TACOMA, Wash. -- Pierce County prosecutors said Wednesday that 28-year-old James Reha murdered a woman after her accomplice allegedly stole his cellphone.
Investigators believe he fired his gun into Morgan Deines’ car in retaliation over a car prowl gone wrong. Prosecutors said Reha tried to take the law into his own hands.
Reha pleaded not guilty to two charges: second degree-murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.
It all started early in the morning November 11 on North Seventh Street in Tacoma.
Police said they found Deines shot to death in the driver’s seat of an SUV. Investigators allege prior to the shooting, Deines and an unnamed male were prowling cars in the Tacoma neighborhood and found Reha asleep in a parked car.
Court documents allege Deines’ accomplice stole Reha’s cellphone and handed it to her – but when the prowler returned for more property, Reha woke up and reached for a gun.
That’s when Deines’ accomplice ran off -- but police said Reha fired several shots into Deines' SUV, killing her.
Reha eluded police until he was arrested Tuesday. Police said they recovered the murder weapon hidden under a recycling bin near the crime scene.
Investigators said the firearm had been reported stolen.
Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Reha did not have the right to use deadly force to retrieve his stolen cellphone; now he’s facing multiple felonies.
“If you are the victim of a property crime, call law enforcement,” he said. “Let the professionals catch the criminals.”
Reha does have a criminal history involving drugs, stolen property and burglary. He’s being held in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.