Teen charged with assaulting 7-year-old Puyallup girl

The charges are first-degree murder, first-degree rape, first-degree child rape and first-degree kidnapping.

Tuesday, Pierce County prosecutors stacked them on a 14-year-old Puyallup boy accused of assaulting a 7-year-old girl last week and leaving her to die.

He’s not old enough to drink, drive or vote – but prosecutors are taking a rare step, seeking to try him as an adult. If prosecuted as a juvenile, he would face a sentence of up to 6 1/2 years. If tried as an adult, he could face a sentence of 30 years or more.

“This is one of those few cases where the severity of the offense and the safety of our community call out for adult-sized accountability,” Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said.

Charging papers say the boy admitted luring the girl into the woods near the Puyallup apartment complex where both children lived, and strangling her until she passed out. He denied sexually assaulting her, but subsequent examination of the girl’s injuries revealed signs that suggested otherwise, charging papers state.

The girl underwent surgery at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center to repair damage to her throat. Prosecutors say she is recovering.

Charging papers state the boy admitted dragging her farther into the woods after realizing what he’d done. He told police he “had to get rid of her so she couldn’t tell anyone.” The girl was found late July 10 after a frantic search. Though she had trouble speaking, she identified the boy as her attacker.

Tuesday’s hearing was an arraignment, a pro forma procedure. The boy pleaded not guilty to all charges. The News Tribune is not naming him because he is still charged as a juvenile.

He was in court for all of five minutes, watched by a crush of reporters and cameras. He was small and slight. He wore a blue jumpsuit and a pair of glasses and said nothing.

He has prior convictions for third-degree assault and fourth-degree assault, tied to an incident in 2012. Charging papers state he tried to hang himself and choke his 4-year-old brother. He also fought with a pair of sheriff’s deputies who tried to restrain him.

For now, the boy will stay at Remann Hall, Pierce County’s juvenile detention facility. The next step is a July 30 hearing to hear motions on trying him as an adult. Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Benton said he expects the hearing to be continued to give defense attorneys more time to prepare.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486