Published On: Sun, Oct 14th, 2018

Yakama Nation man Deryk Donato pleads guilty in murder case, gets 25 years in prison

Joseph H. Harrington, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Deryk Alexander Donato, age 25, of Wapato, Washington, and an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, was sentenced today after having pleaded guilty on February 21, 2018, to Voluntary Manslaughter, Assault with Intent to Commit Murder, and Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence. United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Donato to an aggregate 25-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 5-year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, in the early morning hours of July 7, 2017, a young man was shot and killed outside his residence in Wapato, Washington. According to a witness, the victim was shot after speaking with individuals who pulled up to the house in a sport utility vehicle. As the victim walked away, an occupant in the vehicle exited and began shooting at the victim. Investigators arrived on scene and interviewed a witness who heard someone yell “Bomber” or “No, Bomber.” Although unable to see the assailant’s face, the witness was able to give law enforcement officers a description of the shooter’s clothing. The victim, also an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, died on scene.

Not long after this incident, the driver of a vehicle was shot in the shoulder by an assailant during an attempted carjacking near White Swan, Washington. The assailant fled on foot. The victim of this shooting was also an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation. While being interviewed by law enforcement, witnesses identified Donato as the shooter and said he used the nickname “Bomber.” Witnesses also provided a description of the clothing Donato was wearing during the attempted carjacking. Their descriptions matched the description of the clothing worn by the Wapato shooter.

photo/ Vartza

As part of the investigation, officers interviewed one or more of Donato’s acquaintances who stated they saw Donato with a rifle near the time of the shooting incidents and asked him why he had a rifle. Donato told his acquaintances they would find out tomorrow and gave them a round of ammunition. Law enforcement obtained this round of ammunition to compare it with spent rounds of ammunition recovered from both shooting scenes. As a result of forensic examination, investigators were able to link the spent rounds of ammunition recovered at the shootings to Donato.

During sentencing proceedings, Judge Bastian commented that Donato “remained in a violent state of mind and continued to assault people with no apparent reason.” In imposing a 25-year term of imprisonment, Judge Bastian observed that Donato showed “no indication” he was “ever prepared to follow the law.”

United States Attorney Harrington said, “This case is another example of the excellent work that can be accomplished when federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers work together. The officers should be immensely proud of their investigative efforts. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Yakama Nation Tribal Police Department, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, and Wapato Police Department are committed to investigating and prosecuting violent crimes occurring in the exterior boundaries of the Yakama Nation. We will continue our efforts to hold violent offenders accountable for their crimes.”

This case was prosecuted under the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. PSN is a federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals responsible for violent crimes in our neighborhoods. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to specifically identify the criminals responsible for violent crime in the Eastern District of Washington and pursue criminal prosecution.

This case was investigated by the Yakima Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Yakama Nation Tribal Police Department, and the Wapato Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Ian L. Garriques, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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