Court of Appeals affirms conviction in cold-case murder

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The Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the first degree murder conviction of Brandon Lee Farmer. In April 2016, Farmer was convicted of the 2006 cold-case murder of Velma Tirado, 45.

“Our cold-case project continues its string of successes,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Justice was delayed, but not denied. Collaboration between the Tacoma Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and our office has resulted in several convictions with more to come.”

In his appeal, Farmer argued that the jury should have received instructions on first or second degree manslaughter. The Court rejected this argument finding that the evidence did not support that the lesser crimes were committed.

Additionally, the Court found no merit in Farmer’s claim that the prosecutor engaged in improper argument. Attorneys routinely make such claims on appeal.

On Aug. 27, 2006, Farmer and his friend, Dusty Titus, picked up Tirado, who was working as a prostitute in downtown Tacoma. They drove to a nearby alley where Tirado performed oral sex on Farmer in the front seat of the vehicle. At some point, Farmer and Tirado transitioned to the open doorway of the truck. When they finished the sex act, Farmer drew a revolver and shot Tirado in the head.

No suspects were identified in the initial investigation and the case was referred to the Tacoma Police Department’s Cold Case Unit. In October 2014, former Tacoma Police detective, Gene Miller, currently an investigator with the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office, received a phone call from investigators in California. Titus told Miller he was the driver of the truck involved in Tirado’s murder. Miller and FBI Special Agent Terry Postma interviewed Titus, who identified Farmer as the shooter. Farmer then admitted to Miller that he was present during the murder.

Farmer is currently serving a sentence of 34 years in prison.

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