Two juvenile Lacey homicide suspects appear in court Tuesday

Staff writerJanuary 28, 2014 

Two juvenile suspects associated with the "East Side Crips" appeared in an Olympia courtroom Tuesday as a judge ordered both held on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with a shooting homicide in Lacey last week.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ordered Nickolas Armajo, 16, and Ronny McDaniel, 17, held at the Thurston County Jail during Tuesday's court hearing and set bail for both at $1 million. Both are being held on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree robbery.

Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim said he will try both juveniles as adults in connection with the Jan. 22 shooting homicide of Danial Smith, 34, in a parking lot outside the College Glen Apartments off of College Street in Lacey.

The pair was arrested at an Idaho gas station Thursday night after they had fled the state, court papers state.

A total of five males - the two juveniles who appeared in court Tuesday - and three other young adult suspects, are all now in custody in connection with Smith's slaying.

Court papers allege that the group of five males arranged a meeting with Smith in Lacey on Jan. 22 in an attempt to purchase an unspecified amount of marijuana. However, the group brought no money to the meeting in Lacey, and planned to rob Smith of his marijuana, court papers state.

McDaniel, who has no prior criminal history, is accused in court papers of firing a round from a handgun that struck and killed Smith Jan. 22. The rest of the males are accused of first-degree murder under an "accomplice liability doctrine," and, if convicted, face the same potential penalties they would if they had also fired the shot that killed Smith.

Tunheim said the three juvenile suspects must be charged as adults under state statutes, because of their ages and the crimes they are accused of committing.

The third juvenile suspect in the case, Ryan Anderson, 17, has already been charged as an adult in connection with Smith's homicide last week. He is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree attempted robbery in connection with the Smith's homicide.

Two other adults, Eric Adamczewski, 19 and Stephen Pettit, 18, also are charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree robbery in connection with Smith's homicide.

Anderson, Adamczewski and Pettit are scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 4 in Thurston County Superior Court.

Tunheim said in court Tuesday that the two juveniles arrested in Idaho on Thursday night, Armajo and McDaniel, "are the primary aggressors" who planned "the events that unfolded leading to the death of the victim in this case." Tunheim added that both are associated with the "East Side Crips."

Security was tight during Tuesday's court hearing. Officers from the Olympia Police Department at the Thurston County Sheriff's Office swarmed the courthouse parking lot on Lakeridge Drive, and extra uniformed and non-uniformed police patrolled inside the courthouse.

Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said the extra security was there as a precaution due to unsubstantiated reports of threatening messages that had been left on social media concerning the homicide.

Elwin added that during Armajo and McDaniel's first court appearance in juvenile court on Monday, groups were gathering and loitering in the courthouse parking lot on Mottman Road, and that was an additional security concern.

According to court papers released on Tuesday, the group of suspects first met with Smith Jan. 22 in a nearby grocery store parking lot at Yelm Highway and College Street, but Smith would not show the group the marijuana he had brought because they would not show him any money.

The group, including Smith, then dispersed, but McDaniel recontacted Smith by cell phone and arranged for the meeting in the College Glen Apartments that resulted in Smith's homicide about 5 p.m., court papers state.

According to court papers:

While Smith was parked in the parking lot at the College Glen Apartments, Armajo and Adamczewski approached Smith's vehicle "with plans of snatching the marijuana and running."

Anderson was in the driver's seat of the vehicle the group drove in to meet Smith.

Armajo got inside the passenger seat of Smith's parked vehicle, and again asked Smith to show him the marijuana. Smith again asked to see the money. Armajo turned to Adamczewski, who was standing outside Smith's car. Pettit and McDaniel then approached Smith's vehicle as Armajo exited Smith's car.

"Ronnie McDaniel then pulls a handgun out and points the gun into the car, cocking the gun. Eric Adamczewski says that the victim starts to drive forward when Ronnie McDaniel fires the gun."

Pettit and McDaniel fled on foot. Adamczewski, Armajo and Anderson got into the vehicle being driven by Anderson, and they drove away.

The five suspects then all meet up at a nearby apartment. McDaniel and Armajo are alleged to have left the apartment and fled with an unknown male.

Lacey police arrested Anderson, Adamczewski and Pettit at an apartment at the nearby College Pointe Apartments early Thursday morning.

License plate recognition software helped identify a car Armajo and McDaniel had fled in as they entered Idaho on Interstate 90.

Law enforcement in Idaho were alerted by Lacey police that the pair, who now had active warrants for their arrests in connection with Smith's homicide, were in the area.

An Idaho police officer arrested both suspects without incident while they were parked at a gas station about 9:30 p.m. Thursday night. Armajo and McDaniel waived extradition during a court hearing Friday in Idaho, and were brought back to Olympia to face charges in Thurston County Superior Court.

 

 

 

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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