One of the Federal Way teens accused of murdering a Puyallup grocery store owner on April 27 pleaded not guilty to the crime on Friday in Pierce County Superior Court.
Robbrie Thompson, 16, was charged with seven counts, including murder, robbery and the unlawful possession of a firearm. Thompson will be tried as an adult, according to prosecutors.
The body of the second suspect — 16-year-old Franklin Thuo — was found washed up on the shoreline of Chinook Landing Marina along Marine View Drive in northeast Tacoma on April 29, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Thuo was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide.
Following the Thompson’s arraignment, his mother responded to the media’s requests for comment by offering her condolences to the family of Soon Ja Nam, who was shot and killed during the robbery of her Puyallup store. Nam’s son was also present for the hearing, but declined to comment.
In the hallway outside the courtroom, after a member of the defendant’s family tried to speak with him, he responded with, ” … Don’t talk to me.”
Prosecuting attorney Mary Robnett said there was a “premeditated intent to cause the death of another person,” according to charging documents.
Both Thompson and Thuo allegedly agreed to rob the Puyallup store, the Handy Corner Food Store, the documents continue. Both teens allegedly armed themselves with a gun and drove to the store in Thuo’s Nissan Sentra on April 27.
Once inside the store, the teens approached Nam.
Thuo was wearing a blue hoodie or sweatshirt, a heavy knit beanie, a medical mask and blue rubber gloves, while Thompson was dressed similarly but wearing a black or dark grey hoodie, the charging documents continue.
Nam’s husband, Joseph, told detectives the gunman with the “round face” and the gun with silver on the barrel pointed the gun at him after shooting his wife in the back.
According to Nam’s husband, he was in their adjacent living quarters when he heard his wife call out to him from the counter. Detectives said Nam was shot around the time she yelled for her husband, because she fell to the ground before he could get to her, the documents continue.
When the gunman pointed his gun at Joseph, he opened the till and the gunman started taking money out of it, the charging documents read in part.
It was around this time that a longtime customer entered the store. According to the customer, Thompson exited the store shortly after Thuo shot Nam, the documents continue.
The customer said he noticed Joseph looked strange, and he smelled gun powder in the store. According to the charging documents, the gunman then raised his gun at the customer, who put his hands up and turned around in anticipation of getting shot.
The customer said he then heard footsteps leaving the store.
Other witnesses told police they saw the first gunman leaving the store acting “jittery and angry. ” They watched as he entered the Sentra and started pounding on the steering wheel, visibly upset.
During further investigations, a Snapchat video from several sources allegedly shows Thompson and Thuo smiling for the camera and brandishing firearms, according to the charging documents. The video was made around 4:34 p.m., half an hour before the robbery took place.
Detectives arrested Thompson on May 1, when he confessed to agreeing to rob several businesses, including the Handy Corner Market, according to charging documents. He then later changed his mind.
However, “the defendant then provided detectives with a timeline that does not appear to be consistent with interviews or other witnesses,” the documents continue.
Also, despite Thompson allegedly telling detectives there were no firearms in his home, after detectives searched his residence they located a .357 handgun they believed was used during the robbery.
Thompson allegedly told detectives the smaller gun seen in the video is Thuo’s, and while forensic evidence is still needed, initial evidence and reports support that Thuo did own the smaller gun and used it to shoot Nam, the charging documents read in part.
Thompson could face further charges, as the state reserves the right to add additional charges, including those related to Thuo’s death. The Pierce County Metro Dive Team continued to search the marina for more evidence where Thuo’s body was found on May 2.
The defendant’s bail was set at $2 million and he is being held at Remann Hall Pierce County Juvenile Detention Center.
His omnibus hearing is scheduled May 29 and the trial is set to begin June 18.