A Lacey man was already under investigation for the alleged rape of his 11-year-old stepdaughter when he was accused of fatally shooting his estranged wife and mother-in-law.
Prosecutors believe that the rape allegations could have prompted the shootings.
Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez, 32, faces a long list of charges Tuesday in Thurston County Superior Court. Among those charges are two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, a crime that could be punishable by the death penalty.
Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim said Tuesday that his office hasn’t yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in this case.
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Gardin-Gonzalez is accused of fatally shooting his mother-in-law, 51-year-old Kimberly Redford, then his estranged wife, 31-year-old Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez, on July 31. Both shootings occurred at the Gardin-Gonzalez home, on Crimson Court in Lacey.
He is also suspected of raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter that same day, then kidnapping his stepdaughter and 3-year-old son. He allegedly led police on a chase through Lacey and Olympia, before turning his gun on himself near the Olympia AutoMall.
Gardin-Gonzalez is currently being held at the Stafford Creek Correctional Facility, in Aberdeen, because of his medical complications. His jaw is still wired shut, and he is scheduled for multiple surgeries. He was scheduled to appear for arraignment Tuesday, but the hearing was postponed two months so that he can remain at Stafford Creek.
He will be represented by Vancouver-based attorney J.R. Yoseph, who has worked on aggravated first-degree murder cases in the past. Between 2011 and 2013, he represented Dennis Wolter, a Clark County man found guilty of killing his estranged girlfriend.
In all, Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez faces nine felony charges:
- Two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, based on the deaths of Redford and Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez.
- Two counts of first-degree rape, for the alleged rapes of the 11-year-old girl on July 31.
- One count of first-degree child rape, for the alleged rape of the girl sometime in April or May of this year.
- Two counts of first-degree kidnapping, based on the allegations that he took both the girl and his 3-year-old son.
- One count of first-degree burglary, for allegedly breaking into the family’s Lacey home.
- One count of first-degree assault, for allegedly shooting at a Lacey police officer on July 31.
In charging documents, Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Lord argues that Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez killed his wife and mother-in-law to conceal the commission of a different crime.
At the time of the July 31 shooting, Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez was already suspected of sexually assaulting his 11-year-old stepdaughter. And, he had already been arrested twice for alleged acts of domestic violence.
On Nov. 26 of last year, Lacey police officers responded to the Gardin-Gonzalez home after Redford called 911. Redford reported that Rachel and Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez had been arguing over the phone, according to a police report.
Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez told an officer that she had been married for six years, but her marriage was failing. The couple was in the process of separating. She said she didn’t feel safe, and that although Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez hadn’t threatened her that evening, he had in the past.
“Rachel said at one time he threatened to kill her. Rachel told me that Ricardo has also assaulted her in the past but she didn’t report any of those incidents,” the officer wrote in a report.
Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez said he had never threatened or assaulted his wife, and he just wanted to, “get through his separation and move on with his life.”
The Lacey Police Department next responded to the home on June 29, when a family friend called 911 and reported another altercation.
When an officer arrived at the home, he saw Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez standing in a doorway yelling and holding part of a broken broom in his hand, according to a police report. Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez reported that her husband had tried to take away her phone and destroy it.
Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez texted a family friend for help.
“Starting his s--t again. He’s calling all the utilities trying to take his name off but refusing to leave,” one message read.
The next message read, “911.”
Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez had a scratch on her arm, which she said occurred when her husband forcefully tried to take her phone.
Police arrested Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez pending three misdemeanor domestic violence charges: simple assault, harassment, and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.
He was booked into the Nisqually Jail.
Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez was granted a temporary restraining order.
She called 911 on June 30 to report that Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez had been released from jail, and had returned to the Lacey home, according to a police report. He came into the driveway, took his car and drove away.
A Lacey police officer located Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez on July 6, and he was booked into the Nisqually Jail on suspicion of violating the restraining order.
Meanwhile, Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez applied in for a protection order on July 3 in Thurston County Superior Court. She filed for divorce on July 5.
According to court documents, the couple had been married since 2010.
In a petition to the court, Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez asked for primary custody of the children. In her paperwork, Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez noted that she had custody of the children due to the protection order.
The couple was scheduled to appear in court to begin divorce proceedings on Aug. 3.
Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez drove to the Lacey Police Department on July 17. She reported that her husband had raped her then 10-year-old daughter earlier that year, according to a police report. The girl had told a friend about the alleged sexual assault during a sleepover, and the second child told her mother.
The girl reported that the incident occurred sometime in April or May. She said it only happened once.
The girl said that she told her mother about the incident in May, according to a police report. Initially, the girl thought that Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez had believed her. But, Ricardo Gardin-Gonzalez denied the incident.
“(She) told her friend after Ricardo was out of the house because she felt she needed to tell someone, and felt if she told her mom she wouldn’t believe her,” the report reads.
Two weeks later, Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez and her mother were fatally shot. Ricardo Gardin-Gozalez shot himself in the neck, and spent a month at Haborview Medical Center, in Seattle.
The 11-year-old girl’s paternal grandmother petitioned for custody of both children on Sept. 11, in Thurston County Family & Juvenile Court. She wrote in her paperwork that both of the girl’s parents are deceased, and the boy’s mother is deceased. She has already been granted emergency custody of the children.
The grandmother lives in Oklahoma.