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Thursday, May 11, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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3 youths charged in man's beating death

Seattle Times staff reporter

Three Tacoma high-school students — two with college scholarships — were charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection with the beating death of a 55-year-old man in front of his home last month.

Daniel Harris, 18, Cyril Walrond, 17, and Jarrelle Marshall, 16, were also charged with first-degree assault and three counts of first-degree burglary each. Police say the death of Dien Huynh, who was repeatedly struck in the head with a hammer, was part of an early-morning crime spree that also involved the assault and robbery of a couple on the city's Les Davis Pier.

Juveniles Walrond and Marshall were charged as adults, as was Harris. Each pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bail for the teens, who were being held in Pierce County Jail, was set at $1 million each. Their next court date is May 25.

The Seattle Times generally does not name juvenile defendants unless they're charged as adults.

Huynh had just arrived home from work around 1 a.m. on April 20 and, after dropping off his lunchbox in the kitchen, went back outside to the front-porch area of his home in the 3800 block of South 16th Street to check some rodent traps he had set.

Police allege that the three teens surrounded Huynh, who was much smaller than the teens, and tried to grab him. He tried to get away, but was caught and was repeatedly struck in the head by Walrond with a wallboard hammer, according to charging documents. Huynh died April 22.

Police say the teens also took Huynh's wallet and car keys. Charging documents say the motive for the slaying was robbery.

The alleged crime spree began about an hour earlier when they reportedly confronted a couple strolling along Tacoma's waterfront, police said. Charging papers accused Walrond of striking Carl Schmidt on the head with the hammer.

The hammer appeared to be the one used in the attack on Huynh. Papers also allege the three defendants took compact discs, a cellphone and money from Schmidt and his girlfriend, Amber Limanek.

"Basically, they went through the north end of our city raising mayhem," said Tacoma police spokeswoman Tracy Conaway. She said police were led to the defendants partly because of tips from the community. "The thing about juveniles is that they tend to talk," she said.

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All three teens are well-known students at Mount Tahoma High School, said Patti Holmgren, Tacoma Schools spokeswoman.

Harris and Walrond, both seniors, had earned Washington State Achievers scholarships, Holmgren said. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers the program to eligible students at 16 Achievers High Schools; the scholarships average about $5,000 each year for four years.

All three teens played football and ran track, Holmgren said. Walrond planned to attend the University of Washington and was recently elected African American Pageant Prince for the student body's annual festivities, she said.

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or nsinger@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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