooting.

Balerud argued that Foster’s wife first told investigators that there was only one shooter and later said that there were two. He also said she hadn’t been able to identify Donaldson when asked.

Both defense attorneys said there was a lack of forensic evidence linking Wilson and Donaldson to the shooting.

No “DNA, fingerprints, blood, residue (or) guns,” exist to connect them to the crime, Olson told the jury.

She also said Wilson does not remember the night of the shooting, because he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to prior trauma. And she noted that one witness said a man who looked like Wilson tried to protect the witness during the shooting.

The trial is expected to last for at least a month.

Balerud asked the court to ban The News Tribune from reporting on the case until editors redact a previous story he took issue with.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin declined, saying there wasn’t precedent to do so.