King County prosecutors ask for ‘second opinion’ on murder suspect’s dramatically reduced bail

KING COUNTY, Wash. — When a King County judge decided to dramatically reduce the bail of a man charged in a Belltown shooting murder and allow his release without conditions, prosecutors decided to get a second opinion from another judge.

Prosecutors argued that the murder suspect, Isaiah “Junior” Tulasaga, 25, poses a major public threat to safety and should have restrictions on his release.

Tulasaga allegedly told SPD detectives he fired his gun in a crowd during a nightclub fight that spilled into a Belltown parking lot early Sunday morning.

Ilario Ngauamo, 26, was among four men killed in three separate unrelated shootings across Seattle on Sunday morning.

Tulasaga allegedly told detectives he intervened in a fight between Ngauamo and Tulasaga’s friend. Police documents indicate Tulasaga admitted firing a shot in a crowd, intending to scare the victim.

Tulasaga, who has no previous criminal history, was jailed on bail originally set at $2 million, but on Wednesday, King County Judge Maureen McKee reduced the bail to $150,000 and gave no other conditions on his release.

Prosecutors took the unusual step to appeal that decision with a different judge. Judge Melinda Young ordered Tulasaga to surrender his guns and concealed carry permit, wear electronic monitoring and not leave King County.

“After the judge’s decision to lower the bail, there were people on our office who lost sleep over that because we don’t want to see violence continuing,” said Casey McNerthney, with the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

Tulasaga’s arraignment on a second-degree murder charge is scheduled for Aug. 11.

In a statement to KIRO 7 News, Judge McKee said, “I would very much like to discuss the reasons behind my decision in the case of State v. Tulasaga and understand why your viewers would like more information.  As I am sure you know, the Washington Code of Judicial Conduct, sec. 2.10, prohibits a judge from making a public statement on a pending case.  I can tell you that as a judicial officer, I am obligated to follow the law.  I take that responsibility extremely seriously, striving to make all decisions including bail decisions only after carefully and thoughtfully applying the governing law to the given set of facts before me.”

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