DaShawn Horne is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a racially motivated attack in January. His assailant, 18-year-old Julian Tuimauga, received a 13-plus-year prison sentence for the assault.
A video Julian Tuimauga shot on his cellphone moments after beating DaShawn Horne unconscious with an aluminum baseball bat was played for King County Superior Court Judge Julia Garratt on Friday, and showed Horne lying bloody on the ground while Tuimauga shouted racial epithets.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Stephen Herschkowitz said he played the video to show the level of violence Tuimauga unleashed on an unsuspecting and unarmed Horne, now 27, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and other injuries in the racially motivated assault, which occurred in the driveway of the Tuimauga home in Auburn on Jan. 20. The attack was so vicious that police officers thought they were responding to a homicide scene.
On Friday, Tuimauga was sentenced to 13.3 years in prison during a hearing at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, the longest sentence possible, after Garratt rejected his attorney’s pleas for a 10.5-year sentence, citing as mitigating factors Tuimauga’s young age and traumatic childhood.
Horne, a former Federal Way football star who worked as a mail carrier in Kent before the attack, is African American. Charging papers say Tuimauga attacked him because he was incensed that Horne had spent the night with his sister, whom Horne had met at a Seattle nightclub on Jan. 19.
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Horne, who now uses a cane to walk, was in court Friday with his mother and other family friends.
“Julian snapped. He was not in control of himself,” said his defense attorney, Robert Huff. “He handled himself in the worst way possible.”
But Garratt said the facts of the case didn’t support a low-end sentence and imposed the longest sentence possible under the state’s sentencing guidelines.
The assault occurred after Horne had spent the night with Tuimauga’s sister at the family home in Auburn. The next morning, she called a Lyft car to drive Horne home, according to his relatives and charging papers.
The Lyft driver had backed into the driveway of a home in the 600 block of 27th Street Southeast to wait for Horne and witnessed the assault. He called 911.
The driver saw Tuimauga strike Horne twice in the head with the baseball bat and hit him again in the head and back after he fell unconscious to the ground, the charges say. He also heard Tuimauga say, “This is what happens when you bring black people around here,” according to the charges.
Tuimauga pleaded guilty in August to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime statute. In return for his guilty plea, federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue criminal civil-rights charges against Tuimauga, which Garratt noted could have added years onto his prison term.
In a brief statement, Tuimauga apologized to Horne and his mother, LaDonna Horne, but insisted he is not racist and did not commit a hate crime. He defended his repeated use of the N-word, saying it is a slang term used by his friends and his favorite rap singers and sports stars.
“Words matter and that’s something you need to take away from this incident,” the judge told him.
Garratt said Horne is locked in a prison of his own “and he’ll be locked in for the foreseeable future and possibly the rest of his life.”
Horne, the father of a 2-year-old boy, didn’t address the court, but Garratt said she received a handwritten letter from him. The last line — “I miss my son” — broke her heart, she said, telling Horne from the bench, “Your ability to parent your child has changed.”
LaDonna Horne spoke of the 103 days her son spent at Harborview Medical Center, the first two months in a coma. DaShawn Horne underwent numerous surgeries, contracted pneumonia and MRSA, lost his sense of smell and taste, and suffers from aphasia, which is a loss of the ability to understand or express speech due to brain damage, she said. He still requires 24-hour care.
“It was so hard to watch my son go through so much pain and suffering and it still is,” LaDonna Horne said.
To Tuimauga, she said: “Why, why, why? You didn’t even know his name … Bottom line, you tried to murder my son.”
Outside the courtroom, DaShawn and LaDonna Horne embraced Tuimauga’s stepmother and paternal grandmother.
“As a mother, I’m so sorry,” stepmother Virginia Tuimauga told the Hornes, her voice thick with tears.
“I’m thankful justice has been served and that they apologized. That meant a lot,” LaDonna Horne said.