CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Suspect in hit-run death of Tommy Joe Garrett released, not charged

(Also published on our partner site West Seattle Blog)

(Victim’s photo, as displayed at April 27 vigil)

Monday was the charging deadline for the 37-year-old man arrested in Puyallup last week on suspicion he was the hit-run driver who killed 81-year-old Tommy Joe Garrett at 15th/Roxbury last month. Monday night, after the online court file showed no sign of charges, we checked the King County Jail register – and it showed that the suspect had been released from jail just after 9 pm. We sought comment from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office; spokesperson Casey McNerthney explains: “Prosecutors submitted the certification of determination of probable cause by police investigators. The court did not find probable cause for the criminal charge. Probable cause for a criminal charge is different than finding probable cause at a first appearance – there is a lower standard for probable cause at a first appearance hearing.”

Could the same suspect still be charged in the future, if there was different/more evidence, for example? McNerthney says, “Prosecutors can review additional and/or clarifying information from police investigators anytime within the statute of limitations.” In the document for last week’s initial court hearing, King County Sheriff’s Office detectives had said they traced the vehicle involved in the hit-run (which belongs to the suspect’s mother) – and then its driver – through security cameras and cell-phone records. Here’s the entirety of what they wrote in the probable-cause document for the first hearing (we’ve redacted the names and part of the plate):

On 04-22-24 V/Garrett was walking across the street at the intersection of 15 AV SW and SW Roxbury ST just outside of the City of Seattle. A Jeep Compass was traveling east on Roxbury street on a green light and struck Garrett who was pronounced dead that night at the hospital as a result of the collision. The Jeep did not stop and continued east on Roxbury street. Multiple witnesses called 911 and gave statements about what happened. Detectives later obtained video showing the collision and nearby video showing a clear image of the suspect vehicle but no plate could be seen. Detective later found video at a Mcdonalds at 26 AV SW and SW Barton ST of the same model and color of Jeep Compass with a plate of BWB2— which came back to (suspect’s mother) out of Puyallup. Other police reports showed that her son, (suspect), had used her cars in the past. DOL and social media photos of (suspect) matched the subject seen in the driver’s seat of the Compass on Mcdonalds Video. A tag of some sort hanging from the rear view mirror also matched what was seen of the video of the Compass near the crash scene. The video shows the Compass leave the Mcdonalds about 3 minutes before the collision which is about how long it would take to get to the scene of the collision. A warrant was done for historical records of the phone number associated with (suspect) and showed his location at the time of the collision as being within 148 feet of the collision with a 100-300m accuracy. On 05-16-24 Detectives arrested (suspect) leaving his mothers house and post Miranda warnings took a statement from him. He told Detectives that the Compass was having mechanical issues and that he parked it at his father’s house near Bremerton. (Suspect’s) mother said she hadn’t seen the car in about 3 weeks and that (suspect) regularly drives it.

We’ll continue following up.

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One Response to “CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Suspect in hit-run death of Tommy Joe Garrett released, not charged”

  1. That is unbelievable! There is no justice in this country, it’s pathetic and embarrassing to have such morons running it. Reprensible AF!