Boyfriend charged with murder in beating at Tulalip casino

Nomeneta Tauave, 33, fled while his girlfriend was loaded into an ambulance, the charges say.

TULALIP — Murder charges have been filed against a Pierce County man accused of beating his girlfriend outside the Tulalip Resort Casino, leaving her with injuries that proved fatal two days later.

Police reports list Nomeneta Tauave at 6-foot-6 and nearly 300 pounds. He was aware his girlfriend of about four years, Hana Letoi, 35, of Tacoma, had a heart condition and was taking blood thinners.

In the past, a family member reported to police that Tauave shot and injured her in 2018, but Letoi did not want to speak with detectives and no charges were filed, the new court papers say.

The couple got into a screaming fight at a Tulalip casino Oct. 23, according to the charges. Security ordered them to leave. Letoi was advised that she didn’t need to go with Tauave, 33, of Spanaway. She walked with him anyway to a silver GMC Yukon.

A security officer followed them to the vehicle, and could see the Yukon rock from side to side as Tauave grabbed the woman and shook her, wrote the deputy prosecutor, Julie Mohr. As the vehicle began to drive away, the woman fell out of the passenger door, landing on her hands and knees. Letoi struggled to walk and begged for help. She told security her boyfriend ripped her pants and punched her.

Her nose bled. Her body seized. She fell forward, lost consciousness and never spoke again, the charges say. Her ribs were broken, possibly from CPR. She died at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Oct. 25.

Snohomish County Medical Examiner Dr. J. Matthew Lacy determined the cause of death was “hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy” — a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain — “due to resuscitated cardiac dysrhythmia due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease in the setting of acute emotional stress following a physical altercation.”

According to the charges, Lacy found the cardiac arrest was a result of the emotional distress caused by Tauave’s actions. Prior heart disease and the presence of methamphetamine in Letoi’s blood put her at high risk of “sudden cardiac events,” the charges say.

Police tracked down the boyfriend in Lakewood the next day. He had shaved his beard, and the Yukon — with its license plate removed — was discovered days later at a home in Yelm.

In an interview with Snohomish County detectives, Tauave stated Letoi began to “fuss” in the casino, and the “fuss” continued when they got into the Yukon, according to the charges.

He told police she hit him, then acknowledged he may have scratched her neck as he fended her off.

“He did not want her to leave the vehicle so as she tried to get out the passenger side door, he grabbed her hand and arm to keep her in the vehicle,” the charges say, while giving Tauave’s version of events.

He told police he eventually turned around and watched as Letoi spoke with security.

“He said she seemed fine,” according to the charges.

He reported he then watched as she “jumped” into the ambulance. He drove to his hotel in Everett, “since she seemed okay,” charging papers say.

Court records show Tauave had warrants for his arrest in a Thurston County case where he was accused of criminal impersonation, driving with a suspended license and obstructing law enforcement in 2019. He had also served time in prison for possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary and attempting to elude law enforcement.

Prosecutors charged Tauave with domestic violence murder in the second degree. His bail remained at $1 million, according to a court order filed last week. He’s being held in the Snohomish County Jail.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

FILE — President Joe Biden arrives for a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024. Biden abandoned his campaign for a second term under intense pressure from fellow Democrats on Sunday, July 21, upending the race for the White House in a dramatic last-minute bid to find a new candidate who can stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Biden drops out of race, endorses vice president Kamala Harris

The president announced the decision on social media Sunday.

Granite Falls ‘10-foot alligator’ is actually a tegu named ‘Tazz’

Anybody who spots the docile lizard, last seen near Granite Falls, is asked to notify 911, so Tazz can be reunited with owner.

Photos by Olivia Vanni / The Herald
Gabby Bullock sits on her bed in a room she shares with another housemate on June 14 in Everett.
‘We don’t have openings’: SnoCo recovery houses struggle with demand

Advocates say the homes are critical for addiction recovery. But home prices make starting a sober living house difficult.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Food safety team defends its work: it’s a ‘high pressure, thankless’ job

Management tried to set the record straight about long permit delays in Snohomish County.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Global tech outage leaves a mark on Snohomish County

The CrowdStrike software update hit some systems at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and briefly disrupted 911 operations.

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.