Teenager pleads guilty to murder

Alexander Joachin, 17, pleaded guilty Sept. 19 to second-degree murder for shooting to death Erick J. Valdez-Herrera while Valdez-Herrera was sitting, unarmed, in his own car on Auburn’s south end on the morning of Oct. 7, 2016.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mary Barbosa charged Joachin, who was 16 at the time, as an adult under Washington state’s automatic adult jurisdiction law, which allows for prosecution in adult court for 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of serious, violent offenses.

The sentence range is 183 to 280 months in prison. Sentencing at this time is set for Oct. 20 before Judge Elizabeth Berns in courtroom 3C of the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

According to the Auburn Police Department’s Determination for Certification of Probable Cause, which formed the basis of the prosecution’s charge, during a police interview Joachin admitted to shooting 17-year-old Valdez-Herrera, whom he described as being disrespectful.

Here is what Barbosa told the court in her request for bail:

“The defendant shot the victim six times in the shoulder, back and chest at a close range. He and several other young men wore bandanas to cover their faces and ran away after the shooting. The defendant … told detectives that the victim was being disrespectful to other gang members .…”

Here is what happened, according to the police account.

At 8:32 a.m. on Oct. 7, witnesses called 911 to report that someone had just been shot in the 500 block of 25th Street Southeast.

According to the report, witnesses told officers a group of individuals had walked up to a car on the street and one person, whom a witness later identified as Joachin, fired multiple shots at the driver, Valdez-Herrera, at close range.

Valdez-Herrera died at the scene.

Although Police contacted Joachin, a known member of the Rancho San Pedro gang who is also called Lil Shadow, about 15 minutes after the shooting and two blocks away, at the time they could not confirm any connection to the shooting.

According to the account, witnesses helped detectives follow the general path Joachin had taken to run from the scene, and where police had earlier contacted Joachin they found a gun matching the general size and caliber of the murder weapon.

At about 11 p.m. that same day, police caught up with Joachin at a home in Federal Way.

According to the police account, after police read Joachin his rights, he admitted that he had shot Valdez-Herrera while Valdez-Herrera was sitting in his own car.

According to the account, Joachin told police his original intention had been to “sock him,” but he said he changed his mind and pulled out the gun he had hidden in his pants, a gun he said he had found.

According to the account, Joachin admitted he had shot Valdez-Herrera several times at close range and that Valdez-Herrera had not had any weapons in his hand.

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