JBLM Deserter Was Being Hunted for Questioning in Space Murder when Arrested Final Week

A deserter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was being sought in reference to a latest murder when he was arrested Friday in King County, a legislation enforcement official instructed The News Tribune.

Army legislation enforcement personnel and Tukwila police arrested Army Spc. Jonathan Kang Lee on Jan. 26 close to Redmond. Lee had not been seen at JBLM since Jan. 14 as his trial on child-sex fees there approached. He was convicted of these fees in absentia on Jan. 19 and sentenced to 64 years in jail, the Army mentioned.

Contacted by The News Tribune on Saturday, a spokesperson for the Redmond Police Division mentioned that on the time of his Friday arrest Lee was being sought in reference to a Jan. 15 murder in Tukwila. She declined to supply additional particulars.

On Sunday, Tukwila Police Division spokesperson Sgt. Zachary Anderson would neither affirm nor deny if Lee is a suspect within the dying of taxi driver Nicholas Hokema, whose physique was found Jan. 15 in a Southcenter Mall car parking zone. On Sunday, Hokema’s lacking taxi was discovered within the Redmond Ridge neighborhood. Tukwila police impounded it, in keeping with the King County Sheriff’s Workplace.

The Redmond Ridge growth is adjoining to the neighborhood the place Lee was arrested Friday within the 9500 block of 226th Place NE, in keeping with a search warrant.

“Specialist Lee was arrested by Army CID on fees unrelated to our investigation,” Anderson instructed The News Tribune on Sunday.

Lee has not been charged in Hokema’s dying, in keeping with state courtroom information.

On Tuesday afternoon, Tukwila police launched an announcement on Hokema’s dying which mentioned partially, “An individual of curiosity on this case is at the moment in custody with one other company on unrelated fees. We’re working intently with the King County Prosecutor’s Workplace throughout this investigation.”

Why wasn’t Lee in custody?

I Corps spokesperson Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra mentioned she had no touch upon Lee’s doable involvement with Hokema’s murder when contacted by The News Tribune on Monday. She referred the newspaper to Tukwila police.

Requested why Lee was allowed freedom earlier than his courtroom martial within the child-sex case, she referred the newspaper to the Commanders Authorized Handbook’s “Pretrial Restraint” part. It states that there is no such thing as a bail system within the army. An arrest or a state of affairs that’s thought of to be an arrest triggers the “speedy trial clock” for that suspect and, if a trial isn’t held quickly sufficient, fees might be dismissed with prejudice.

It additionally states that pretrial confinement ought to solely be used if the accused is a flight threat or may commit critical future misconduct.

“It isn’t sufficient that the accused is a ache within the neck or a problem,” the handbook states. “He should both be a flight threat OR have the potential to commit SERIOUS future misconduct, which might embody SERIOUS threats to your unit’s self-discipline and readiness.”

Nicholas Hokema

On Jan. 15, the Tukwila Police Division introduced on social media the invention of Hokema’s physique.

Jacob Stapp, Hokema’s colleague at Olympia-based RediCab, instructed The Olympian that Hokema had pushed a taxi for the enterprise since 2016.

Stapp mentioned they discovered about Hokema’s dying from police about midday Jan. 15. He mentioned Hokema was a “good-natured and kind-hearted man,” and prospects usually mentioned he had nice style in music.

“It’d appear to be small factor, nevertheless it made a distinction with prospects,” he mentioned.

On Jan. 18, Tukwila police introduced on Fb that Hokema’s dying was being investigated as a murder. In addition they requested the general public to assist determine a taxi linked to the suspicious dying. Additionally on Jan. 18, the King County Medical Examiner’s Workplace reported Hokema, 34, died of a number of sharp-force accidents and listed his dying as a murder.

That was adopted by data that the car was seen in unincorporated Redmond noon on Jan. 19, nevertheless it fled earlier than police arrived, in keeping with the division’s Fb web page.

Hokema’s dying has left his household and mates bereft.

“I have not at all times had the perfect luck with relationships,” Hokema’s girlfriend Nicole Sharkody instructed KIRO 7. “It took me years earlier than I even considered relationship once more. However I’m so glad that I met him.”

A GoFundMe web page has been launched to assist Hokema’s household.

“The lack of Nick has been profoundly devastating for many who liked him,” the submit reads. “Not too long ago studying he was going to be an uncle, Nick had been enthusiastically researching the best way to set up a school fund for his niece earlier than his premature dying.”


Little one sex-abuse fees in opposition to Lee have been first filed in Pierce County in Might 2022. In Pierce County charging paperwork, Lee was accused of kid rape and molestation crimes that occurred in Steilacoom as early as 2020. The victims have been recognized to him and have been about 6 or 7 on the time.

Pierce County Prosecuting Lawyer Mary Robnett dismissed the fees in September 2022 when the army took over Lee’s prosecution.

“The army is best located to deal with this case, as among the alleged abuse might need occurred exterior the State of Washington,” she wrote. A few of the abuse might need occurred in Georgia, in keeping with charging papers.

Lee’s court-martial started on Jan. 16, two days after he was final seen at JBLM. On Jan. 19, he was convicted by a army panel composed of officers and enlisted members, in keeping with the Army.

Along with his confinement sentence, the army decide diminished Lee’s army grade to E-1 — the bottom rank. The decide additionally ordered Lee to forfeit all pay and allowances. When his sentence is accomplished, Lee might be launched from the Army with a dishonorable discharge.

The court-martial didn’t embody any fees associated to Hokema’s dying or Lee’s desertion.

Lee’s legal professional didn’t instantly return a request for touch upon Tuesday.

Employees author Rolf Boone of The Olympian contributed to this report.


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