A man suspected of fatally stabbing a 20-year-old man in the University District earlier this month has been charged with murder, with prosecutors describing the crime as an “unprovoked attack.”

Nathan Hunter Patterson, 21, was charged Monday with second-degree murder in King County Superior Court, according to charging documents. He is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

According to charges, Patterson stabbed John J. Miller in the alley behind the Roots Young Adult Shelter around 7 p.m. Aug. 14. The King County Medical Examiner’s identification of the man who was killed differs from prosecutors, who said his last name is Valdez-Miller.

Patterson had recently been kicked out by his family, who told police they asked him to leave unless he went to rehab for an addiction to methamphetamine, according to charges. At least three witnesses told police Patterson was handing out cups of water from a nearby Starbucks to people in the alley when he got into an argument with the victim and stabbed him, according to charges.

One witness told police that the men didn’t physically fight, calling the stabbing “out of the blue,” according to charges.

“The Defendant attacked and stabbed to death John Valdez-Miller for no reason,” senior deputy prosecuting attorney Adrienne McCoy wrote in charges, also calling it an “unprovoked attack.”


Miller died at the scene of a stab wound to the chest, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office.

Police obtained surveillance video from the nearby Starbucks they said showed a man matching Patterson’s description head toward the alley with trays of water before the stabbing.

One witness told police Patterson’s middle name, and police said they were able to identify Patterson after speaking to shelters in North Seattle. One shelter provided surveillance video, which police said they were able to use to match Patterson to the man in the Starbucks video.

Police contacted Patterson’s family, who identified him in the videos, according to charges. They told police that Patterson is homeless and has mental illness and addiction to methamphetamine.

Patterson showed up at his family’s residence a week after the stabbing to turn himself in to police.

According to police, a family member of Patterson’s said he told them he stabbed the victim, who he said had bothered a woman at some point in the past. Patterson told the family member the man had a knife and that in the struggle, somehow got stabbed.

Police said witness statements don’t support Patterson’s account of what happened.

Patterson will next appear in court Sept. 9.