This week, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Nathen Ryan Terault for murder in the first degree and five counts of assault in the second degree. In August of 2015, Terault shot and killed Richard Johnson before stealing a car, firing shots at neighbors, and firing at police when they pursued him.
Terault is serving 51 years in prison.
“This defendant will never again be a danger to our community,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “These crimes jolted our sense of safety, but thanks to the effective response of the Puyallup Police Department, the shooting rampage was cut short, and the defendant’s been held fully accountable.”
Terault argued that his guilty plea was invalid and that he had ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals disagreed, affirming Terault’s 2016 conviction. Deputy Prosecutor Tom Roberts handled the appeal.
On Aug. 11, 2015, Terault fled from Puyallup Police officers who were attempting to stop him for speeding. He abandoned his vehicle near Johnson’s home, where he shot Johnson twice, killing him. Terault then retrieved a bag from Johnson’s vehicle. After shooting Johnson, Terault fired several shots at a woman and her two children, who had been standing nearby.
Neighbors at another home heard gunshots and saw Terault inside their truck. They yelled at Terault from inside their home and he fired several shots at them. One of residents ran to shut the garage door, but Terault entered the garage and fired a shot. As the woman ran to her front door, she encountered Terault. He pointed the gun at her face and demanded her car keys. She threw the keys at him and ran out of the house. Terault took the keys, started the woman’s vehicle and drove it through the garage door.
While fleeing in the stolen car, Terault fired multiple shots at pursuing officers, striking their patrol cars. He also pointed his gun at a pedestrian during the pursuit.
Terault collided with another vehicle and then fired multiple shots at the occupants. After abandoning the stolen vehicle, Terault ran up to another occupied vehicle and fired multiple rounds into the driver’s side door.
In an attempt to stop Terault, pursuing police officers fired at Terault, striking him once in the leg. Terault was also hit by a patrol car and was pinned under the vehicle. Officers called for medical aid and Terault was transported to the hospital.
Terault pleaded guilty on Aug. 11, 2016 and was sentenced to the high end of the sentencing range, 548 months in prison, plus an additional 72 months in prison for weapons enhancements, otherwise known as “hard time for armed crime.”