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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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2 comments

  • 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.

    • Andrea

      I so much agree with this statement!,,Tacoma police new the entire time who was involved in murder ,,,it happened right where ALL of them got together EVERY day and night,there were several witnesses,I feal T.P.D. chose to sweep under carpet for the moment to give these young angry uneducated men a chance to keep retaliatein,,so they could either eventually end up in prison or maybe even dead!,,our departments were overwhelmed with gang violence at that time,,they could not control the situation and it was becoming bigger and bigger problem every day!!,,so why not the murderers stay free!!?,,because soon they will be retaliated against and so forth,that being said eventually these young men would be depleted one by one,,them doing it to themselves,,why put departments at risk if no need,right?..I believe the whole matter could have been closed years ago,,and at least give the family members justice,instead they are pained deeply then and now we open them wounds 25 years later and pour acid right on an open soar!!!the murderer got 2 and 1/2 years timed served!!!,,,I would have been better off believing what I did 25 years ago if it were my child!!!,to no a soul took another one and only served 2years of his life when my son doesn’t get to live anymore of his!!!Justice cuts like a knife sometimes,in the end we just hope the real judgement time is what matters the most…………

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