TACOMA, Wash. – Pierce County prosecutors said Friday they have decided on a charge for Terapon Adhahn in the murder of 12-year-old Zina Linnik of Tacoma: aggravated first-degree murder, the state's most serious offense.
Adhahn, 42, is expected to be arraigned on the charge Monday, after which Prosecutor Gerald Horne will have 30 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty, Horne's office said. The only other possible sentence for an aggravated first-degree murder conviction is life without release.
Zina was seized from an alley behind her family's home during a fireworks display July 4. Investigators said her father saw a gray van leaving the scene, and that his partial recollection of the license plate helped them track down Adhahn at a home south of Tacoma. Prosecutors said Adhahn directed detectives to Zina's body in rural Pierce County.
During their investigation, detectives said they uncovered two other victims of Adhahn: one who was kidnapped on her way to school in 2000 and another who lived with Adhahn as a teen. Adhahn is charged with rape and child rape in those cases, and already has been charged with failing to register as a sex offender. He pleaded not guilty to those counts on Thursday.
Adhahn is a Thai immigrant who came to the U.S. in the 1970s after his mother married a U.S. soldier. He was convicted of incest in 1990 for violently raping a 16-year-old female relative and sentenced to two months in jail, plus five years of counseling. He told his counselors that he had been raped countless times by an older brother while growing up in Thailand, according to a mental evaluation filed in Pierce County Superior Court.
Adhahn was being held in isolation at the Pierce County jail on more than $2 million bail.