Kent, Federal Way men charged in 2017 murder of Seattle woman

Prosecutors say three gang members fired up to 16 shots at vehicle

A Kent man and a Federal Way man were among three men charged June 30 for the murder of a 20-year-old woman shot in 2017 in a car on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle.

Deautre D. Dorsey, 20, of Kent; Jerrod Victor Marks, 25, of Federal Way; and Dwayne Carlos Morris Jr., 20, of Seattle, each face charges of second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. All three are known gang members.

Che’Reonna Thomas, of Seattle, was a passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend on July 1, 2017, allegedly being chased by a car occupied by Dorsey, Marks and Morris, according to charging papers filed by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The defendants fired multiple shots at the back of the car. Thomas ducked down for cover, but one of the bullets struck her in the head. She never regained consciousness and died Aug. 7, 2017, one month after her 20th birthday, at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“These men fired their guns directly into this car with absolute disregard for Che’Reonna’s life,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Adrienne McCoy in the charging documents. “Afterward, they marked the occasion by taking a photo at a nearby park, smiling and flashing their gang signs and guns.”

All three men, whose last known addresses were in Kent, Federal Way and Seattle, were arrested for other crimes within a few months of Thomas’ murder and each of them pled guilty to other firearm offenses, according to charging papers. They have since remained in custody while the Seattle Police investigated the shooting of Thomas.

Dorsey is serving a prison sentence for first-degree assault and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm for shooting at rival gang members and nearly striking a pedestrian in 2017. Prior to that, he was convicted three times in juvenile court for unlawful possession of a firearm (2016, 2015) and once for possession of a stolen firearm (2015).

Marks is serving a sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm (2018) where he was arrested in possession of a 9mm firearm with a 31 round capacity extended magazine attached. When arrested, Marks was on community custody for a 2014 drive-by shooting when he sprayed bullets into a residence, nearly striking the homeowner while she lay sleeping in her bed. He also has convictions from juvenile court for second-degree attempted robbery (2011), attempted residential burglary (2011), second-degree robbery (2009) and taking a motor vehicle without permission (2009).

Morris is serving a sentence for three counts of second-degree assault with firearm enhancements for the May 2017 shooting of three people on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle. He and his accomplices fired at a car intending to shoot the driver and instead hit two women in the car and a pedestrian on the street. All three shooting victims recovered.

“There is no greater danger to the safety of our community that this behavior,” McCoy wrote. “Each of these defendants has used firearms on other occasions, placing additional members of our community in harm’s way. Dorsey and Marks had already been ordered by the King County Superior Court not to even possess guns, yet each has ignored this order multiple times.”

Thomas shooting details

In the fatal shooting of Thomas, her boyfriend told Seattle Police that he was driving Thomas’ 2006 silver Chrysler 300 when shots were fired at the car. Officers responded to the 5200 block of Rainier Avenue South and located numerous spent shell casings. Detectives processed the vehicle and found it was shot 15 to 16 times from the rear.

Two witnesses to the shooting told police they saw two cars chasing each other and that shots were fired. Police used video surveillance footage from multiple businesses that showed the car driven by the boyfriend and the suspect vehicle. The boyfriend told a detective he didn’t know who shot at him and Thomas. But the detective learned from others that one of the shooters was identified as “Hot Rod.”

The detective said he knew from prior investigations the real name for “Hot Rod” to be Jerrod Marks. The detective obtained cellphone records for Marks that showed from nearby towers that he was in the area of the shooting of Thomas on July 1, 2017. The phone had photos taken at about 2:08 a.m. July 1, about 10 minutes after the shooting of Thomas. One photo showed Marks standing with Dorsey. Marks held in his right hand what appeared to be a handgun. His left hand was throwing up the gang hand-sign for “44 Holly.” Dorsey was throwing up the hand sign for “Down Wit the Crew (DWC).” What appeared to be a handgun was visible in Dorsey’s right front pants pocket.

Several people interviewed by the detective said Marks and Dorsey each have ill will toward the boyfriend of Thomas and his family for various reasons.

A cooperating witness told police that Dorsey and Morris talked about the July 1, 2017 shooting. He said Marks was driving the vehicle and that all occupants of the car began shooting at the boyfriend of Thomas after they pulled up directly behind his vehicle. They later learned about Thomas being in the vehicle and that she was shot in the head. Around that time, Morris lived with Dorsey in his Kent apartment.

All three men are scheduled to be arraigned on July 13 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

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