Four suspects face charges in Tacoma triple homicide

Four Pierce County residents were arrested last week in connection with a robbery and homicide in Tacoma during February that left a 22-year-old South Kitsap man and two others dead.

Ulysses Handy III, 24, Darryl David Pierce, 24, and Siree Tariq Muhammad, 18, were all charged Feb. 24 with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery in Pierce County Superior Court.

A fourth defendant, Ronee L. Gutierrez, was charged with one count of first-degree robbery.

All the defendants pleaded not-guilty and remain in custody, most on a no-bail hold.

According to court documents, Daniel Varo, 22, of South Kitsap, Darren Christian, 28, of Tacoma, and Lindy Cochoran, 21, were last seen alive around 2 a.m. on Feb. 7 as they were leaving a bowling alley and heading to Christian’s home near South Union and Sixth Avenue in Tacoma.

Several hours later, Tacoma police officers found all three dead of “close-range, execution-style” gunshot wounds to the head.

In interviews with police two weeks later, Pierce, Muhammad and Gutierrez all said that Handy planned the crime, intending to rob victim Christian of a safe he kept at his home. The defendants said that Handy knew where Christian lived and that the victim “typically had a lot of money ... (and) was known to sell significant quantities of street drugs.”

Muhammad told police that he both provided the murder weapon — a .357 revolver — to Handy and agreed to help him commit the crime for a fee.

He told police he went to Christian’s home and served as a lookout the night of the murders, and was paid $1,000 from the stolen safe afterward.

Gutierrez, the girlfriend of fellow defendant Pierce, told police that a few days before the shootings she heard Handy telling Pierce he was angry at Christian and planned to rob him.

She said Handy told Pierce that Christian had accused him of being involved in stealing his jacket recently, and Handy was “insulted.”

She went on to say that very early on the morning of Feb. 7, Muhammad and Handy came to her and Pierce’s home, and Pierce drove her and Handy to Christian’s home while Muhammad drove there separately.

She said she stayed in the car while Handy went into the home and Pierce acted as a lookout.

She said that after the shooting, Pierce helped Handy bring the stolen safe back to their house and open in, and that he received about $2,000.

When Pierce spoke to police investigators, he said he knew Handy was planning to “lick,” or rob, Christian, but he said that it was his girlfriend who drove the car.

He also said that he served as a lookout, but did not actually see the shootings.

He admitted that he helped Handy carry the safe back to his and Gutierrez’s home and helped pry it open, but denied getting money.

When pressed by investigators, however, he admitted he was given $50 for getting rid of the safe.

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