4 held for trial in shooting death of 10-year-old Washington County girl
Inside a heavily guarded courtroom, a Washington County judge on Wednesday listened to how a botched robbery ended with the shooting death of a 10-year-old girl and ordered all four defendants — including a distant cousin of the victim — to stand trial.
Douglas Cochran Jr., 18, Anthian Goehring, 28, Malik Thomas, 20, and Richard White, 18, all of Washington, are charged with homicide, robbery, burglary, conspiracy and related counts in the March 31 death of Taniyah Thomas in her family's apartment on West Chestnut Street, near downtown Washington. Malik and Taniyah Thomas were related.
“Malik comes from a good family. This is not how he was raised to be,” said his attorney, Michael DeRiso. “Not in a million years was this something he planned to happen.”
Washington police Lt. Dan Stanek testified in the full courtroom that the defendants' names surfaced within days of the shooting.
“It's a small city,” Stanek said.
More than a dozen sheriff's deputies and police officers wore bulletproof vests inside and outside the courtroom, double-checking bags and using a metal-detecting wand on anyone who entered. Officials said the procedures were precautionary because of the case's circumstances.
Investigators first honed in on Goehring, who offered a string of false alibis, Stanek said.
Goehring nervously shook his leg as he sat next to his co-defendants, each dressed in orange jail jumpsuits. He wiped tears with a tissue clutched in his cuffed hands.
None of the defendants spoke during the nearly two-hour hearing except for Cochran, who told Magistrate Ethan Ward that he would proceed without an attorney after failing to retain one.
Stanek and Officer Dan Grossman, one of the first people to arrive at the scene, testified that a dozen shots were fired into the apartment's wooden door.
Several people cried audibly in the courtroom as Coroner Tim Warco testified that a bullet struck Taniyah in the back of the head, which caused her death. Another gunshot wound to her shoulder would not have killed her, he said.
According to Stanek, the four defendants left the Lincoln Terrace housing project sometime after 3 a.m. March 31 in a rented 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and intended to get something to eat before going to a Red Roof Inn near Interstate 70.
White drove because he was the only one with a driver's license, Stanek said. Stanek said the defendants told investigators that the conversation turned to robbing Robert Lester Jr., 26, who lived in the apartment with Shantye Brown, 34; their 10-month-old baby; and Taniyah, who was in fourth grade.
The four parked outside a nearby business, and Goehring removed two handguns from the glove compartment before he and Cochran exited the car, Stanek said.
The two kicked in an outside door to the apartment building, climbed a flight of stairs and fired rounds into the door with .357- and .38-caliber handguns.
Goehring told police he fired the .357. Six bullets from that weapon were recovered from around the doorknob. Several bullets believed to have been fired through the center of the door from the .38 were recovered from inside the apartment, including Taniyah's room, Stanek said.
Goehring and Cochran ran back to the car without entering the apartment, and they all drove away with Goehring at the wheel, Stanek said. Thomas later told detectives he ditched the firearms over a hillside at the hotel, though the weapons have not been recovered.
“Whatever their intention was, it was not to kill anyone,” said Public Defender Glenn Alterio, who represents Goehring. “Mr. Goehring is not an individual I would say is heartless.”
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.