Felony assault charges filed after attack in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District

On March 8, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed two counts of felony assault against a man accused of beating a couple in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. The second-degree assault charges also carry an aggravating factor that can lead to additional punishment.

Our office has reached out to the victims by phone and email and will continue to reach out to the victims as this case progresses.

If convicted for the felony crimes we charged, the defendant would face a longer punishment than if the case were charged as a hate crime — and the reason for charging an assault rather than a hate crime is based on the evidence we’ve received from investigators so far.

Investigators are looking for evidence that would allow us to prove a hate crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If that evidence is available, we can modify our charging decision.

Our office is committed to aggressively and expeditiously prosecuting this case. Last week, at the defendant’s first appearance in court, our office asked a judge to keep him in jail on $150,000 bail. The judge set bail at $100,000. This means that the defendant will remain in jail, pending trial, unless he posts $100,000 bail

After receiving the required case documents from police investigators, our office filed two felony counts of Assault in the Second Degree (assault that caused substantial bodily harm). Based on sentencing guidelines set by state lawmakers, if the defendant were convicted of both crimes, he would likely face a sentence between 12 to 14 months in prison.

We have additionally notified the defendant that we plan to prove that the injuries suffered by the victim were excessive in comparison to the level of bodily harm contemplated by the law. If we are successful in that, a judge would have the ability to increase the defendant’s sentence up to a maximum of 10 years.

To file a first-degree assault case, the law requires us to prove “great bodily harm,” which is defined by case law and typically permanent physical injuries. This crime is horrific with substantial injuries. At this time, we are unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the established case law standard for first-degree assault. But please do not confuse that with a lack of seriousness in this case. The charges can change based on medical records and additional evidence we receive going forward.

Our review of evidence includes the members of our office who are dedicated to prosecuting hate crimes. At this point, based on the evidence received from investigators, we have not filed this case as a hate crime because, as horrible as this attack was, we do not believe we can prove a hate crime before a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. We are ethically bound to only bring cases that we believe can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. We’re open to changing the charge if additional evidence is found or if the suspect makes additional statements.

We take hate crimes seriously, including the disturbing national trend of hate crimes against Asian Americans. Our office has two Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys dedicated to prosecuting hate crimes, and in 2020 our office filed nearly double the number of hate crime charges as compared to the two years prior. We are also expanding our outreach with law enforcement and public awareness efforts around hate crimes. If anyone is being targeted with violence because of their identity, we want to know about it so we can hold them accountable.

Details on possible sentences are below. Because the defendant is facing two counts, his sentence range that is set by state lawmakers would be 12–14 months if convicted.

The defendant’s next appearance is his arraignment, where he’s expected to enter a plea. That is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 22 in King County Superior Court.

This post was published the early afternoon of March 10, 2021 and is not expected to be updated. Additional updates in the case can be found through Electronic Court Records using case number 21–1–02135–5.

A blog from King County’s elected Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg.