Man in court for 25-year-old slaying — believed to be Pierce County’s first gang murder

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TACOMA – Terris Antonio Miller, 42, was arraigned Wednesday on first-degree murder for the slaying of Bernard Houston in 1988 — believed to be the first gang homicide in Pierce County, the county prosecutor’s office said.

gavelMiller is the fifth defendant to be arraigned on the first-degree murder charges for this crime. The other four — Brian C. Allen, Nathaniel Miles, Darrell M. Lee, and Anthony Ralls — were arraigned earlier this year.

Miller was brought to Pierce County from Michigan, where he was incarcerated in federal prison for unlawfully transporting a firearm.

According to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, on Aug. 28, 1988, Houston and Michael Jeter, two known Hilltop Crip gang members, apparently shot at Allen and Ralls, who were two known Blood gang members. The shooting took place on Tacoma’s east side.

“In retaliation, two car loads of Bloods drove to the Hilltop area looking for Crips. Allen drove Ralls and Lee in one vehicle while Miles drove Miller and Joey Courtney in a second car.

“Just before midnight in the area of South 23rd and Sheridan, the Blood group spotted Houston and Jeter in a car. Allen and Ralls stepped out of their car and gunfire erupted. Houston was shot in the head. The Blood gang members fled,” the prosecutor’s office said.

“Like a time capsule, this case reaches back to the early days of gang violence in Pierce County,” prosecutor Mark Lindquist said earlier this year. “Hard work and coordination by our Gang Unit and Tacoma Police made this prosecution possible.”

In 2011, the prosecutor’s office filed murder charges and issued a warrant for Allen’s arrest.

This year, Allen was picked up April 14 on the warrant in Texas, and on April 24 Tacoma police arrested Miles in Steilacoom. On April 25, 2013, Tacoma police arrested Ralls in Lakewood.

Joey Courtney is deceased.

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1 Comment

  • pesha

    it seems like the most obvious question here isn’t being answered. why is there no explanation in this article on why or how, now, after 25 years is this case being prosecuted by mark Lindquist? there is barely any information in this article besides lindquists very generic statement about tacomas gang unit or police. this definitely leaves me with more questions than answers.