Tulalip Resort Casino Washington State Murder Case Dropped, Defendant Released

Posted on: February 8, 2022, 08:48h. 

Last updated on: February 8, 2022, 10:50h.

A murder defendant is now a free man after a Washington State charge was dropped last week because of lack of evidence. Hana Letoi,35, of Tacoma, Wash., passed away after injuries at Tulalip Resort Casino on Oct. 23, 2020.

Nomeneta Tauave, 34, of Spanaway, Wash
Nomeneta Tauave, 34, of Spanaway, Wash., in a mug shot, pictured above. A second-degree murder charge against him was dropped last week. (Image: Daily Advent)

Her boyfriend, Nomeneta Tauave, now 34, of Spanaway, Wash., was arrested for second-degree murder. He was in custody on $1 million bond since his Oct. 26, 2020 apprehension.

A criminal trial was supposed to start this month. But last week it was revealed that prosecutors were throwing in the towel. Tauave was released Thursday night from the Snohomish County Jail.

“At this time, there is insufficient evidence to prove the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt,” Snohomish County Superior Court deputy prosecutor Toni Montgomery said in recent court documents quoted by The Daily Herald, a Washington State media outlet.

No Choice for Prosecutors

“We were left with no other choice,” Prosecutor Adam Cornell concurred.

I am certain that it is heartbreaking for the victim’s family to have heard of our decision, and my heart goes out to them,” Cornell continued. “But we have an ethical obligation to not proceed in the prosecution of cases that we don’t believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Based on initial evidence, Tauave allegedly grabbed Letoi’s neck while the two were in the casino. Tauave told police his girlfriend began to “fuss” while they were gambling, and her complaining continued when they went to leave. He claims she hit him first, and he retaliated.

Abuse Accusations

On the day of the incident, the two later entered a silver GMC Yukon, which was parked outside of the gaming property. Tauave again allegedly grabbed her neck. He then shook her, prosecutors claimed. The SUV began to move forward, a passenger door opened, and Letoi fell outside onto the parking lot. There were one-time allegations that she was “violently removed” from the Yukon.

Tauave then sped away. He later denied he assaulted Letoi and said she appeared okay a short time later. But soon after the incident, she was transported to a local hospital. She died two days later.

An autopsy said she died of cardiac arrest from emotional distress following a physical altercation. Later toxicology results revealed she had methamphetamine in her body. She also suffered from heart disease.

Letoi’s family filed a civil lawsuit in Snohomish County Superior Court and in Tulalip Tribal Court. The litigation is against the casino’s security officers, the Tulalip Tribes, and the Tulalip Resort Casino.