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Hit-and-run killer referenced in controversial pursuit law debate convicted

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(The Center Square) – A Pierce County, Washington man accused of killing one girl and injuring another while driving a stolen truck has been found guilty of multiple felony charges.

Jurors in the case of 33-year-old Terry Kohl returned their verdicts Thursday, concluding a two-week trial in Pierce County Superior Court.

Kohl, who has a prior criminal history, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11 and likely faces extensive prison time.

Kohl was convicted of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault with reckless conduct, resulting in the death of 12-year-old Immaculee Goldade and injuring Kathleen Olson while the two young friends were walking together mid-morning on Jan. 15, 2022, in the Midland/Parkland area south of Tacoma.

In addition to the hit-and-run vehicular homicide and assault charges, Kohl was convicted of failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death, second-degree burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and first-degree possession of stolen property.

Authorities accused Kohl and an accomplice, J. Michael Hutchins, of burglarizing a landscaping business, with Kohl stealing a large GMC flatbed truck that was later involved in the fatal collision. The incident was investigated by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives reportedly used cell phone data from the two suspects and a GPS unit in the truck to track its whereabouts and later obtained video from various security cameras showing him in the vehicle.

After being taken into custody, Kohl allegedly told investigators that he had earlier used methamphetamine, but jurors did not hear that admission at trial.

During trial, Kohl’s defense counsel contended that he was unaware of being in a collision when he struck the girls and drove away, a claim scoffed at by prosecutors.

Details of Kohl’s case were among those heard by state legislators in debates over a controversial law initially passed in 2021 that restricts police in vehicle pursuits.

An amended version of the bill was approved this April, lowering the threshold from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion” for police to initiate pursuits involving drivers suspected of serious crimes, including acts of violence, vehicular assault or homicide, driving under the influence or trying to escape arrest.

Immaculee Goldade’s mother, Amber Goldade, was critical of the measure, ESB 5352, issuing a statement at the time that called it “weak and won’t protect the most vulnerable.”

The bill, she said, would not have protected her daughter or friend or “countless others affected by the police being restricted from pursuing stolen vehicles.”

“Forbidding the police to pursue stolen vehicles is causing a lawless society,” said Goldade. “In a lawless society, more innocent people will die.”

The state’s case against Kohl was handled by Pierce County deputy prosecutors Thomas Howe and Elizabeth Dasse. Kohl was represented by public defenders Sarah Tofflemire and Jared Varo.

Kohl’s accomplice in the burglary, J. Michael Hutchins, pled guilty last August to burglary, theft, and vehicle theft charges in connection with the incident, along with another charge of vehicular assault involving his girlfriend while fleeing police, and was sentenced to over five years prison, reported The News Tribune.

Kohl also has another trial scheduled for Aug. 14 on a separate charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

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