For LaDonna Horne, the pain won’t go away.
She cries long and hard each night so she can appear bright and strong when she visits her comatose son.
“He’s fighting back. He’s still fighting for his life,” Horne said of her 26-year-old son, DaShawn, an African-American man from Kent, who was brutally beaten, allegedly at the hands of an aluminum baseball bat-swinging Auburn teenager, on Jan. 20. “He’s doing occupational therapy, coughing. He’s breathing on his own.
“He hears us, though. He’s hears all these people, the prayers. He feels them around him,” LaDonna Horne said. “My son is still alive. He has a second chance at life, and we’re all fighting with him. He’s going to make it. He’s going to pull through.”
Surrounded by family and friends, an emotional Horne turned angry and disappointed after Julian Tuimauga, 18, pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault and malicious harassment, the state’s statute for hate crimes, at the teen’s arraignment Monday morning in King County Superior Court at Kent’s Maleng Regional Justice Center.
King County prosecutors and Auburn Police have called the beating a hate crime attack.
Tuimauga, who is listed as Asian in court documents, is in county jail on $500,000 bail. The trial-setting date is March 5, although attorneys will ask for more time to prepare the case.
DaShawn Horne remains in an intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a traumatic brain injury.
The not guilty plea left LaDonna Horne scrambling for words.
“Can I yell? I’m angry. I’m upset. I mean, what else is there to say? LaDonna Horne said outside the courtroom afterward. “He should have pleaded guilty. I mean, the evidence is clear. … Justice is going to be served for DaShawn. Maybe it’s going to take a little time, but he’s going to serve his time.”
LaDonna Horne’s brother, Rodney King, had stronger words for the defendant.
“His intention was clear when he tried to kill my nephew,” King said. “He’s so cowardly that he couldn’t fess up to the fact that he was guilty of a crime. … If you’re man enough to pull a bat and play Mark McGwire on my nephew’s head, you should be man enough to plead guilty to what you did. Own up to what you did. It’s undeniable what you did.
“That was his chance. He could have faced it like a man,” King added. “He could have looked back at us and said, ‘I’m sorry for the pain that your family is facing right now. Honor, I plead guilty for what I did.’ “
Defendants rarely plead guilty at arraignments. It can takes months or even years before a case goes to trial, and sometimes defendants plead guilty before a trial.
King led a chant of “wake up DaShawn, wake up DaShawn” with family and friends outside the courtroom. Several supporters donned T-shirts bearing the victim’s photo and the inscription, #wakeupdashawn. The Horne family has set up an up a GoFundMe page page to help cover the victim’s medical bills, lost wages and child support for his 16-month-old son.
“Hate still exists and it needs to go away,” King said.
According to the police report and charging papers, Tuimauga attacked Horne with a baseball bat after becoming enraged when he learned his sister had spent the night with Horne at her Auburn residence in the 600 block of 27th Street Southeast. The siblings live at the home.
Tuimauga, police said, was “in a rage” when he struck Horne.
According to charging papers and the police report:
On the morning of Jan. 20, the woman called a Lyft car to drive Horne home. When the driver backed his car into the driveway, Tuimauga had come out of the house to ask who he was there to pick up, and the driver told him it was his sister who requested the ride.
The driver then saw Tuimauga walk to the corner of the fenced year, and shortly thereafter, saw Horne walk along the side of the house toward the driveway, according to the reports.
The driver called 911 shortly before 10:30 a.m. after the two men began to argue by the driveway. The driver then saw the suspect strike the victim two times in the head, knocking him to the ground, according to charging papers.
The driver heard Tuimauga say, “This is what happens when you bring black people around here,” charging papers said. The witness said the suspect struck Horne three more times to the body while he was lying on the ground, the reports said.
Horne was unconscious, bleeding as he lay on a rockery in the front yard when Tuimauga proceeded to take out his cellphone to take video of the victim while yelling racial slurs at him, charging documents said.
According to the reports, Tuimauga repeatedly used the N-word.
When police arrived at the scene they found Horne beaten and on the ground, unresponsive but breathing.
Police came inside the home to arrest Tuimauga.
Surveillance video recovered from a neighbor’s house that overlooked Tuimauga’s driveway shows Tuimauga, bat in hand, striking Horne twice while he is unconscious on the ground, once in the torso and another directly in the head, the police report said.
Horne is a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service, according to the Seattle Times. He played football at Federal Way High School and studied criminal justice at Eastern Washington University in Cheney for three years before dropping out when his former girlfriend got pregnant.