A 25-year-old Kent man accused of organizing illegal street racing and drifting events was charged Tuesday with being an accomplice to vehicular homicide in connection with the deaths of two women who were struck at an Auburn event last year.
Jerick Judd was arrested Tuesday morning and booked into the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, jail records show. King County prosecutors say Judd is believed to be the first person charged in King County with two counts of vehicular homicide for organizing events and disseminating event locations over Instagram, including the Nov. 27 event that led to the deaths days later of two women who were struck by a driver who lost control of his friend’s silver Chevrolet Camaro.
Judd is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail and prosecutors have asked that he be prohibited from using social media should he be released from jail, court records show. The charges against him note he has been cited, arrested or warned by police several times since June 2020 about his attendance at illegal race events.
“Even now, Judd remains undeterred by the deaths. Judd continues to engage in apparent illegal street racing promotion and organization,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff wrote in the charges, adding Judd most recently shared a flyer over social media for an event in Kent on Sept. 24.
Court records do not yet indicate which attorney is representing Judd.
The charges, citing the state’s accomplice liability statute, allege Judd “solicited, commanded, encouraged or requested” that another person drive a vehicle in a reckless manner, and that reckless operation of a vehicle was a proximate cause of the fatal injuries suffered by Kelly Acosta, 23, and Makenna Heustis, 19.
After the November event in Auburn, the Camaro’s driver, Rondale Hendricks, was charged in December with two counts of vehicular homicide after Acosta and Heustis died at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.
Hendricks, 20, a soldier assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was also charged with making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, accused of initially telling Auburn police that the Camaro’s owner was driving at the time of the collision before turning himself in, charging papers say.
Hendricks was briefly jailed before he was released on personal recognizance and he pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment last year, court records show. His trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 7. An email sent to his defense attorney seeking comment on the case was not immediately answered.
Auburn police investigated the case against Hendricks while the Washington State Patrol, with help from Auburn and Kent police, led the investigation against Judd, according to court records and a news release issued by the prosecutor’s office Tuesday.
It was raining and the pavement was wet when a group of drivers and spectators gathered in a large loading-dock area between two warehouses in the 3700 block of I Street Northwest in Auburn around 10 p.m. on Nov. 27, say the charges filed against Hendricks.
Behind the wheel of the Camaro, Hendricks “was intentionally accelerating in a circle causing the rear tires to break traction and spin” when he lost control and struck three women who were either standing or walking in front of the car, according to the charges. Two women were critically injured and later died, but the third did not require medical treatment.
In the case against Judd, a state trooper wrote that “drifting,” also known as “swinging,” is “a dangerous activity in which the driver of a vehicle intentionally accelerates their vehicle and over-steers in hard corners or in circles, which causes the rear of the vehicle to lose traction and whip around.”
Typically organized over social media, organizers will distribute a list of numerous locations, with participants proceeding from one location to the next in an effort to thwart police, the charges say. Many of the street racing or drifting events repeatedly use the same locations.
Following the deaths of Acosta and Heustis, the State Patrol began investigating the increase in takeover events generally, and the Nov. 27 event in Auburn, specifically, according to the charges.
From searches of direct messages on Instagram, investigators connected Judd to two accounts that were used to send out a list of locations and a flyer advertising the Nov. 27 event, say charging papers. Two email addresses and a cellphone registered to the Instagram account belong to Judd, say the charges, which note he twice used the same phone number to call 911 and identified himself as the caller.
In the hours before the Auburn event, investigators found that Hendricks and Judd had traded direct messages and Judd sent Hendricks a list of locations, including the location of the fatal collision, charges say.
In early December, Judd’s Instagram account was used to promote another illegal street event. When someone messaged him, questioning why he was going forward with the event after saying he was going to lie low following the death of one of the victims, Judd responded that the event had already been planned and he didn’t want to cancel it at the last minute, according to the charges. He wrote that he wouldn’t be driving his own car.